An idea that seems more geared for the vinyl age has finally come to be on Compost Records' I Like It - Vol. 1. The label asked 4 people - DJ Hell (from the International Deejay Gigolos label), Peter Kruder (from Kruder & Dorfmeister and G-stone), Michael Reinboth (owner of Compost) and Theo Thönessen (Into Somethin')- to pick 4 tracks each, with no restrictions on what these 4 tracks have to do with anything, just as longs as the tracks are classic, unique or favorites. An interesting idea which works for the crate digger and DJ, as well as those curious listeners interested in the unique vision of the folks who picked the music - and those that are spotlighted on I Like It - a series which I believe will continue to grow. Compost are telling us - there's just as much great music behind us as there is happening around us.
DJ Hell starts out with Silicon Soul's Who Needs to Sleep Tonight, a classic from 1981 which hit it big in new wave clubs and gay discos. It was given the DJ Hell remix treatment in the early 90s, and was also recently covered by French house music maven Bob Sinclair (a version I'd love to hear). DJ Hell also includes classic consumerist/poseur debate tracks by Television Personalities (Part Time Punks) and The Pop Group (We Are All Prostitutes), as well as Max Berlin's Serge Gainsbourg-like Elle Et Moi which was also recently included on the More GDM compilation. I think that this is great music, but I wish DJ Hell had put a little more thought into his section - his liner notes have no comments by each song like the others do, and it would've been cool to have some more rare tracks selected by him.
Peter Kruder's picks fit the style we all know and love by Kruder & Dorfmeister. Masta Ace Incorporated's Sittin' on Chrome from 1995 is a rarity these days, and sounds fresh, though is not insanely exciting. Grauzone's Film 2 from 1982 is a little more exciting, but has also compiled on Serie Noire: Dark Pop And New Beat on Eskimo Recordings and New Deutsch on Gigolo Records - so much for this being exclusive. It's still a dubbed out 80s masterpiece worth being heard on any of these compilations. The notes to Graf Hadik's Habsburg Man by Kruder make for an interesting read - and helped me enjoy this track much more. Stephan Graf Hadik Wildner is also featured on Stephane Pompougnac's Hotel Costes, Vol. 6, as well as singing on Tosca's Rolf Royce (from Tosca's Delhi9 album a favorite of mine from 2003) - here he's heard solo, and it's definitely a unique sound. Finally Kruder includes Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois' Always Returning - a no brainer in its similarity to Kruder's work; he wishes he had done it.
My least favorite track picks were by Michael Reinboth. I've always thought Ryuichi Sakamoto sounded somewhat dated and Bamboo Music with David Sylvian sounds straight out of 1983. Sometimes you got to scratch your head about Northern Soul classics: maybe it helps to not know the lyrics, or to be swayed by the music at all hours of the night. I'm not sure - but I found Mary Love-Comer's 80s gospel Come Out of the Sandbox to be a basic 80s tune with a Jesus love Christian message - cringe-worthy. Hector Rivera's I Want a Chance for Romance is more fun: 60s New York Latin dance music - sort of a latin James Brown, cha cha soul boogaloo music. C.O.D.'s In the Bottle is an awesome 80s electro classic, but it too has been compiled recently on Freddy Fresh's Abstract Funk Theory in 2001 and on Andrea Parker's DJ Kicks back in 1998 (so if you recognize it....).
The most exciting finds on I Like It - Vol. 1 were from Theo Thönessen. Just last week I was reading about Brazilian Egberto Gismonti - and here I get to hear an incredible masterwork from his 1970 solo album which combines Italian soundtrack music with Brazilian jazz and bossa influences. This Egberto Gismonti track sounds amazingly fresh and orchestral. It's quietly evocative and beautifully written in a soaring but somber tone. In the Light of the Miracle by Arthur Russell is quite amazing as well - an extension of that disco pop sound bands like the Raincoats, Tom Tom Club and Talking Heads were up to in the 80s with percolating percussion, mysterious backing vocals, and a rhythm which doesn't stop even as it drops out of sight. Nathan Davis' Carmell's Black Forest is a great jazz waltz which reminds me of John Coltrane's melodies and can be found on Nathan's Two Originals: Happy Girl & Hip Walk. I wasn't crazy about Theo Thönessen's last pick - Alexander Hope/Blaze's Wonderland the original mix - but broken beat fans could do worse than to check it out.