Chakachas’ “Jungle Fever” (the S-Man’s Jungle Edit) is the first track on “Choice”, and the whole “classics” tag is nowhere more deserving than it is on this track. However, the game is bumped up further with the inclusion of the very-Santana like guitars that are dominant throughout “Darkest Light”, a track by Lafayette Afro Rock. The track sounds almost as if it was sampled for an early nineties rap track. Manu Dibango’s “New Bell” has a more eclectic style to it than any of the other tracks on the CD had up to this point, but there are just so many different streams playing throughout this track that it becomes hard to keep a focus on what is going on.
Fela Kuti’s “Upside Down” (again, remixed by Sanchez) is a track that seems to grate on listener’s ears, with the back and forth of the vocals that are dominant on the track. Pieces of a Groove bring the track back up to a strong point with their “Mt. Airy Groove”, a track that has strong instrumentation mixed with a funky groove that never quits. The subtle, quieter sound of Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican” is infused with a more intense set of vocals that really acts as a counterpoint for the quietness achieved on the earlier part of the track. Sanchez makes a pretty good mix with these underground classics, but what would be interesting to hear would be the tracks in their original format. Individuals may not know all the acts like Sanchez knew them, and to have this included at the end of each disc would be a nice inclusion to see how visionary Sanchez really is.
However, the best track on both of these discs has to be the mid-eighties dance sound of Wide Boy Awake’s “Slang Teacher”, something that blends Depeche Mode with Yaz to make a solid track. Sanchez comes up with some amazing tracks from the music of the last forty years; I know the series is being designed where master remixers are given the ability to do these remixed CDs, but I would like to hear a second or third trip into Sanchez’s full record bins. Hell, perhaps their inclusion on Sanchez’s “Choice” will allow some of these long-forgotten acts to have a popular renaissance on radio and dance floors throughout the world. Give it a go if you have exhausted popular music, both present and older.
Top Tracks: Lafayette Afro Rock / Darkest Light , Wide Boy Awake / Slang Teacher
Roger Sanchez – Choice: A Selection of Classics / 2007 Azuli Choice / 27 Tracks / http://www.releaseyourself.com / http://www.azuli.com / Reviewed 16 February 2007