V/A Sources: ‘The Easy Street Records Anthology’ Compiled by Bill Brewster (Harmless) 3/5

the-easy-street-records-anthologyFollowing on from the Sam Records compilation, Harmless Records now pay their attention towards New York’s Easy Street record label. Easy Street began during the height of NY’s boogie movement in 1983 but then later became known as an influential house label, with this collection concentrating on releases from 1983 to the mid 1990s, when New York was the centre of house music.
Another 3 CD set from Harmless and again compiled by Bill Brewster, the album showcases the New York club scene via some of the most interesting 12”s to come out of the city at the time, starting in 1983 with World Premier’s ‘Share the Night’, an infectious synth and drum machine heavy boogie cut, Shot featuring Kim Marsh and ‘Main Thing’, a 100 BPM downtempo groover and Lukk featuring Felicia Collins and ‘On the One’, all of which were commonly heard in clubs and parties during the mid 1980s in the US and UK.
Easy Street then began to move into a more proto house sound from 1985 with landmarks releases from Serious Intention’s ‘You Don’t Know’, the early afro house offerings of ‘Ma Foom Bey’ by Cultural Vibe and The Paul Simpson Connection with ‘Treat her Sweeter’, which are all now established classics of the scene and very much influential on the later house scene. The delayed organ sound is still used in club music productions today but was first famously popularised in ‘You don’t know’ 30 years ago.

The label then moved fully over into house music territory with examples here including Adeva’s ‘In and out of my life’ and Todd Terry’s Hardhouse pseudonym with ‘Check this out’ from 1988, with its insanely infectious intro. From this period onwards, the label then concentrated on mainly vocal releases, such as those by Cassio (aka Cassio Ware), De’Lacy and Alexander Hope. This section of the anthology is a little more hit and miss, but the difficulty with a compilation of this nature is not always which songs to include but also which mix better suits the compilation. Personally, I would have liked Gary L’s ‘Anything is possible’, a DJ Tony Humphries favourite to be included and the original version of Adeva’s ‘In and out of my life’ rather than the later Roger Sanchez dub mix. And also East Street’s very first release, Orlando Johnson’s ‘Turn the music on’ would have been a nice addition – but you could never please everyone with a compilation of this nature from a label that has had so many releases.

Generally the anthology provides the listener with a snapshot of the New York club scene during its most formative years and beyond, displaying the exceptional talents of the era, such as, Paul Simpson, Jellybean and Todd Terry. And with the relative low price of the Harmless Anthology series, these albums are an accessible insight into this pivotal time in New York club culture.

Damian Wilkes