Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, The Definitive 12″ Masters, Vols 1 and 2

Salsoul Records was one of the primary, in many ways they were the primary, small label producers of dance music for the underground dance clubs of New York in the 1970s and definitive 12 v 1’80s.  Their catalog has been shamefully neglected in the US but Salsoul Records UK has been engaged in an extensive reissue program that is making a world of club-oriented dance and disco music available.  When reviewing their Salsoul Orchestra Anthology I complained that the short versions of most of the tracks on that collection was a source of frustration.  That frustration is more than eliminated by these two volumes of 12″ club versions of first-rate dance tracks from the Salsoul catalog.  I also remarked in the earlier review that after three or four Salsoul Orchestra tunes they all began to sound the same (especially under the direction of Vince Montana).  Again, that problem doesn’t exist here because in addition to the Salsoul Orchestra we get tracks from First Choice, Instant Funk, Candido, Inner Life, Double Exposure, Inner Life and Salsoul’s great dance diva Loleatta Holloway among many others.

While short album or radio edits of many of these tracks are fairly easy to find, the 12″ dance club mixes are not and having so many of them gathered together on these two definitive 12 v 2Volumes is like hitting the motherlode.  Each Volume is a two disc set with most tracks being 12″ club mixes or remixes.  There are a few “original album versions” that are faded out but they are uncommon.  Many of the mixes or remixes were done by some of the most well known club deejays or mixers of the time.  Across the two sets we get mixes from the Paradise Garage’s Larry Levan (on Vol 1, “Got My Mind Made Up”, “How High”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and “I Know You Will”; on Vol 2, “First Time Around” and “It’s Just Begun”), Tom Moulton, the man who was the premier mixer of dance music at the time and who basically invented the 12″ club mix (on Vol 1, “Ten Percent”, “My Love is Free”,and “Doctor Love”; on Vol 2, “Helplessly”, and “This Will Be a Night to Remember”), Walter Gibbons (on Vol 1, “Just as Long as I Got You”; on Vol. 2, “Nice ‘N Nasty”, “It’s Good for the Soul”, “Everyman”, and  “Hit and Run”) and many more including Tee Scott, David Rodriguez, Bobby D.J. Guttadaro, and Shep Pettibone. 

From the packaging it looks like each track in these collections was also reissued individually on vinyl for deejay use.  The only weak part of the CD compilations is that the booklets appear to simply reprint the blurb that was printed with each vinyl reissue.  The blurbs tend toward mega-hyped, quasi hysterical blather with a low useful info to PR bullshit ratio.  This music is so good, the sound quality is so high, and Salsoul UK is doing such a fine job with their reissue program that are really doing themselves a disservice with these cheesy booklets.

Unfortunately, both these collections are only available as imports so they are not cheap.  However, if you like this music or if you want to introduce yourself to the deep dance music of New York’s ’70s and ’80s nightworld, “The Definitive 12″ Masters” are hard to beat.  

Music from Volume 2 can be heard on Tuned In To Music Podcast 006 – Jingo: Listening with Open Ears

Music from Volume 2 can be heard on Tuned In To Music Podcast 009 – Tom Moulton (Part 1) “A Tom Moulton Mix” and Tuned In To Music Podcast 010 – Tom Moulton (Part 2) Accidental Discoveries


08/02/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews


  1. […] of 12″ tracks under the general title “The Definitive 12″ Masters” (reviewed here).  Still and all, the short versions don’t do justice to the music or the Orchestra and […]

    Pingback by Review: The Salsoul Orchestra, The Anthology « Tuned In To Music | 08/02/2007 | Reply

  2. Loleatta Holloway is more than a “dance diva.” She is one of the greatest soul and gospel singers “EVAH”!!!! If you listen to the albums she made during her disco years, she also included fabulous soul ballads that showcased her talent as a soul artist.

    The album with Bobby Womack was one of my favorites. Yes, her disco stuff was wonderful, but don’t categorize her only as a “disco diva.”

    Comment by O.P. | 08/03/2007 | Reply

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