Compiled & Edited By Greg Wilson For Tirk Records 2009
Four years on and finally I’ve managed to find the time to complete this long-overdue sequel to my 2005 compilation. I’d originally hoped to get it out in 2007, then again in 2008, but it wasn’t to be (apologies to all those who emailed me, only to receive unintentional disinformation about the album being due the following year). So it obviously gives me great satisfaction now it’s all done and dusted – I’m very happy with how it’s turned out and hopefully you’ll agree that it was worth the wait.
Whilst Credit To The Edit Volume 1, bar a couple of exceptions, focused solely on tracks originally released in the 70’s and 80’s, Volume 2 brings things right up to date, with two thirds of the album made up of recordings from recent years, all of which have done the business for me in the clubs. Whilst Volume 1 connected the past to the present, Volume 2 provides a perfect illustration of how the present is being shaped by the past, with artists from both sides of the Atlantic producing great new tracks that take their inspiration from the type of music highlighted in the first volume, neatly serving to bring the project full circle in the process.
The current underground ‘Disco’ scene, within which the re-edit plays a central role, is no longer purely the domain of an older audience who’ve delved back into what came before, having grown tired of the existing 4/4 formula that has dominated since the Rave explosion of the late 80’s. Nowadays it’s increasingly becoming the dance music of choice for a vibrant younger crowd who weren’t even born when many of the records played were originally released. The term ‘Disco’, especially given its cheesier connotations from the post Saturday Night Fever era, hardly presents the full picture of what’s going on now, but this seems to be what the media have fixed on so it looks like we’re stuck with it. When it comes to this scene that previously had no name, the original 70’s Disco sound is but one of the ingredients that goes into the musical melting pot, for it’s a far wider spectrum the DJ’s are choosing their tunes from, taking in a whole span of styles including Boogie, Funk, Balearic, Cosmic, Electro-Funk, Italo, Hip Hop and other groove-based delicacies (House also features as part of the overall soundscape – as it was originally played during the mid-80’s, in contrast to the ‘all night long’ monopoly that followed). It’s this refreshing diversity that’s caught people’s imagination, providing an appealing alternative to the more orthodox club nights where one narrow four-on-the-floor sub-genre is played from beginning to end, offering little variance in mood or tempo. It’s something of a move back to the pre-Rave days when a whole range of dance music featured throughout the night, from slow grooves right through to the more frantic uptempo stuff – variety being the spice of life back then.
My recent Essential Mix for BBC Radio One was very much in this spirit. Combining the retro with the recent it reflected what I’d been playing during my first five years back in the clubs, including, of course, lots of edits, both by myself and others. Although I was well pleased with the mix from a personal perspective, I braced myself for a split response from the stations listeners – with its ‘in new music we trust’ ethos I thought it might prove to be something of a marmite moment. So, it took me totally by surprise when the online feedback was almost 100% positive – I simply couldn’t have wished for a better reaction. It’s certainly proved to be a landmark event for me, introducing what I do to a whole new younger audience – people who might be into, for example, Dubstep or Tech House, but who emailed me to say how much they enjoyed the mix, despite many of the tracks being older than they are. In a strange sort of zeitgeist-like way it seemed to help re-connect people of supposedly unrelated taste back to common source, giving context to the obvious but often unconsidered fact that the dance music of today has its roots in yesteryear, which, in turn, serves to crystallize in people the realisation / revelation that they’re the heirs to a wonderfully rich culture with a real depth and breadth.
Connecting with younger people is vital. Feeding off their energy I can, in return, bring my experience to the table, so the situation is reciprocal. The worst thing would be to play music to people purely of my own age group, for that would be like trying to re-live the past whilst being completely detached from the present, which strikes me a somewhat sad. Whilst I’ve no problem with nostalgia in itself, I’m not into nostalgia purely for nostalgia’s sake – for me it’s pretty much pointless unless it serves the future, joining the dots between yesterday and tomorrow. It’s the context that’s all important.
One of the great things about music (or, more precisely, music of a certain substance) is that it continues to affect and inspire from generation to generation, and this is why so many tracks from the 70’s and 80’s, including records that were relatively obscure at the time of their release, have found a new audience more recently in clubs throughout the world. The fact they were made so long ago doesn’t mean that they’re irrelevant to people who might not have been born at the time – if that was the case nobody would be listening to recordings of classical music written centuries ago. It’s not that these people are living in the past, but that this music has the magical ability to transcend the ages and resonate with them in the here and now.
