Few people know their house music eggs like these two, basically – and as their famously scabrous record reviews on the Dope Jams site demonstrate, they’re not afraid to call a spade a spade (and an overrated, talentless spade at that).
The pair have just released Edits 1999-2014, which compiles 15 years’ worth of Slow To Speak edits; Bjork, David Byrne and Joey Negro are among their many targets. To toast that release, the duo have pulled together a selection of 12 of the greatest edits from the musty archives of Stateside house history.
Head to the next page for classic cuts (with some typically entertaining Dope Jams glosses, of course) from Francois K, Theo Parrish, DJ Harvey and plenty more.
Head here to stream Edits 1999-2014 in its entirety as a YouTube playlist.
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‘What Can I Do For You’ (Unknown Edit)
What can you say except… the best edit ever! Apparently pieced together from two different versions of the original, this edit takes a great song, transforms it into a bonafide classic, and blows the original out of the water. The killer vocals from Patti Labelle at her peak combined with the terrible pressing make this record undeniable.
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02. LENNY WILLIAMS
‘You Got Me Running’ (Danny Krivit Edit)
How do you make a list of the best edits and not include one by the king of edits, Danny “Mr. K” Krivit? It’d be like Joe Claussell without his bongos or Moodymann without the “D.” It’s too bad Danny wasn’t in the studio when this song was recorded, because his version definitely outshines the original. He manages to cut the fat just right on a song that has very little to begin with. A perfect example of a true professional at his peak.
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03. EDDIE RUSS
‘See The Light’ (Gilles Peterson Edit)
I’m not sure if Gilles Peterson even did this edit, but for the purpose of this paragraph, we will assume he did. This assumption is based on its inclusion on his INCredible Sound Of Gilles Peterson compilation; however, you need to find either the double or triple-LP, which are the only editions of the comp that contain the complete version of the edit. This one is great because it had to be done live. Peterson takes the haunting, funky-as-hell intro that eventually resolves itself in horrible jazz fusion, and loops it and loops it and loops it, along the way adding delay and strange pauses. In my head, he was doing it live on the radio and everyone in the studio was going bananas as they watched him completely in the zone losing his shit. In reality, I am sure it didn’t happen that way.
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04. RODENA PRESTON & THE VOICES OF DELIVERANCE
‘Must Jesus Bear The Cross’ (Joaquin Joe Claussell Edit)
(Circuit T Promo)
This is a fairly simple edit – the original is doubled up and drawn out – but that is not why it’s included here. I chose it because it shows the importance of the dig: the ability to recognise a dope jam when its buried on an unsuspecting album. Joe is one of the best in the world at that. This rearrangement of an obscure cut on a Birthright gospel LP from ’76 reminds me of what it felt like to be at Body & SOUL during its first couple of years. You can hear this being played after the highest peak of something like ‘Knights Of The Jaguar,’ a point that you felt couldn’t be eclipsed, and then all of a sudden this would slowly fade in and your mind would be blown into ten million bits, shivers would run down your spine and this enveloping feeling of unity you had previously written off as hippie bullshit would flood you with warmth. Ahhh, the good ol’ days…
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05. DIRE STRAITS
‘Private Investigations’ (Thomas Bullock Edit)
(Whatever We Want)
If you know Thomas Bullock, you will immediately realise that this edit is the sonic embodiment of his existence – I think he might in fact be a secret member of Dire Straits (he never seemed to be hanging around in NY when they were on tour). Issued as the first release on Carlos Arias’ Whatever We Want Records in 2005, it was the declaration of what the label would go on to become – an outlet for Thomas and friends to release bugged-out edits, drunken Eddy Grant covers and ultimately the Laughing Light Of Plenty LP. The label came and went in the same fashion – no grand entrance, no great exit. They released music with no regularity and there was no cohesive artwork or single sound that tied it all together. The unifying force of the label is the fact that their time and money were spent on doing the project the right way, and as a result a timeless canon of releases was left behind. Thank you Carlos, Thomas and whoever else was involved; this shit is a lost art these days!
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06. DOUBLE EXPOSURE
‘My Love Is Free’ (Daniel Wang Edit)
I always liked Daniel Wang, not so much musically but philosophically. When I was working at Spiritual Life Music for Joe Claussell back in 2001, we would send out promo 12”s of forthcoming releases to a small DJ list, and included with each promo was a one-sheet that jocks had to fax back with their feedback. Since this was when Spiritual Life and its sound were at its peak, the faxes came flying back in! They were always full of ball-washing, happy-go-lucky bullshit by people who wanted to ensure that they would continue to receive free records.
However, one day, about a week after we sent out our last batch of promos, we received a two-page letter in the mail. It was from good ol’ Danny Wang. He was fed up, wanted off the list and had composed a lengthy, Terre Thaemlitz-style dissertation on how live instrumentation was destroying house music and the NYC scene. I found this admirable for a few reasons: first, because he took the time to write and send the letter, as opposed to just selling the highly sought-after promos on eBay for hundreds of dollars; and second, because the purist stance he took (hypocritically?) stood in opposition to the music he was releasing on his own label Balihu, which tried to mimic disco records that were full of live instrumentation! Looking back, it makes me smile, not because of the actual incident but because people still had passion. They gave a shit!
Anyways, five years prior to this incident, after Wang released the smokin’ Aphroasiatechnubian EP, he put out Balihu-004, The Morning Kids EP, which contains ‘Free Lovin’ (Housedream),’ an edit of ‘My Love Is Free’ by Double Exposure. Superseding the DJ Harvey method of chopping up the master recording and rearranging it, here Wang adds additional production and creates a house jam that maintains the loose, sleazy disco spirit of the original; the love-drenched sway is held dear and expanded throughout Wang’s groove. (We’re worlds away from Timmy Regisford giving Eddy Grant’s ‘Time Warp’ a 4/4 kick.) Something for the morning kids indeed.
