If you’re into Dance music it’s hard not to like a production from Joey Negro, AKA Dave Lee, AKA……’Insert latest project name here’. (Bradd Shitt is my favourite). A guy who embraces dance music roots more than anyone. If Dave Lee had a time machine, I reckon he would head back to the days of Neolithic man, press record on his device and wait as some camp fire gathered peyote ingesting (or fashionable drug of the period) ‘old-timie’ ravers rhythmically drum the night away. Then, masterfully inserting the recording into whatever he is working on at the time. Actually the cowbell on the intro of Raw Essence’s ‘Do you love what your feelin inside’ is in fact, the hollowed out tooth of a mammoth.
The quality of all his releases and his dedication to where it all began -DISCO- is as Lincoln put it, self-evident. But if you’re reading this you already have a good idea about Mr Dave Lee and his giant balls! Well, he must have? To give himself arguably one of the most controversial words of the last three hundred years as his last name. Negro, yes if you say it the right way, it’s fine. ‘Neg-ro neg-ro neg-ro’. See! Apart from thinking. ‘Holy shit, that guy’s last name is Negro’ it has another connotation. Could it be that those first clubbers back in the late sixties and early seventies just so happened to tick the box for every minority voice without one. And could it be that Joey Negro is highlighting the fact that clubbing and ‘its’ deep dark roots stem from groups of gays, blacks, and all the other so-called society outsiders who ritualistically gathered week after week to feel secure, at home, safe and normal.
And could it be that by choosing such a word he is highlighting and forcing the population of Earth to look hatred, discrimination and bigotry square in the face, usurping the shackles of domination, those same shackles that bound countless slaves and who were forced to hear ‘that word’ over and over, century after century as a foul derogatory term . Hailing empty but prevalent boundaries between races who should neither have nor feel any ill will toward one another. And finally, is he asking us wholeheartedly and simplistically to confront and be little one of the twenty first centurie’s greatest taboos?
Or maybe he just thought it was funny.
Either way it was his first of many genius strokes on a dance music production canvas that began in 1993 and doesn’t look set to slow down. Under the guys Akabu this time, Dave has very cleverly selected the vocal skills of Alex Mills. I can’t wait to mix this track and hear Miss Mill’s crystal clear vocals sing the word ‘everybody’ as it is chopped and repeated in sections to form one of those crowd pleasing monster intro’s. Laid over an almost haunting simple chord synth pattern replete with subtle guitar chord flecks that appear intamitantly. A good comparison would be ‘Hardsouls’ ‘Back Together’ and their epic organ style intro that floods over the beginning of the tracks like a pair of heavy set curtains being drawn across items strewn on the floor. Back Together was released on Soulfuric in 2003. 2003! Ten years ago and that has hung around for ever. I suspect Dave had this at the back of his mind when creating Everybody Wants Something, especially as many attributes that made that song great are present here.
Alex Mills has a Youtube page that is short on subscribers but populated with cuts from a November 2012 release of ‘No Artificial Colours’. Her voice is presented on a plate of plucky guitars and live drums with aplomb. I particularly like ‘54321’ with its vast array of percussion and a bass line that brings to mind any 80’s classic movie soundtrack. This appears to be her first dive into the murky world of house production and the line ‘forget the truth just learn the rules’ is both infectious and holds true for a women in her position, as she is about to be consumed by offers of collaboration.
So where does this track fall down? Nowhere really, if you ignore the lyrics that sound as if they have been copied from a Magic 8 Ball. (Don’t speculate on give and take.) But I really am nit-picking. This is dance music, the industry that popularised the line, “I’m as serious as cancer, when I say rhythm is a dancer”. Silly and entertaining lyrics aside, we have come to expect a standard set by this champion of disco house, no matter the mantle on which Dave has chosen to position himself, he still manages to conceptualise the current decade’s interpretation of a genre of music that was first conceived almost 60 years ago. This industry goes through more reinventions than I care to care about. Who remembers ‘UK Funky’ or just recently, ‘Trap Music’? It comes as no surprise to me then that as I write this ‘Everybody Wants Something’ is sitting pretty at No 1 in both singles and tracks chart on Traxxsource. And I haven’t even mentioned the big electro-tinged bass line that floods your ears at around 45 secs in; bound to engulf many a dance floor just as it has engulfed the minds of the true house music enthusiasts, all of whom have been Discotized, it seems, by Dave Lee.
Akabu feat Alex Mills “Everybody Wants Something” Joey Negro Strip Mix
Available here: Z Records Store
Alex Mills ‘5432’
Hardsoul ‘Back Together’