Monday, October 13, 2003

What we gonna do right here is go back - way back. Back in time...

So, since Friday I was spinning Masters at Work's Tenth Anniversary Collection Part Two, it only makes sense that today should feature Part One, which collects much of their best work from 1990-95. It's broken down by disc:
01: Vocals
02: Dubs and maw vocals
03: Beats and grooves
04: Tools and loops
Disc 01 is absolute house perfection, vocal house like you wish it always was (or at least always was during those years; some of the work does sound a little dated, circa 10 years on).

Amongst its highlights is Marc Anthony's "Ride On The Rhythm" - yes, that Marc Anthony. Back before he became the slightly boring if golden-voiced Spanglish crooner we know him as today, he was primarily a salsa artist, making occasional forays into the NYC dance scene, especially for his pals Kenny and Louie. Marc's voice sounds a little thinner back in the day, but no less powerful. And it's set like a diamond in a gold band against the house production of MAW.

"Love & Happiness (Yemaya Y Ochun)" by River Ocean featuring India is utterly timeless, with India singing mostly in Spanish (she's the heir to the legacy of Celia Cruz) and Kenny and Louie (her now-ex-husband) ramping up the drama as the track goes on, until it all culminates in a refrain of "love and happiness" and a simple, beautiful piano figure. She's not only the MAW muse because of her involvement with Louie Vega, but also because no one sings their songs better.

Then there's "Helpless (I Don't Know What To Do Without You)," from the film Jeffrey. The Masters took this track by Urbanized featuring Silvio - which, in all fairness, I likely wouldn't love as much as I do were it not featured in said film, which gets me every damn time - and mostly just extended and ever-so-slightly augmented it for their Kenlou Remix. They knew there wasn't much that needed to be done to this clean house track, so they didn't. The sentiment expressed here is classically MAW, all about unrequited love; I'd love to hear India cover it, even though her forté is often songs with a bit more ferocity (cf. "Backfired").

No one - I repeat, nobody - makes classic, classy vocal house like Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez and Little Louie Vega. No one.

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