On the week that a man was fined thousands of pounds for playing James Blunt’s music really loudly, I go through the records your neighbours may not mind you playing at high volume. Although it’s still possible they might…
DJ Oji Presents Ed Ramsey – Smile (I Can’t Get Enough) (POJI) I like the vocals on this one. A strong performance with some good lyrics here. As for the remixes, they’re by none other than Richard Payton of 95 North fame. We don’t hear much from him these days, so when we do, cherish it. This is his best remix since, well, his last one…
Brian Power Feat. Hil St. Soul & Richard Burton – Just Us (Quantize) Is there an original mix of this? I have absolutely no idea – but this release doesn’t suffer because of a lack of one. Regular Quantize artists DJ Spen and Reelsoul rework this one in their somewhere between deep and soulful. It works well. The main mix concentrates on the vocals, the dub allows the instruments to get a little more jazzy!
Full Flava Feat. Chantay Savage – Get Down Saturday Night (Dome) Yes, this is a cover of Oliver Cheatham’s song from 1983 – I still remember listening to it whilst driving around in Vice City. Anyway, enough of that. I was dreading listening to this one precisely because it’s a cover. I need not have worried. The music here is all new and Chantay Savage sings it in a very different way to any I’ve heard it done before. Bravo to Terry Hunter on some really strong remixes.
On the week the world discovered the bloke who used to play Barney The Dinosaur now runs a business dedicated to horizontal refreshment of the tantric variety, I go through the records that’ll arouse your attention right now. Ahem.
Duwayne Motley Feat. Zandrina – Gave Up On Love (Viva) The original of this song is rather decent, and I’m ashamed to say I somehow missed the release. Now here come the Demarkus Lewis remixes. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Lewis here, and I’m pleased to say he’s delivered yet again. The vocal mix is all about making the vocal shine, whereas the dub has a sparser arrangement using more limited bits of the vocal. I’d happily play both in the same set.
Harold Matthews Jr – Peace (Good Vibrations) The Sean McCabe remixes are almost certainly what’s going to get the attention on this release – so let’s try these first. The bassline does more of the heavy lifting on the vocal mix, complimenting the words of Harold Matthews Jr nicely. The dub gets slightly more jazzy and is musically more interesting for me. The other mixes add nothing to the release.
Aline Rocha Feat. Aria Lyric – Preach (Quantize) If you want a remix these days which sounds a bit Eric Kupper, you go to Eric Kupper. And if the twice aforementioned Eric Kupper is unavailable, you go to DJ Spen and Reelsoul. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing – their remix blows the rest out of the water on this package. Nice, uplifting vocals too.
Mentalinstrum & Zero – Back Together (Grounded) There’s a couple of new remixes of this one on here. Genetic Funk, the label’s boss, provides no less than three of them. One strong in the main mix, two not so strong elsewhere. The mysterious T70 provides a garage house mix on the harder side. But it’s True2Life who provides the knockout mix on this release. You don’t honestly need anything else…
On the week that an X-ray on a broken finger was mistaken for, ahem, another part of the human anatomy, I go through the best records of the week. Hopefully, you won’t have a, ahem, bone to pick with me afterwards…
Neil Pierce Feat. Hannah Khemoh – Shackles (Rhemi Music) I couldn’t ask for much more from a record than this. A big vocal from the ever recognisable Hannah Khemoh, a punchy bassline, a lovely deep pad and nicely programmed drums. Rhemi Music continues with exceptionally strong house music.
Jimpster Feat. Rich Medina – This Thing (Foliage) The main mix of this leaves me a little indifferent, if I’m honest. As nice as the song is, the world does not need yet another track telling us about house music. Thankfully, Sean and Tommy’s dub remove most of the vocal and concentrate on those deep, late night chords. No mystery which version is my preference!
True2Life & DJ Passion – Make Me Feel (Phoenix) A collaboration between two artists who make regular appearances in this column was always going to catch my attention – and it has. This is very much a hybrid of the two styles the two men have, which is impressive in its own right. Just one thing to mention – if True2Life and DJ Passion work together again, please let the next be a full vocal production. You’ll shine even brighter.
