Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, Grand 12-Inches, Vol. 1

“Grand 12-Inches” Vol. 1 is a four-disc collection of 12″ singles.  The Grand 12-Inches series is currently at four volumes.  After the US music industry oversaturated the market grand 12 vol 1with garbage pop-disco provoking a massive negative reaction in the late 1970s, dance music, especially the dance music of the period, has received much less attention in the US than in Europe.  As a result, many of the 12″ singles which were produced for club play in the 1970s and 1980s, and which were in short supply when they were made, are very diffcult to find in the US now.  Disco and dance collections made for the American market (e.g., Rhino’s Disco box) usually include edited radio or album versions which almost invariably remove the extended breaks and intros that made the music so compelling in the first place. 

Europe wasn’t subjected to the US music industry’s bastardization of disco to the same extent the US was, the anti-disco movement didn’t happen there, and dance music has been more advanced in Europe ever since.  One result is that most of the quality retrospective collections covering the dance music of the ’70s and ’80s are only available in the US as imports.  The Grand 12-Inches series is an example.  Volume 1 of the series was produced in the Netherlands and compiled by Ben Liebrand, a respected remixer and dance music producer in Europe. 

The collection contains 40 tracks spread over its four discs.  I doubt anyone will like everything here but there are some very good, and some very hard to find, tracks in the set.  Some of the more notable selections include Patrick Cowley’s almost 17 minute remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” (the original 12″ version of Summer’s tune is also included), the complete version of Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” (the first hip-hop single to go gold and the first Top 40 song to only be available as a 12″ single), the complete original 12″ mix of New Order’s “Blue Monday”, the original 12″ New York mix of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s controversial “Relax” (the radio edit was banned on the BBC and the New York version is a revelation when played at insane volume levels on a system that will handle it – ascertaining that this is the case was a dirty job but somebody had to do it, lol).  Other artists who are all represented with extended or 12″ versions of their songs include Giorgio Moroder (“Chase”), Lipps Inc (“Funky Town”), Chic (“Good Times”), Michael Zanger Band (“Let’s All Chant”), Freeze (“I.O.U.”), Indeep (“Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, in both original 12” and acapella versions), Kat Mandu (The Break) and a lot more.

The set lacks documentation including only a track list with basic copyright info.  This is unfortunate because there is at least one important track here that goes unrecognized.  The included version of “Weekend” by Class Action is Larry Levan’s rerecording and mix of the tune originally recorded by Phreek.  Levan remade the song explicitly for his dancefloor at the Paradise Garage where it was an enormous success.  “Grand 12-Inches” doesn’t even let you know they have given you the Levan remake.

If you like ’70s and ’80s dance music and are frustrated by radio or album edits, this is a fine collection.  If you like the music and are content with the short versions, the set should come with a warning label.  Once you hear the full dancefloor versions of these songs, the edited versions aren’t going to cut it.

Music from this CD can be heard on Tuned In To Music Podcast 002 – The Paradise Garage (Part 2) Larry Levan

You may also be interested in our review of Grand 12-Inches Vol. 2 

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07/12/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

3 Comments »

  1. More info on the Grand 12 inches can be found at http://www.liebrand.nl/grand12/index.html
    (I mailed Ben about the Class Action remark you made, let’s see what his opinion is ;-))

    Comment by buuck | 05/28/2008 | Reply

  2. The answer to your comment about the lack of documentation is simple.
    There is no budget for a more elaborate booklet as funds for this are rather spent on paying an advance to obtain that one special track.

    If need be, I will pay such an advance personally which should paint a clear picture on how tight budgets are.

    All additional info is to be found (as noted on the booklet) on my site.
    This proved to be the best solution, and the only option if info needed to be updated over time.

    The entry for Weekend reads:

    CD 3 track 7 – Class Action – Weekend 8:25 (original 12″ version)
    There is an even older recording by ‘Phreek’ which is also pretty good, but it was the groove in this version by Class Action that made it stand out. Many believe this track to be Todd Terry’s track, but he did a remix/remake and this really is the original. Probably due to an edit gone wrong, the original 12″ missed 2 bars in the intro right after the piano kicked in. These 2 bars have now been restored.

    This entry will be updated with the Larry Levan info in just a few seconds.

    Also, I feel my part in dance music history right now, is to preserve tracks in master quality before those last masters are trashed , misplaced or otherwise lost forever. Obviously I choose those tracks first that are closest to my roots.

    Compiling these CDs is a nightmare as I am confronted with the result of a declining record industry where most knowledge of what a master is has been lost. 99.9% of all people working at record companies do not have a clue what the technical details of a real master are. And those that do, refuse to spend man-power on a search in their master archives (if they still have one).
    They reason that the income for licensing a track will not even cover the time looking for a master in a library….

    So for all additional info and all suggestions:
    http://www.liebrand.nl/grand12/

    🙂 Ben Liebrand

    Comment by Ben Liebrand | 05/28/2008 | Reply

  3. […] Each of the first three volumes collects 40 tracks spread over four discs.  After reviewing Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and spending the past several weeks enjoying Vol. 3 I’m prepared to say that […]

    Pingback by Review: Various Artists, Grand 12-Inches Vol. 3 « Tuned In To Music | 07/21/2008 | Reply


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