Friday, 5 October 2012

CJ Bolland - Sugar Is Sweeter (Armands Drum & Bass Mix) (1996)

C. J. Bolland is a British born, Belgian-settled electronic music producer and remixer. As a teenager he was strongly influenced by the Belgian underground scene of new wave, electro and EBM embodied by artists such as Front 242, Neon Judgement and The Klinik. His first productions were aired in the early 1980s on Belgium's Liaisons Dangereuses radio show, and Bolland was one of the first record producers to be signed to the fledgling Belgian techno record label R&S. His first release, Do That Dance in 1989, was followed by several more under different aliases such as Space Opera, The Project, Cee-Jay and Pulse. Bolland's first major success with the track Horsepower on 1991's Ravesignal III EP earned him industry attention and respect with wide airplay amongst European techno DJs, and 1993's 4th Sign album, including the singles Camargue and Nightbreed saw him garner further acclaim and commercial success. Bolland's second album for R&S, Electronic Highway, was released in 1995.

By this point however,  Bolland left R&S (in late 1994) to sign a five album contract with Internal/Polygram Records. During this time he also became notable as the first artist to release an album in the DJ-KiCKS series for German-based independent label Studio !K7. His first studio album for Polygram though was 1996's The Analogue Theatre from which his greatest commercial success came with the single Sugar Is Sweeter hitting no.1 in the US Hot Dance Club Play chart, and reaching no.11 on the UK Singles Chart. Further UK hits followed with The Prophet (no.19) and It Ain't Gonna Be Me (no.35). Bolland is also a prolific remixer with a long list of credits to his name, including Orbital, Depeche Mode, Moby, The Prodigy and Tori Amos. His song The Prophet, sampling Willem Dafoe in Martin Scorsese's 1990 film The Last Temptation of Christ was an underground club hit. In 2000 Bolland released the song Enter The Robot, a collaboration with the Australian producer, Honeysmack, and in 2002 started his own record label, Mole Records.
February 2004 saw the release of The Body Gave You Everything, the début album by Magnus, a dance music/pop collaborative project with Tom Barman, founder and singer for the Belgian rock band, dEUS. In December 2006 Bolland released a solo album called The 5th Sign with the Belgian online record label The Wack Attack Barrack, followed in October 2009 by 500 Euro Cocktail.

Another anthemic remix by Armand Van Helden that only resembles the original by way of the title and the intro vocals; no great loss to these ears as the original is not to my taste at all. But in giving Van Helden an almost free rein in remixing, he helped showcase his own talents and helped his own cause (along with his mix of Sneaker Pimp's Spin Spin Sugar) in becoming a top-flight House music producer.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Sneaker Pimps - Spin Spin Sugar (Armand's Dark Garage Mix) (1996)

Sneaker Pimps were a British trip-hop band formed in Hartlepool in 1994, best known for their début 1996 album Becoming X and particularly the singles 6 Underground, Spin Spin Sugar, and Tesko Suicide, all from that same album. Their novel name originates from an article the Beastie Boys published in their Grand Royal magazine about a man they hired to track down classic sneakers. The band's founding members were Liam Howe and Chris Corner, who then recruited the fantastic Kelli Dayton (formerly of Lumieres, now recording under the name Kelli Ali) for vocal duties and long-time friend Ian Pickering to provide lyrics.
After that first album, the band felt that the Corner-voiced demos for the second album better suited his voice, especially in regard to the more raw, personal quality of the lyrics. Following the promotional tour for Becoming X, Kelli was dismissed from the group, and Corner became the lead singer. Incidentally, Corner began working on a side project in 2003 and released three solo albums in 2004, 2006, and 2009 under the moniker IAMX titled Kiss + Swallow, The Alternative, and Kingdom of Welcome Addiction. His latest album was released in March 2011 titled, Volatile Times. He has also sung guest vocals for TNT Jackson, Moonbootica and The Strike Boys, as well as produced material for Robots in Disguise.

Liam Howe has become a successful writer/producer and has written and produced for the likes of Marina and the Diamonds, and Ellie Goulding, he is signed to Columbia records for his solo project which includes collaborations from Alan Vega, Neneh Cherry and Princess Superstar.
Kelli Ali recorded her third solo album, the Max Richter-produced Rocking Horse at the beginning of 2008 and released it through One Little Indian records in late Autumn 2008. She is quoted as saying this is a very different affair from her two previous solo albums, Tigermouth and Psychic Cat. Ian Pickering is a lyricist/songwriter currently writing and recording with the band Polaroid Kiss with Brandun Reed whose debut album 'Weakness of the Beautiful Souls' was released in 2011. He wrote lyrics for a number of tracks on the IAMX albums Kiss + Swallow and The Alternative and released the album All These Lines Make Noises in 2005 as a singer/songwriter/lyricist with the band Transporter.

The version of Spin Spin Sugar here isn't the original one from the album; its a remix by Armand Van Helden, probably best known for his re-workings of Tori Amos's Professional Widow and CJ Bolland's Sugar Is Sweeter. Another track that was a huge club anthem on it's release and still requested by people to this day. That said, the original version still holds it's own, and is a perfect fit for the video that was created for it; The sight of Kelli cavorting in a skin-tight dress in a seedy-looking hotel room paints a picture in my head not easily (or willingly) removed.
I will personally never fathom why she isn't singing with them now; her vocal style was a perfect fit for them, despite their reasoning for their later work.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Masters At Work Present Nu Yorican Soul - The Nervous Track (1993)

Masters at Work are the house/garage production and remix team of "Little" Louie Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez. They first worked together using the name, which had been given to them by mutual friend Todd Terry. In 1987, Gonzalez loaned out the Masters At Work name (a street party alias he was using with Mike Delgado) to Todd Terry for the 1987 singles Alright Alright and Dum Dum Cry. Terry returned the favour one year later by introducing Gonzalez to Little Louie Vega. In 1990, they then took up the Masters At Work moniker to record their own work under.
Vega is also the cousin of Eric Vega, a popular event creator and promoter in New York City. The duo has also produced music together under the names MAW, KenLou, Sole Fusion, and Nuyorican Soul. Their Nuyorican Soul project had the duo working extensively with real (as opposed to sampled or synthesized) musicians, in a variety of styles including Latin, Disco, Jazz, amongst others.

Musicians who took part in this project include Vincent Montana Jr., Roy Ayers, George Benson, Jocelyn Brown, Tito Puente, and members of the Salsoul Orchestra. The self-titled album released under the name Nuyorican Soul in 1996 included original tracks as well as cover versions of songs by the performers with which the duo was working, such as Sweet Tears with Roy Ayers (reworking a track of his from 1971), and Runaway, originally sung by Loleatta Holloway with the Salsoul Orchestra, here sung by India and featuring musicians from the original 1977 recording.
MAW has an extensive history as remixers, having mixed tracks for dance acts as well as more mainstream artists, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Donna Summer, Jody Watley, Janet Jackson, Jamiroquai, Earth Wind & Fire, and Stephanie Mills.
Many a time in a club you'd hear a quick shove or drag as a DJ corrected the mix when bringing this tune in; those soft edged chords on the intro weren't the most DJ friendly. I say this from experience; it was even more difficult when using sub-standard headphones in a club with a booming sound system. So a lot of times people (myself included) would just drop it clean from the beginning, which only added to the sense of occasion when the crowd realised what track it was a few chords in; whoops and cheers always followed realisation.
A great track that crossed dancefloors and genres.