on 19 January 2011
The initial 'Back Beats' series extended over ten issues, with the promise that further volumes might follow. This release is part of the promised second batch, being Volume 11 in the series "conceived and compiled with love by Ian Dewhirst". The stated aim of the collection remains the same, to "entertain and educate" whilst bringing "some of the best music in the world from some of the greatest independent labels over the past 50 years..(using)...only the full 12" or album versions". This is a sentiment previously expressed by Dewhirst in his previous role as conceiver and compiler of the 'Original Mastercuts' collection - a series that provided a musical education in quality black music. Since the demise of the 'Original Series' Dewhirst has continued his engaging in the issuing of quality driven music compilations, always displaying the light touch expertise and willingness to guide, in a manner that is never patronising.
For this volume, Dewhirst has chosen to pick eleven tracks from the late to mid 1970s Disco period, as suggested by the title 'Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah' (a refrain lifted fron Chic's 'Dance'). It opens with the Moment Of Truth's 'Helplessly' (1976), taken from New York's Salsoul label, which features a driving rhythm supported by typically opulent orchestral support, of a style so beloved by Dewhirst. First Choice will be known to many for their 'Armed And Extremely Dangerous' (featured on Volume Three in this series ' Philly Freedom'), here they supply 'The Player' (1974), another orchestrated groove (with vibes) taken from Philly Groove Records. Eddie Holman's 'This Will Be A Night To Remember' (1977) is of a faster paced commercial aesthetic, miles away from 1970's 'Hey There Lonely Girl'. Ultra High Frequency's 'We're On The Right Track' (1975) is resplendent with strings and a Philly swing, sharing musical textures found in Loleatta Holloway's slower and funkier Hit & Run' (1977). For some the Players Association will always be remembered for the melodic and evergreen 'Turn The Music Up' (1979), but 'I Like It' (1977) is equally deserving of your attention.
The Funk returns with the lightly grooving 'Gotta Get Out Of Here' (1978) by Lucy Hawkins, whilst 'The Beat Goes On' (1977) by Ripple returns to the string laden Philly influenced sound, with evidence of a formalised musical template found with a straight ahead break. 'Keep On Dancin'' (1978) by Gary's Gang is interesting primarily for the production textures, evidently developing away from the earlier Funk influenced material featured here (and note again the introduction of a formalised break structure). TJM's 'Am I Dreaming' (1979) features synth stylings coupled with orchestrated strings, providing a neat synthesis of what had been, and what was to come, courtesy of Tom Moulton. The collection concludes with Jackie Moore's 'This Time Baby' (1979), a song previously recorded by the O'Jays. This is an acknowledged Disco classic, ending this particular cd on an undeniable high.
So. Do you buy?
Recent years have seen an abundance of 'Discocentric' collections, of varying quality and musical legitimacy. Drawing predominantly from the SAM Records and Salsoul back catalogue Dewhirst has managed to compile a collection that manages to eschew the obvious, instead featuring a number of tracks that are not likely to feature on collections with a highly commercial bent. Dewhirst acknowledges in the liner notes that, in order to control costs, this series does not feature a copiously written supporting booklet but this means that money has been spent on where it matters most - securing good quality music. Furthermore, and more interestingly, particular tracks included here are also featured (in remixed form) or relate to similarly helmed Dewhirst compilations (such as 'Philly Re-Grooved: The Tom Moulton Remixes' Harmless Records), thereby allowing the listener to explore the artists featured here more widely, and that can only be welcomed and applauded.
In an age of digital downloading, Dewhirst continues to issue quality tangible product at an exceptional price. Undoubtedly this release fits nicely with the first twenty 'Back Beats' releases, and you would be wise to buy before deletion!