FMT: James Murphy Is Playing At My House

Our pal Wade “Wyllys” Wilby is still without power at his New England home thanks to a brutal Nor’easter that tore through the area last weekend. It was his turn to provide a Friday Mix Tape, but as you can imagine that’s pretty tough without electricity. So we’re re-running a mix he made from April 8 in which he highlighted some of the acts who influenced LCD Soundsystem. Here’s hoping Wade gets power back soon!

Walking out into the New York streets after LCD Soundsystem destroyed their home turf for one last time, I couldn’t help but think about James Murphy’s next bold move. It’s not like I had the desire for it to happen anytime soon. The man deserves some time off from the band and brand he built so effortlessly over the past six years.

One could even argue that DFA, even dance music as a whole would be nothing without the aging anti-hero. He has left an undeniable mark on civilization’s final generation. So how does one man acquire the style, chops, and perserverance to conquer the hippies and the hipsters? How do you get the popular vote while simultaneously making the counter culture swoon?

The answer lies in the influences. One glance at James Murphy and Pat Mahoney’s FabricLive mix and you can see the skeleton for LCD Soundsystem, and perhaps, the future of dance music. Other producers and DJs have done the slower, groovier compilations before (Another Late Night and Back To Mine) but they had never been so contemporarily poignant.

Most of these compilations contained elements of old disco, post-disco, funk, soul, jazz, early house and hip-hop. For the most part FabricLive follows the same blueprint. However, the mix James and Pat put together is a non stop groove from start to finish in the 90-110 BPM range that is the double helix of nu-disco and re-edit. Long after bass music is being pushed from the Main Room to Utility Closet B at your local night club, these time tested and chart approved elements of funk and soul will be guiding electronic music onward and upward with positive force. LCD is the ambassador of that message, and this compilation is a look into how they built that sound.

James Murphy Is Playing At My House is a tribute to the man that has given more than enough inspiration to the electronic music community, and a deeper look into the bands and producers that sculpted the sound of LCD and the new wave of re-edit and nu-disco producers. I’m going to give a track by track history of each song to give more insight and education on how LCD came to be, and where nu-disco is heading.

10cc – I’m Not In Love:  I had to lead with this one, as LCD was starting every show of this last tour with this as walk out music. It is obviously not a disco tune, but rather a ballad from an art rock band that had a similar fate to LCD Soundsystem and maybe that’s why James chose this to be the subliminal theme of the tour. 10cc was a clique of multi-instrumentalists and producers with a taste for the ironic and satirical. I’m Not In Love scored them a million dollar contract with Mercury Records and the band went on to do five albums before Godley and Creme split from the band due to the strain of being the sole creative forces in the band. Could James have called it quits for similar reasons?

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly – Twilight: Maze was an esoteric funk and soul band originally titled Raw Soul that got their start opening for Marvin Gaye. I first heard this song on Howie B’s Another Late Night compilation and fell in love with the groove. Bare bones and sleek, this song embodies a late night out in NYC. It was featured in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and makes its way into my Nu Disco sets from time to time. This chugging bass line is one of the key elements in the re-edit formula.

Donald Byrd and 125th St, NYC – Love Has Come Around: Donald Byrd is the godfather of Rare Groove. Besides being a world-renown trumpet player who studied with Jazz icons such as Jackie Maclean and Art Blakey, in the early ’70s he tapped into the bloodstream of urban New York by forming The Blackbyrds; a fusion group consisting of his greatest students. This group ended up being heralded by not only the hip-hop community by being sampled over and over by artists like Guru and Gang Starr, but the disco and house community as well. After The Blackbyrds, Donald formed 125st, NYC and gave post-disco its voice. The beat on this track is what carried the disco groove into house as we know it, and gave the kids in the Midwest who were starting to produce their own tracks on crude drum machines a blueprint to do so. This track appears third on Murphy’s FabricLive mix.