Spiller Feat. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Defected) Yes, it’s the Defected machine. Yes, this originally came out in 2000. But this remix by Purple Disco Machine and Lorenz Rhode is really quite something. Only very tiny pieces of the original samples are used, and the production is focused almost entirely on Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s vocals. Given they were largely an after thought on the original song, they work very well here.
DJ MJ – Do They Know? (Pogo House) Miss MJ really needs to make a commitment to work with some singers during 2022 and create full-on vocal productions. Because by the sounds of this, it’s time. MJ has always had a distinctive sound and it’s now getting more refined – and I firmly think garage house needs more vocal records. Recommended.
Masters At Work – It’s What We Live, It’s What We Are (MAW) You wait years for new Masters At Work productions to come along and then you get three of them in one year. Of the three, this one is the strongest and also one of the more reminiscent of their heyday. There’s four mixes to choose from here, but the slightly rave sounding synth on the Kenlou mix swings it for me.
Ross Couch – Deep Down (Body Rhythm) Mr Couch hasn’t featured on this column for a little while now. I’m not sure exactly why. At one point, pretty much everything he put out ended up being reviewed here. But I’m ever so glad I came across this – there’s something very, very infectious in the groove on this track. Strong work.
Demarkus Lewis – Not Today (One City Music Group) Does Demarkus Lewis ever sleep? I’m beginning to think the answer is no. The normally prolific producer responded to the pandemic in the only way he could – by increasing his output even further. It also helps his tracks transcend a number of genres within house music. This is on the deeper, smoother side – and I can’t get enough of it.
Arie Mando – Get Together (Bob’s Your Uncle) This was a treat on the ears. Arie’s original mix is a weird cross of house, garage and rave with cut-up vocals that seems to work. The BLK JCK & B15 Project mix isn’t my cup of tea – but Leandro Di’s version most definitely is.
On the week that a man out for a walk found a table for two in the woods, I go through the tunes that’ll have you feeling as free as a leaf…
Next Door But One Feat. Patricia Edwards – Those Times 2021 (Chemiztri) This is a curious number, if ever there was one. I quite like the music, I like most of the vocals too. Yet there are these awfully curious bits where it sounds like the vocal has been played into the song at way too high a BPM. If that doesn’t grate on you, you should give this a go…
Got Soul Collective – Brotherly Tribute (Pasqua) This wasn’t an expected collaboration. Danny J Lewis makes his first appearance on Pasqua, a label which leans much closer towards the afro house sound. And much to my surprise, Lewis sticks quite close to his signature sound here. Yet curiously, it all works very well.
Libellula – Crazy Keys (Houseledge) Nu Ground Foundation – real name Lorenzo Rightini – has developed a real niche for himself over the past few years. If his name isn’t on the label, assume that he’s involved anyway. His sound has touches of the 90s in it whilst not being a slave to the era. And this is one of his finest productions for a while. Classic sounding indeed…
On the week that a drunk man ended up helping the police on a search for a missing person – who turned out to be himself – I go through the records so you don’t have to. And I assure you absolutely none of these will turn out to be mine…
Ralph Session – Cielo (totheRock) Cielo, for those unaware, was a nightclub based in New York. It opened in 2003 and closed back in 2019. It’s much missed by sections of the dance music community – and I’m guessing it’s missed by Ralph Session too. There’s three mixes available here, and they’re all good. No duds to be found in this pack, but the Danny J Lewis mix was interesting. Slightly different to his usual output, but still with the character his productions have.
Richard Earnshaw & Steve Taylor Feat. Sulene Fleming – Get Up (Duffnote) Mr Earnshaw does get quite a lot of stick in this column. But he does occasionally surprise – and that’s usually when his productions go in a more jazzy direction. This is on the deeper side of his output. Perhaps that’s the Taylor influence here – and it has to be said the vocals on this one are pretty captivating. Enjoyable.
The Backroom Congregation – Sunday Morning (Soul Groove) Have you ever wondered what would happen if you gave the prolific DJ Spen his next remix project, and then immediately stuck him in a time travel machine, sending him back to 1995? Something like this is the answer. The track starts in a vain like the recent Masters At Work remixes of “Love Changed Me”, and then that piano comes in, transporting you back to many a Basement Boys production from the 1990s. A slightly understated remix, but I think the vocal works better because of it. The dub is more of a reprise, which is a very nice surprise.