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‘Gotta Keep On Trying’ (DJ Harvey Edit)
Should be the benchmark for all edits. Expertly done by a guy who at the time was profoundly immersed in the scene and the music, not in taking pictures of himself on choppers in Venice Beach. The groove is so duly hypnotic and in the pocket that if you muted the keyboard solo it would still have the same impact; but that’s sure as hell a solo you would never want to lose! It’s the soundtrack for that dance floor you can’t find anywhere these days — a pitch black room where everyone twists and twirls with their eyes closed, no one looking at each other or the DJ, everyone lost in their own unreality…. until the vocal SCREAMS, all eyes burst open and the darkness of the room is transformed with strobes blaring, par cans flashing full blast and house lights slammed on! “And you got to keep on tryinnnnnnnnn!”
The original is a terrible throwaway disco track, something that Jeremy from My Love is Underground would put on a compilation if he made one of disco records.
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08. THE WHO
‘Eminence Front’ (2 Bit Badboy Edit)
The Who are the real bad asses of rock ‘n’ roll, everything Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones wish they could be. On his best day, Keith Richards couldn’t touch Keith Moon’s debauchery with a ten foot dildo, nor could Pete Townshend’s ‘I could give a fuck’ attitude be rivalled! ‘Eminence Front’ came after their golden years, a funky radio record from the early ’80s that succeeded Keith Moon’s death and features replacement Kenny Jones on drums. This edit by 2 Bit Badboy does something very important that most others don’t do: it doesn’t fuck up the original. I’m pretty sure that if you hear this version and don’t know the original, you won’t even recognise it as an edit. Badboy extends the song a bit throughout and adds a beat to the intro to make it easier to mix, but aside from these minor revisions The Who are kept well intact. The man knew not to fix something that wasn’t broken!
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09. PHIL COLLINS
‘I’m Not Moving’ (Idjut Boys Edit)
No matter how man Disney soundtracks Phil Collins does or smooth jazz albums he makes, the prog rock hero of the ’70s and pop icon of the ’80s will forever be dope! What Vitesse Nayway (a thrice-used alias of Dan Tyler from the Idjut Boys) did with this Face Value LP cut is by no means groundbreaking. But it is great, in that it accomplishes two very simple goals. One, it allows me to hear ‘I’m Not Moving’ for two minutes longer without having to listen to the album version and pick up the needle and start it over. Two, it gets disco dweebs who spend their entire existence talking about and seeking out shitty rare b-side cuts on private press labels to play Phil Collins because of their obsession with the Idjut Boys. Well done sir!
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10. SOUTH SHORE COMMISSION
‘Free Man’ (François K. Edit)
When this edit came out, I was a naive little boy playing records in a gay club on Sunday nights. I believed that the producers behind these records had some sort of magical ability. I had high hopes of meeting these geniuses and worshipping them as if they were gods. Between the FK-EP and this release, I thought François K. could do no wrong. Unfortunately for me, I had yet to realise that, like all people, François and the rest of my idols were human: they eat, shit and fuck just like anyone else. If you had told me that in ten years François would be doing an “underground night” at one of the most commercial clubs in NYC and playing loads of shitty dubstep off a computer, I would have told you that you were crazy. Guess I was the crazy one.
As far as edits go, François’ treatment of South Shore Commission’s ‘Free Man’ is one of the best ever, hands down. He conjures all the excitement of the disco era and uses it to turn the original inside out. It’s like when you hear a dope song that fades out right when the solo kicks in; you know that somewhere on tape there are three more minutes of that song, and you’re dying to hear a version with those unfairly slashed minutes left in! Well, here you have it.
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11. PETE ROCK & C.L. SMOOTH
‘They Reminisce Over You’ (Armand Van Helden Edit)
If you don’t know the X-Mix series, it was a remix/edit service exclusively for DJs that was popular in the ’90s. You had to be a working DJ or part of the Masspool record pool to obtain them. At the time, I was just a teenager begging my parents for rides to under-21 clubs, where I used to sit next to the booth and watch DJ Bruno and Danny Doughboy play these records week after week. After figuring out how to get my hands on these things – thank you Boston Beat! – I realised that the guy behind the best edits/remixes on this label was also one of the DJs at my favourite club, The Loft – not the legendary Loft run by David Mancuso in NYC, but the vibrant and fondly remembered after-hours dance club in Boston. And that guy was Armand Van Helden. To get into The Loft, you had to have a membership, and to get a membership, you had to talk to Armand. He was the world’s biggest asshole, and I can remember being so nervous when I asked him for a membership.
To produce an edit of arguably one of the best hip hop records ever made, you’d have to be pretty fucking arrogant. Well, Armand was and Armand did. This remix will forever sit alongside my favourite edits of all time. Its modifications are few, but they’re just enough to make the track rock a little harder in the club.
I eventually did get a membership to The Loft and went faithfully week after week ’til they closed their doors.
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12. ANTHONY HAMILTON
‘Lucille’ (Theo Parrish Edit)
Hearing this record for the first time is like the feeling you get when you first fall in love and the person you fall in love with doesn’t hate you. I still remember the place, the time and the feeling. It was a perfect example of hearing a great DJ in the wrong setting. It was in this awful club –more like a lounge – called APT, and arriving there was like walking into a house you didn’t want to be in. The lights were on like it was a high school classroom, the walls were covered with the same wallpaper my grandmother had in her living room, and the sound system was equivalent to a couple of JBL Eons. But, despite all of that, somehow Theo made the place feel like it was a different world. And when he finally made it to this record, we were floating in a cloud. I can still see the people dancing. A night and a record I will never forget.
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