The Kings of House: Compiled by Masters at Work
||"Can You Feel It (Instrumental)" / "It's
||"You Used to Hold Me" / "Promised Land"
Jam after jam, BBE's The Kings of House (selected and
mixed by Masters at Work, Kenny Dope and Louie Vega) provides
an outstanding introduction to house music. "House music?"
you ask skeptically. Yes, absolutely. Not your bullshit Euro-trance
Ibiza anthems that have lately defined what most people refer
to when saying "house," but real, honest-to-God house
music in all of its soulful, gay, black, urban glory. Unrepentant
dancefloor jams that are more than simply clubroom fodder. This
is the most essential house, the type of music that endures for
decades and still works even when taken away from the dancefloor...the
stuff that stimulates the mind, despite its facility for making
asses shake. If you have been scared of house before, get over
it, then get this CD. I promise you won't be scared any more.
Mostly focusing on the '80s and with a few jams from the early-
'90s, this mix judiciously covers all of the bases. From the deep
vocal smoothness of Sterling Void and Joe Smooth to the acid jack
of Tyree and Mr. Lee, the mix offers plenty of diversity and unexpected
turns. The heterogenity of sounds and styles is indeed a strength.
One might worry that the Masters at Work fellas would focus exclusively
only on their New York roots, but this is not at all the case.
Sure, there's a ton of classic New York faves, but also a fair
share of early seminal masterpieces from Detroit, Chicago, and
the UK. The quality of the track selection is superb, featuring
many underrated cuts that rarely appear on other house compilations.
There are too many highlights to mention, but here are just a
Master C&J (Carl Bias and Jessie Jones) have long been overdue
in getting proper recognition for their pioneering efforts in
the sensual and melancholy Chicago sound. Everyone has heard "Dub
Love" a million times, but they have done so much more that's
better. Thankfully the dark, velvety "Face it" (one
of their most poignant tunes about a relationship breakup) is
featured here. I was also delighted to see not only Derrick May's
"Strings of Life," but his much more interesting and
lesser known gem, "It Is What It Is," a sci-fi groove
with tons of Detroit-style grandiose strings and classical embellishments.
If that weren't enough, also included is the Blunted Dummies'
"House for All," a stripped-down, funky reworking of
Bobby Konders' classic, "The Poem," a track that was
a personal anthem for me during my "big pants" years
in the early-'90s. (Yes, I wore big pants.) In sum, this comp
has got it. Sure, I would have liked to have seen some early Murk,
Pal Joey, Ron Trent/Chez Damier, Timmy Regisford/Boyd Jarvis,
Jesse Saunders included as well, but there's only so much one
can fit on two discs. Personally, I think Masters at Work have
done a superior job. [EH]