I’m under no illusion that without the movement towards re-editing I could never have returned to deejaying in the way that I have. It was an absolutely crucial element, enabling me to get the balance right between past and present when making my comeback at the end of 2003, following a two decade gap, for had I played the same old tunes in the same old way it would simply have been a trip down memory lane and, although some people would have enjoyed this, there would have been nowhere near enough of them for me to become anything more than a short-term curiosity, and I doubt that my resurgence would have had the legs to go much further than the odd booking here and there before I faded back into middle-aged obscurity. Utilising re-edits, both my own and other peoples, enabled me to put a new spin on these older records, whilst the inclusion of more recent productions, often influenced by the type of music I was playing in the 70’s and early 80’s, added a further contemporary twist. This was, and still is, reflected in the juxtaposition of laptop and reel-to-reel as my primary means of presentation, again fusing past and present to create my own unique proposition.
During the past four years the amount of re-edits has increased drastically, with many DJ’s now putting their own together as a potential stepping stone to wider recognition – by sharing files online, or pressing up copies for the vinyl diehards, a DJ’s association with a particularly popular edit can lead to a notable increase in their club bookings. Whilst some believe that the market has been swamped by the sheer quantity of re-edits in recent years, stifling the amount of original productions that are being made and played, others see it as a shot in the arm for the dance scene, an exciting development that regenerates great music from the past, bringing it into a contemporary setting in a non-nostalgic manner. The internet has opened up a whole history of recordings for a new generation who consume their music in a completely different way to how I did growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Whereas once we had to spend a lot of time and energy doing our detective work on an artist or a label, now it’s a case of simply ‘googling’ for your information – it’s literally there at your fingertips. Again, there are positives and negatives, but there’s no turning the clock back. It’s sad to see the demise of the record shop, once an indispensable gathering place where knowledge would be shared between aficionados, but, on the other hand, the information now exchanged on internet forums is manna from heaven for those who are passionate about music and wish to connect with other likeminded souls. Furthermore, the World Wide Web, as the name would suggest, creates global communities, which is why a DJ like myself is no longer limited to the region in which they live as I was back in the 70’s and early 80’s, but connects to people literally everywhere.
Along with the increase there have also been mutations, the definition of an edit nowadays something of a grey area. It was once quite straightforward – the re-arrangement of an existing stereo (or mono) recording on 1/4″ or 1/2″ tape, achieved by cutting the tape with a blade on a reel-to-reel machine (or open reel, to give an alternative name) and re-joining with splicing tape. However, computer technology, as I pointed out in the sleevenotes for the first volume of Credit To The Edit, presents many further options, so nowadays a re-edit takes a number of different forms with the end result often falling somewhere between edit and remix, due to the use of the stems (individual parts) of the original track, allowing for, in effect, a multitrack edit (I generally use ‘version’ these days, when neither edit nor remix feels like the right description, harking back to the original Jamaican term for re-working an existing track).
With this in mind, the edits on this album fall into three separate categories. Firstly there are what I’d call ‘straight edits’, which use nothing but the original stereo recordings (i.e. – The Third Degree, which combines both the vocal and instrumental versions issued back to back on the original single), then there are ‘straight edits with overdubs’, where I include additional samples that weren’t on the original recordings (i.e. – Sugardaddy, a combination of two mixes of the track sprinkled with a supplementary selection of sounds and textures), and finally there’s the ‘multitrack edits’ / ‘versions’ where I’ve had access to the stems of the track (i.e. – 1gnition, in which I use a combination of original parts plus overdubs). There are slight variants on these three approaches, but this is the general gist of how this album was put together. The programs I use are Sound Forge, Cool Edit Pro and Acid.
It’s fitting that these two volumes have been released by Tirk, given its links back to Nuphonic – a company that was at the vanguard of this Disco renaissance via its output during the period 1995 – 2002, including the now seminal David Mancuso ‘The Loft’ retrospectives that did so much to help unshroud the original Disco era for an eager new wave of enthusiasts (issued complete with accompanying sleevenotes courtesy of Tim Lawrence, who’d undertake a major excavation in writing his acclaimed book on 1970’s US Dance culture, ‘Love Saves The Day’). Tirk mainman, Sav Remzi, along with his then partner, Dave Hill, must take a lot of credit for helping plant the seeds from which the current movement has grown. Nuphonic provided the launch pad for some of the contemporary scene’s main players, including Horse Meat Disco co-founder, James Hillard, and my agent, Matt Johnson (Matty J), who co-ordinates the bookings for a number of the key DJ’s.
Special thanks to Sav, to John, Eugene and Richard at MRC and, of course, all the licensees for enabling this to happen. Then, of course, there’s the ever-increasing amount of dancers, DJ’s and promoters, both here in the UK and overseas, who’ve given me, and other DJ’s, so much support and encouragement during recent years, and without whom this whole scene simply couldn’t have evolved to the level it has.
Credit To The Edit Volume 2 publicity photograph by Ian Tilton
© Greg Wilson, 2009