Off-kilter dubby disco never sounded so damn good on this huge reissue from the Mixed Signals imprint.
It's always wonderful to see a label flourish through their initial releases, where you get a sense of the direction, foundations and ideals beginning to take root, forming a character that endears us to the sounds and the sights. In such a short period of time, Mixed Signals have truly knocked it out of the park, with their trio of releases taking some beating when it comes to the significance and excellence of reissued material. The label, formed by the creative minds behind Séance Centre and Smiling C, has already generated a significant amount of traction in the dance music community, with each record displaying a significant amount of musical importance and connective power, the kinds of reissues that help to bind scenes, contexts and genres together through space and time. The label was keen to showcase somewhat overlooked gems, records that displayed an eccentric flavour, music that gave over a somewhat different feel to the rest, something capable of evoking strong as hell feelings within the listener. The other reissues demonstrate all these qualities in spades, starting with the superb hybrid r'n'b, soft proto house record 'Reconnected', by Harold Lucious, that included selected highlights from his sole LP release, 1990's 'Connections'; and the equally impeccable 'Each Dawn Every Dawn', by the late 80s house outfit LITIA=LOE, a peerless representation of thought provoking and deeply moving house music. Both these records remain wholly unique when placed in any historical context, their innovation and alternative sound very much borrowing from the styles of the time, but introducing so many new elements and vibes that their power resonates so vividly to this day. As reissue labels go, their small discography has made an enormous impact thus far.
With todays review, we will be focusing on the other of their three releases so far; a reissue of a superb disco relic, 'Go For It' by Eros. A record that resides deep within the walls of the Paradise Garage sound, where dub aesthetics and expertly blended instrumentation slammed the floor, the emotional and musical tones morphing into a groove unlike no other. After initially splitting up to pursue other career avenues, the group, consisting of Assanouan G’Bado, Fletcher Gaines, Bobby Jones and Mike Freeman, regrouped to focus once more on their musical ambitions, but after a disappointing meeting with their desired label, Motown, the group would split once more. G'Bado and Freeman would continue on with developing their initial Motown demos, transforming the songs with drum machines and overdubs, resulting in a new version of 'Go For It', moving the song away from its original AOR roots and into a dazzling disco masterpiece. The song would eventually make it onto vinyl in 1989, and has since become a holy grail for disco and boogie fans, with the original selling for eye watering amounts of money. It's no surprise, as the song itself has a lasting power, the music contained within of such quality and brilliance, no wonder it was in such high demand. Now, thanks to Mixed Signals, we get to witness the original demo from 1985 plus its 1989 counterpart, side by side. So, lets take a dip.
Up first comes the disco remake of the track, and it begins with the key line moving between the drums with fury and power. Before long, we move into the groove, the soft bass line bobbing up and down, the key lines operating on both sides of the spectrum, offering up a perfect balance between the drums and bass. The vocals of Barbara Green move right through the middle, her range hitting the sweet spot, as the track moves into the chorus, with the tones and textures becoming full once more with the re-introduction of those enveloping chords. The choral vocal lines are a blend of chanting and softly spoken backing pieces, and this arrangement adds further weight to the proceedings. That guitar riff is something else too, adding further texture and depth to it all. We move back through the second verse, and back through into the chorus, the appeal of the track never losing momentum at all, if anything our infatuation with it has continued to grow. Following the second chorus, the breakdown really gets into the dub, with all chords dropping out in favour of the repeating key line, sparse stabs and intermediate bass lines, with the vocals dripping in and out of view. The sparseness becomes the heartbeat, the listener moving into the spaces and voids created by this movement from a very full and evolving melodic arrangement and into a structure where the groove becomes all encompassing. The guitar line moves into view, lightly strumming away, as the vocals do their thing in crafting further narrative and atmosphere. The flows on display here are so wonderful, the ebbs and fluidity smooth and surprising, moving with the rhythms of life and the dance. We feel like we are being conducted by the proceedings, our emotions and body moving with the sways and grooves, its quite a powerful feeling. Cosmic dub disco at its very finest.
On the flip, we have the alternative cut, in the form of the original demo that until now has remained unreleased. The tone is immediately different, the composition and structure coming across in a more rhythmically tight affair. Guitars become more of an emphasis, along with the bass line that pumps away underneath, with transitions between the chorus and verses much more of a straight up switch than a more drawn out affair. What is immediately noticeable is the pace, with the track interlaying its various elements are seemingly a much. higher tempo, the density of sound impressive and infectious. The groove is emphasised much differently in this cut, along with the vocal deliveries feeling more closer together, but the impact is no less powerful. The breakdown after the second chorus is still so beautifully pulled off, as the guitar line takes hold, and like with the sparsely populated nature of the second act on the first side, this one relies heavily on the rhythm rather than the atmospherical galaxy that emerged on the previous. Both cuts demonstrate a band who are able to craft a tune in two differing images, both of which encourage you to let your hair down, but achieve that notion in very different ways. The dub qualities of the first track are a wonderful thing to delve your mind into, whilst the demo version is a beautifully paced, high octane burner that suits the dance floor as much as its sibling does. Absolute pearls, the pair of them.
Mixed Signals might be a very fresh imprint, but their immediate impact is felt everywhere. With this record in particular, we see a record that very much deserved its time in the spotlight, a superb rendition of all the best the 80s dance floors had to offer. It has heart, it has soul, it has heaps of character, but also a hefty dosage of vision and understanding of the many facets of the groove. Eros harnessed the ever evolving nature of disco and dance music during the early 80s, and project their own vision into that morphology, and the result was quite possibly one of the finest tunes to come from that era. Methinks that this could just be one of the reissues of the year. Just maybe.
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