Various ‘John Morales: Presents the M & M Mixes vol. 3. New York underground anthems and previously unreleased exclusive disco mixes’ 3CD 4/5

The roots of dance music have been dissected and re-analysed in the last fifteen years and disco has rightly been cited as playing a pivotal founding role. One of the welcome by-products of this renaissance of interest has been a series of classic re-issues and this latest offering from John Morales of newly created remixes very much fits into the classic category. For those were simply not around to appreciate the music first time round, John Morales, along with musical partner Sergio Munzibai, was one of the early 1980s pioneers of the remix (founding fathers from the mid-1970s being DJs such as Tom Moulton and Walter Gibbons among others) and between 1982 and 1990 the partnership created an impressive six hundred and fifty plus mixes before Munzibai sadly passed away in 1991. In recent years John Morales has been persuaded to re-investigate and eventually re-create some of the lesser known (to a wider public at least), yet richly appreciated at the time undergound dance sounds of the classic disco era and beyond into what became known as boogie and then morphed into garage and at a later stage transmogrified into house music. With a plethora of music to choose from, Morales has wisely cut across labels and eras with the earliest re-mixes here pre-dating the beginnings of disco (a disputed time frame at the best of times since dance-inflected soul music existed in the 1950s and 1960s and arguably before in the form of blues, but from a strictly stylstic viewpoint disco commences roughly around 1973/4, though exceptions to the general rule of thumb can always be found) until the mid-1990s when drum machines and synthesizers were the order of the day.

A few surprise inclusions emerge and testify to John Morales open-minded approach to the art of mixing. Marvin Gaye’s ‘I want you’ has been given a major makeover with a far more percussive underpinning and some skillful re-editing. Likewise who would have expected the Stax classic from the Dramatics ‘Whatcha see is whatcha get’ being elongated. It certainly works and that ever so evocative and dare one say dramatic intro receives an extra few minutes which only adds to the dancer’s and listener’s pleasure. What has become something of a rare groove classic has been lovingly re-mixed in Loose Joints’ ‘Is it all over your face?’ which sounds as fresh now as when it first arrived as a prized West End 12″ back in 1980. Naturally some better known grooves are given a new coat of paint and these include the jazz-funk anthem by Donald Byrd and the Blackbirds ‘Rock Creek Park’ and Barry White’s ‘Never, Never gonna give you up’ which can now both similarly be viewed in a new light. Some songs only require minimal surface changes since they were so good the first time around and this is certainly the case of Jean Carn’s irresistably soulful ‘Was that all it was’ and equally Third World’s ‘Now that we’ve found love’, both big dancefloor hits at the time. Salsoul was a seminal disco label and it is fitting therefore that Loleatta Holloway is represented with her essential ‘Hit and run’ song and the backing band of the Philly sound MFSB re-emerge simply under a different name as the Salsoul Orchestra with the suggestive ‘You’re just the right size’. Not everything has worn as well. Curtis Hairston does sound a little dated, but in general this is a generous and carefully selected selection that will merit repeated listens.

Tim Stenhouse