Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, Larry Levan’s Classic West End Remixes Made Famous at the Legendary Paradise Garage

The first thing you’re likely to notice about this CD is it’s ridiculous title.  They couldn’t have called it “Larry Levan’s West End Remixes”?  Yeesh.  Fortunately, the kind of thinking that west end remixesproduced the title didn’t carry over to the selection of the tracks included on the collection.  West End Records was a dance label founded by Mel Cheren who was also one of the original backers who bankrolled the Paradise Garage and, as the title tells us, the CD collects 9 tracks mixed by Larry Levan the Garage’s famous deejay. 

I don’t know about”classic” but many of the tracks collected here are well known in the dance world including Levan’s remixes of Taana Gardner’s “Heartbeat”, Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face”, Billy Nichols’ “Give Your Body Up to the Music”, and the New York City Peech Boys’ “Don’t Make Me Wait”.  The collection also includes Ednah Holt’s “Serious, Sirius Space Party which was at the top of a list of his favorite songs that Levan taped up in the DJ’s booth at the Garage.  The track is Levan’s stab at George Clinton’s P-Funk style and, while interesting, shows pretty clearly that Levan had a much better ear for the club style dance music that electrified the dancefloor at the Garage than for the music coming out of The Mothership.  All of the singers and groups included on the collection get one track each with the exception of Taana Gardner who was West End’s most well known artist and who is represented on four of the disc’s nine tracks.  This is something of a limitation as Gardner’s voice was small and thin with neither the power nor the expressiveness of many of her contemporary dance divas like Salsoul Records’ Loleatta Holloway and Casablanca’s Donna Summer.  The prevalence of Gardner tracks gives the collection a sameness that can lead to a loss of interest as the CD plays on.  The liner notes include interesting stories and tidbits about each track that were written by either Mel Cheren or Kenton Nix, who wrote many of the songs.  They are a very nice addition to the music.

Listeners interested in Levan’s remixes have three CD’s to choose from, the “West End Remixes”,  “Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage”  which collects some of Levan’s remixes for the Salsoul label, and Rhino’s two disc  “Journey Into Paradise . . The Larry Levan Story”  which includes  Levan remixes along with other club mixes played at the Garage.  The Rhino collection provides the broadest range of music but if you want to focus on Levan’s remixes you’re better off with either the Salsoul or West End collections.  Both have been remastered and both sound good.  The choice really comes down to which songs you prefer.  If you get either one and like it, you’ll probably want the other.

Music from this CD can be heard on Tuned In To Music Podcast 012 – Larry Levan (Part 2)


09/07/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews


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