Tokyo Dawn Records are a Frankfurt based record label that seems to have been around for a very long time. Here, for the fifth in the series, they release The Boogie Volume 5, a boogie influenced compilation that brings together a variety of singles from numerous global artists and producers, including a number of regular contributors to the label. These include Sweden’s Opolopo, LA’s Erik Rico and from Birmingham (the UK one), Colonel Red.
This series is very different to the now countless boogie compilations available, in that they do not focus on 80s boogie classics or obscure rarities, but rather, it showcases newer music that incorporates disco and boogie influences but within a contemporary context. Some original, some remixes, but the album brings together 1980s drum machines, bouncy synths, electro rhythms, funky drum programming and some very soulful vocals.
Personal highlights here include Ruth Koleva with Kaidi Tatham’s remix of ‘What am I supposed to do’, which will please fans of his 2000 Black/Dego material. This actually came out a few years ago and I’ve been sneakily playing this out for a while, so it’s nice to see it receive greater attention. But this soulful Sofia-based vocalist should definitely be investigated further, as Ruth has previously released two original albums (even singing in Bulgarian!) and a remix EP, Rhythm Slave, which is where this remix emanates and further includes reworkings by Eric Lau, Mark de Clive-Lowe and Opolopo.
And that man of the moment, Opolopo, has two placements here, his remix of Drop the Orchestra’s ‘Be free with your love’ featuring the vocals of Vinny Vero, for a prelude-heavy slab of synth bass 80s funk. Opolopo also remixes Steve Arrington’s ‘Nobody else but you’, an older unreleased song that only surfaced a few years ago on Steve’s Bandcamp page. Here, the Arrington/Slave sound is preserved – one that could have easily been released in 1983 on ‘Hall of Fame.
Other gems include Tokyo Dawn regular Reggie B and his instrumental ‘Databan’, with its pitch-bending basslines, cool chords and head nodding drum parts. And also Positive Flow, aka Jesse Reuben Wilson (great name) featuring Colonel Red’s vocals on ‘Hold on’, a more neo-soul influenced groover, which showcases the Colonel’s excellent phrasing and vocal ability.
My only criticism of the series is that Tokyo Dawn does not seem to release these albums on vinyl. This is a real shame, as many of these tracks will thus never be available on vinyl and several of these are great club-based records. Many digital releases on compilations of this nature can ‘slip through the net’, so to speak, like for example, the non-vinyl Ruth Koleva remix presented here which I’ve been playing for a few years via Serato or when I have had to use CDJs, from a burnt CD – and I’m consistently asked what it is. But with the resurgence of vinyl, this is an ideal opportunity for Tokyo Dawn to expand into this market, and they have previously released artist albums on wax.
Vinyl is now a marketing tool as much as a source of income, and I feel that the label would benefit heavily from more vinyl releases in addition to their digital and CD formats, even if they produced an EP of, for example, the more DJ friendly tracks featured on the album. And even if only 300 copies were pressed on a four track EP, this would help with their promotional activities.
But nonetheless, I’m a long-time fan of the label as their output is consistently high and never disappoints.