Jamie 3:26 presents ‘A Taste of Chicago’ 2LP/CD (BBE Music) 4/5

With not much time at all having passed since BBE Records unveiled Volume 2 of Alex Attias’s LillyGood Party compilation, ‘A Taste of Chicago’ sees Jamie 3:26 transfer those glorious good times from the Swiss dance floors of the archetypal LillyGood experience to Chicago’s underground clubs in the late-1970s.

A Chicago native himself, Jamie Watson – Jamie 3:26 – has compiled seven remixes and edits of quintessential house numbers, paying his respects to the genre’s forefathers and some landmark records while continuing the innovative traditions of Chicago house music as a prevailing force in today’s modern dance scene.

And waving that flag for Chicago house music is as much the story for Watson as anything. With the genre rooted in that post-disco era of the club scene amidst renowned stories of Frankie Knuckles gracing the hallowed floors of the revered Warehouse club – a club so central to those pioneering years that many believe the name ‘house music’ to be spawned from the name of the club itself. What makes Jamie 3:26’s take on house music so distinctive is his understanding and respect for house’s lineage and culture.

Watson’s penchant for revisiting tracks under his Jamie 3:26 guise extends far further than the release of ‘A Taste of Chicago’ – tracks by Adryiano (‘Move It Move It’), Chromatic Filters (‘Horizon Stripes’) and Prince (‘Purple’) have each received the Midas touch over the years justifying high expectations for this release. And ‘A Taste of Chicago’ really does deliver on all fronts – BSTC’s ‘Venus & Mars’ kicks things off in explosive fashion thankfully retaining the track’s infectious horn line and potentially delivering the album’s strongest highlight right off the bat.

The selections revisit tracks from different eras of house music with numbers like Jungle Wonz’s ‘The Jungle’ (originally released in 1986) and ‘Mind Games’ by Quest (1985) capturing those glorious early years as well as selections from more recent treasures like the aforementioned ‘Venus & Mars’ and ‘Stomps & Shouts’ by Braxton Holmes with Cabrini-Greens and Cornbread (2003).

The New Jersey funk band, Calender, see their four-minute number ‘Comin on Strong’ (1976) transformed into a nine-minute dance floor excursion. The Jamie 3:26 edit masterfully retains so many of the song’s original elements that really propel ‘Comin on Strong’ along from the subtle strings, arresting lead guitar and, of course, that awesome horn line.

‘Comin on Strong’ is another song on this project that serves as a great example of Jamie 3:26’s progressive vision of house music but, again, paying homage to the foundations laid over forty years ago. Just as the original versions of these songs helped cement house music as a formidable genre within club culture, Jamie 3:26 helps now to reaffirm house music’s – and Chicago’s – legacy to an entirely new generation.

Imran Mirza