Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, Grand 12-Inches Vol. 3

The Grand 12-Inch series (currently at 5 volumes) collects dance music from the 70s and 80s in the 12″ versions that were specially mixed for club play.  Each of the first three volumes collects 40 tracks Grand 12-Inches Vol. 3spread 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 these discs are the best collections of this kind of music I’ve heard.  It’s no contest, nothing else even comes close.

The sets are put together by Ben Liebrand a Dutch DJ, remixer, and producer who both knows and cares about this music.  Not only has he taken the time to search out these hard to find versions, the tracks he gives us are taken directly from the master recordings.  That means we are not only getting a wealth of good music, we are getting music that, in many cases, sounds spectacular.  In producing music that is designed to sound good when played back in compressed formats through iPod earbuds the industry has been using drastic compression so that music will sound uniformly loud.  The result is music with almost no dynamic range that sounds flat and lifeless when played on anything like a decent sound system.  Compression was not used so heavily in the 70s and 80s so the music sounds much deeper and richer.  Combine this with Liebrand’s inisistence on using the master recordings and you get exceptionally fine sound on many of these tracks.  Crank the volume on these numbers and they sound spectacular.

In most cases the difference between the radio version and the 12″ club version is the latter’s extended break.  Sometimes an extended break would be adapted for the beginning or end of a tune but no matter where they put it in the tune, it was the break that made the 12″ versions so exciting on the dancefloor.  There are so many excellent examples on Vol. 3 that listing them all would come close to listing all forty tracks on the collection.  The Reddings’s “The Awakening” opens with a bass solo that’s like a master class in slap bass.  “I’m Not Gonna Let You Go” features a kick ass break with Colonel Abrams singing a duet with himself in stereo.  I believe the 11+ minute version of M.F.S.B.’s era-defining “Love is the Message” is the Tom Moulton mix.  The 13+ minute extended outro with skit on “Cruisin’ the Streets” by Boys Town Gang is not for people who are offended by, uhh, “alternative” lifestyles. lol  Some other notable tracks include a disco version of Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Everybody”, a 10+ minute live version of the Commodores “Brick House”, Janis Ian’s “Fly Too High” produced by Giorgio Moroder, parts 1 and 2 of The Chaplin Band’s “Madmen’s Discotheque, and much much more.

My only disappointment with Vol. 3 is that the Shelter DJ mix of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Fantasy” won’t play on my main CD transport because of a manufacturing flaw.  It’s a quality control problem at the pressing plant, not a fault of the collection and it’s only one song . . .  But still, it’s a really good song and the volumes in the Grand 12″ series are too expensive to buy a new set just to replace one song.  The series are only available in the US as imports and they’re expensive.  This will likely be a problem for some listeners but the quantity and very high quality of sound reproduction of the music you get easily makes each of the first three volumes worth the cost.  Can’t afford to buy two of them to replace one song, however, which is a bummer because I really like “Fantasy”.

If you like 70s and 80s dance music Grand 12-Inches Vol. 3 is highly recommended.  While cut-down radio versions of some of these songs can be easy to find, the 12″ versions often are not.  You won’t find more of them gathered in one place and reproduced with such brilliant sound as you will find on the volumes in this series.


07/21/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. don’t have the latest album yet. hope it’s good. i’ll check around for their singles to see…

    Comment by dance music online | 08/04/2008 | Reply

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