Various Artists – Bargrooves: Members Only (US Limited Edition)

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I reached-back for y’all to let you know that I wrote music reviews from 2004 – 2011 for About.com/dancemusic, etc.  I found this one, “about” a special U.S. edition and ninth in the series that was out and about with tracks to set you smack dab into the party groove from their first beats and rhythms!  I still love it and I just found the double CD again while  boxing for the “Exodus”.

Here we have a snazzy, attractively packaged double-disc dance CD set “Bargrooves – Members Only” US Limited Edition [Gossip Records GOS-CD-609]. It is a assemblage massed across the great pond by the UK’s Ben Sowton and the Native New Yorkers. You might want to have a little fun by allowing your musical mind’s eye to view it as a kind of “competition”!

Flavaful cover art work and advertising that your “whateva” is a “limited edition” is like putting an “Esq.” or “Ltd” behind your name, intensifying the curiosity and in this case you are well within your mounting intensity to scope this work and include it in your desideratum.

Bargrooves are smooth and at times, almost jazzy dance cuts that play in continuous mode garnering the feel that you have a DJ on your home site, or if your are in the early pre-party preparation stages of your club, you can run these CDs before your DJ arrives and hopefully get your staff in a less mundane mood. The first time I pressed play to peruse these, I imagined myself early after-work at a trendy Bar “X” in Soho; getting libationally loose and this music as the slightly-above-subliminal soundtrack. It was a guaranteed party feel, and I couldn’t wait for the place to start filling-up with potential dance partners!

Label creator and late-night DJ bar entrepreneur Ben Sowton’s disc one is mid-deep House from the outset; surprisingly un-UK-ish, and includes more instrumentals; one of which is the slightly Gare-age-ish “Les Couleurs” by Sebastian Davidson. He weaves in some Soularis seamlessly with “Closer”. That is followed by a sure-shot “get the party started” version of the staple “It’s All Good To Me (Matty’s Soulflower mix)” from someone called Physics. Rippaa!! Next on the marquee is one of our favorite contemporary dance vocalists, lady Tiger Lily with Mike Polo on a version of Nate`’s “Free” that doesn’t compromise and only enhances the message of that classic. A little further into it, it really gets polished on the tantalizing “Time In Motion” by Jay Lumen/Superflava with vocals by Sophia Cairo. The slightly more stylish Disc two is New York City-style in pace, vocals and flow. From the first note on disc two, Central Avenue’s “Tell Me” brightens your mood even though the subject matter here is the breaking-up of a love affair.

On both discs track seven is the lucky number; whether it is Ross Couch’s “Got To Be Right”, or Hott 22’ featuring Angie Zee on “Just Friends”. The latter building the intensity for the rest of the jams to follow on that disc. As I used to say while tooling around Manhattan to a Frankie Crocker/Jonathan Docker mix on WBLS about twenty years ago, “It’s got that wheeze, baby!” I even used it to get my Pajama Bar party started on the air this past Leap Day, so you know it is good!

My favorite of the entire set is “Life Is Like” (number nine) by Richard Gow with Cathy Campani delivering the sultry vocals in a foreign tongue. I had to look to make sure that I they had named the song correctly because I expected to read a non-English song title the companion track on Ben’s disc which reads “Mariposa” – one of Ben’s movin’ instrumentals, by the way. But no, her sultry, lissome foreign language stylings are more than copacetic with me no matter the title.

Actually, there are no bad cuts herein! Both albums can be felt as “lounge” grooves as well, and if that label will help you to go check them and buy, then by all means, have at it! Other categories include “soulful house”, “dance-pop” and “tech with an edge”, they tell me. Hopefully U.S. radio will get hip to this one quickly as apparently most of Asia including my Russian girls, and the southern Pacific islands including Australia are already on it. I can glean no reason to deduct points here. So hear the “grooves” yourself as I set the bar at five “you-won’t-be-sorry” stars. And on that “competition – it’s a stalemate, from your ears to your dancing feet, we all win!!

Listen and comment back at me, ok?

Pickhitt: The group Soularis (playing above) is from Russia, by the way. I interviewed and reviewed them separately also circa 2005.

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