Sean McCabe – Wanna Be Good (Good Vibrations) This column is a big fan of Sean McCabe dubs. There’s not many people these days who do them well, but he certainly turns up with the goods. This one isn’t labelled a dub, but might as well be. It has that late night feel they all do – chances are it actually was a dub of something which never got released, and why spend all that time on something people would never hear? Either way, this is a fun one…
DJ Disciple Feat. Harmonies – Be Yourself (Catch 22) Back in the 1990s, if you wanted to see who were the best remixes at any moment in time, all you had to do was look at the latest Pet Shop Boys release. They knew exactly how to pick the right person to remix the right song. It’s a gift that DJ Disciple has developed recently too. An Italian producer called Vertigini has remixed this one – and it’s a very interesting proposition. You get the feeling it’s going to become one of those generic Korg M1 piano tunes from early on. Thankfully, it doesn’t. Lyrics like “dance with me” and “you’ve gotta be yourself” hark back to the early days of house music. All in all, very nicely done indeed!
Demarkus Lewis – House Of Luv (Craig C) Mr Demarkus Lewis has responded to the pandemic by making records at a ridiculously frenetic pace. Yet he curiously shows no sign whatsoever of getting burned out or running out of ideas. Hence this lovely smooth piece of house music which could fit in pretty much anywhere in a set. Craig C toughens things up on his remix, which works if you like that sort of thing. In this case, I question if it does…
Kevin Hedge Feat. Rick Galactik -Reach For The Stars (Quantize) The good bits about this record first. This sounds like one of those old Director’s Cut remixes that Frankie Knuckles and Eric Kupper used to do in the early 2010s. It’s got the same signature sound as those tunes, the same sort of tried and tested arrangement and is very dancefloor friendly. Also, the lyrics from Rick Galactik are insanely positive and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The bad bits? I have absolutely no idea what Spen actually contributed to it…
Well, it had to happen at some point, didn’t it? Every weekend, this blog features a reviews column – it’s called the Six On Saturday. In it, I publish what I think of some of the latest music to hit the digital stores. And I would say around 95% of all reviews are mostly or entirely positive – why would I deliberate review stuff I hate?
But it’s usually the 5% that gets noticed. If I like a record, I say so. If I don’t like a particular record or a remix, I say so. That’s how it worked in the days of reviews in music magazines decades ago, and I see absolutely no reason why I should change a successful formula.
So I was very surprised when a producer – who shall remain anonymous – emailed me to complain angrily about two reviews. The first was for a track of his I reviewed months ago. Quite why he only mentions this now is for him to know. And the second was a remix which I referenced a few weeks ago.
He told me that “you have no right to write about my music and you have no right to be so negative about it” – when my review of his remix simply said it “wasn’t my cup of tea”. He then proceeded with the inevitable attack on my own productions over the past five years – a surefire sign they’ve lost the argument.
Well, the truth is simple. If you release music publicly, the public has a right to have an opinion on that music. It’s as simple as that, and you’d better get used to it. If they like it, they’ll buy it, stream it, play it out and the rest. They’re also entitled to tell people they like it.
Consequently, they’re also welcome to say they don’t like it. Many told me as much – including some whose names have appeared in the Six On Saturday column. I haven’t held it against them. I’ve just taken it either as constructive criticism or on the chin. And that’s exactly what I suggest this terribly thin-skinned individual does.
Grow a thicker skin. Not everyone is going to like everything you make. It’s an unavoidable fact of life. Alternatively, take my criticism and turn it into something else. Say to yourself “I don’t care what this guy thinks. Who the hell is Amateur At Play anyway?” and make the best track you’ve ever made. I love being proven wrong.
What you don’t do is send off whinging emails that make you look like a petulant, self-indulgent narcissist who can’t handle criticism. You’re going to get criticised in this music world – I have my critics out there who don’t like what I write about them.
But I have no interest whatsoever in what they think. It’s the opinions of my readers that matter to me, not a bunch of wimps who can’t handle reading something that don’t like. And if you’re in my column, I’m probably already a fan. If they want to take it as a personal attack, that’s on them.
So to the producer in question – and anyone else who’s not been happy with a review of their work I’ve written – grow up. My criticism is positively mild compared to what the dance magazines wrote in the 1990s – when vinyl records cost £6 a time. Get over yourselves and get back into the studio. No one ever complains when they see a positive review…