Ever since I first purchased Vol 5, I've endeavoured to buy every one of the Good times albums. Vols 1 - 5 are fantastic, with a great mix of music from Soul - House and Funk - Drum and Bass. The previous albums have really been well thought out and bring the carnival vibe into your living room.
However, with volume 7 I can't help but feel Norman and the team are starting to run out of tracks! They album is enjoyable and theres a couple of great tracks, but compared to previous releases, it doesn't quite match up.
Its an album you'll listen to every now and again, maybe when you're bored of hearing your favourites, but unfortunatley its not one that you'll be reaching for when you're in the mood to party!
Lets hope Vol.8 recaptures the magic of the others.
Norman Jay MBE returns again at the helm of a two cd collection of records under the 'Good Times' banner, this time accompanied with the legend 'Let the Good Times Roll'. The questions is, after six previous editions and prior to the release of a later specifically themed edition ('Good Times London'), are the 'Good Times' still as enjoyable as ever?
The collection opens with the dark tinged 'Let It Roll', which was playing constantly during 1990 as the short lived genre of Hip House began to run out of creative steam. It might once have been considered essential fare but it isn't perhaps the best opener to a collection such as this - and it isn't because the genre didn't have better records available to choose from (The Richie Rich reworking of the Jungle Brothers' 'I'll House You' immediately springs to mind) - and this idiosyncracy continues with 'Only You' by Charles Dockins (featuring Lynette Smith), which is one of those instantly forgettable house records which lacks any sense of originality or real creativity. From here we are forcibly dragged back to the much slower paced 'He's a Friend' by Eddie Kendricks - which is immediately recognisable as the type of record likely to appeal to Jay's soulful sensibilities. This is soon followed by Lupe Fiasco's 'Kick Push' - which sounds much like any other commercially produced Hip Hop in recent years, and certainly wasn't representative of a new star rising as was predicted at the time. There are further slower paced nostalgic excursions (both real and pastiche) before the launching of another cliche laden 4/4 house styling - 'Keep on Tryin' by Antoine Clamaran and Emily Chick.
Disc two opens with the mellower 'Just Right' by Bare Knuckles, and there is a welcome stylistic and qualitative shift which sees lesser known tracks by D-Train and Shalamar feature, artists with a proven and credible body of work to draw upon and which deserve greater exposure. The inclusion of MC Lyte's 'Cha Cha Cha' is similarly welcome, an underrated record by an underrated female Hip Hop artist, and Fela Ransome Kuti's 'Water No Get Enemy' is representative of another artist deserving of wider attention (and rescuing from the 'World Music' label).
But despite this notable improvement on disc two, there is still a sense that something is not quite right with this collection, it simply doesn't work as a coherent and considered musical programme. It is possible that this might stem from the eratic track sequencing, which appears ill thought out with little care or attention given to developing a sense of growing propulsion - something which a DJ of Norman Jay's stature would surely recognise as being vital to the listening experience. This is not helped by the fact that some records appear to have been chosen to appeal to an audience very much concerned with the 'now' - the Lupe Fiasco track might well have been considered likely to appeal to a younger audience but when compared against the earlier MC Lyte record the comparison is less than flattering when ajudged by any standard. And this 'instantly forgettable' quality pervades other tracks chosen too - which is frustrating given the records that have been released and which have been featured by Norman in some of his sets over the last three to four years.
I've reviewed other 'Good Times' releases, and broadly I consider them to be a welcome relief from some of the other similarly themed collections available. Norman Jay is a DJ with a proven and credible history of engagement with black music - as a promoter and tireless champion of quality music - but this collection is undeserving of being associated with his name and that of the 'Good Times' experience.
Just bought this compilation and think it contains some nice soulful sounds to play early doors in a night. Eddie Kendricks 'he's a friend ' is an awesome and there is a really good house version of Antoine Clamaran - Keep On Trying (Hot 22 Mix) on cd1. I love all the good times compilations i've bought so far and this is definately one i like as well. Very good value as well.