Chris Rea – Josephine (le version francaise): This is a rare disco remix of blues singer Chris Rea’s ode to his daughter Josephine. The song has been remixed time and time again in both house and disco form. This version, culled from Groove Armada’s Late Night Tales mix, is by far the most rare and in my opinion the most beautiful.

Instant Funk – No Stoppin That Rockin: Instant Funk is a band you need to know if you like ANY music that’s four-on-the-floor. Philadelphia’s finest Disco outfit created the often remixed I Got My Mind Made Up that rocked the Paradise Garage night in and night out and gave these kids instant credibility charting at #1 on both the R+B and Disco lists. No other tune of theirs had quite as much commercial appeal, but all of their tunes have that signature Philly roots house sound. Speaking of the Paradise Garage…..

NYC Peech Boys – On A Journey: Please read up on the history of the Paradise Garage. It is a pivotal time in electronic music’s history that must be understood to fully grasp the embryo stages of house music. Larry Levan was the most famous DJ to ever grace the Paradise Garage in New York City. It wasn’t because he was the best mixer. He was actually far from it. He just knew how to emotionally charge the crowd up.

Even when he was wasted, the crowd was hanging on his every move because he commanded that kind of energy. If he was sad, you knew it. If he was doing coke, YOU REALLY KNEW IT. His emotions were the crowd’s emotions, and that’s what made going to the Paradise Garage a religious experience. Longtime patrons of the club formed a group with Levan in 1981 called Peech Boys. They created a track that Levan made famous by playing it constantly at the right time of the night called Don’t Make Me Wait. This track was their second biggest “hit” but the group never produced that much music likely due to Levan’s erratic behavior and rampant drug use.

Don Ray – Standing In The Rain>Peter Hebert LSB Edit: Some grooves don’t have all that much back story…just back beat. I took the liberty of extending this disco rarity I originally found on Groove Armada’s Another Late Night mix with a re-edit of the instrumental track. This shows how original disco songs become re-edit tracks. Sometimes they include the lyrics. Other times they take the instrumental sections and re-loop them into an extended jam, like this particular example. Plus this mix needed a jam section. Enjoy.

Ktty Grant – Glad To Know You: A one-hit wonder from 1983 that is one of the hardest pieces of vinyl to get your hands on. Very simple with a great melody, this is what made pop dance music accessible.

Steve Winwood – Night Train: Sometimes the underground produces such good music that it leaks into pop culture. In 1980 Winwood holed up at Netherturkdonic Studios in England with Will Jennings and wrote this driving disco tune about pushing through the night. The result is an eight-minute groove worthy of play at any club in America or Europe. This is an abridged version, begging you to seek out the extended mix from the vinyl.

Kool and the Gang – Fresh: While we’re on the subject of pop culture, lets examine the funk phenomenon of the early to mid ’80s, which had major roots in disco and house. Lots of this stuff was mass produced and therefore shit. Sure they were all tracks recorded by the best session musicians, but everything was so polished and over produced it squeezed any amount of soul at all right out of it.  (Cameo, Klymaxx) This is what happened to house in the ’90s (Oakenfold, Moby) This track is a breath of fresh air in that over-polluted world. A great groove gives way to an addicting hook that rides throughout the track.Fresh indeed.

Tiger and Woods – Love In Cambodgia: If the rest of the mix was a look at where house came from, Tiger and Woods is a look at where it’s headed. This new production and DJ duo has taken the scene by storm with its simple layered grooves and disco roots. Touring internationally with many releases slated for 2011, Tiger and Woods have taken these disco lessons very seriously and are the next wave of house kids poised to make a difference in the scene.

Barry White and The Love Unlimited Orchestra – Love’s Theme: I chose this track because I love putting it on at sunrise after a long night at the club, and sunrise is a part of this culture. Barry White put this 40-piece orchestra together to back Love Unlimited. This was their big hit, though it doesn’t sound like one. It’s a cross between the theme to Love Boat and a ’70s game show, but god damn it’s got a great groove and it’s beautiful.

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