Sunday, January 02, 2005

Heavy Rotation on the iTunes

When you hear certain songs, do you get cold chills? Maybe it’s just me. Too many lazy Sunday afternoons at Body and Soul, too many nights at Traxx, and stumbling too many times into Twilo or Sound Factory at seven in the morning.

I am sitting on the crosstown bus, pecking away on the laptop, pushing a script deadline at work, listening to my new toy, and thanking an older sistah across from me. She just gave me several pieces of Kleenex, so I can dab my eye. I was tearing.

It happens when I hear certain songs. The music creates a biochemical reaction in my brain. The memories surface, neurons and synapses fire, and I feel wonderful. A tingling sensation on the spine, sweaty palms, even an occasional tear or two. Aural ecstasy.

This is exactly what happens upon hearing First Choice’s The Player. Even more so now, because I am listening to a bootleg remix.

Hopefully you know the song;; it’s required listening for any serious Philly enthusiast, disco fan, or R&B lover. The song debuted in 1973 on an album by the same title. The next year, the producers at Goldmind remixed it, and re-released on First Choice’s next album, Armed and Extremely Dangerous.

The Player was rewritten and produced by Norman Harris and Allan Felder, who went on to create such other Salsoul classics as Dr. Love and Ooh I Love It. The song features some of the most lush instrumentation from that period: a riveting bassline, accompanied by a full brass and woodwind arrangement. You can hear the sax and French horn, tweaked with a clarinet and flute. And stunning vocal arrangement is boosted by a lovely trick each chord has a sharp, organ sting. And a xylophone! It’s quite lovely.

Rochelle Fleming's vocals, as always, are outstanding. FC was an incredible ensemble, but her soprano is to die for. Unlike other FC traxx, like Dr. Love or Let No Man Put Asunder, she doesn’t overpower the other singers. She's actually quite restrained, compared to some other songs. But the break is remixed with her soaring soprano in the background, and there is a powerful reverb. It’s heavenly.

Girls I’m telling you
He’ll be knocing at your door
If you let him in on etime
He’s gotta come back for more

He’s a player, player
He’ll get next to you
He’s a player, player
This is what he’ll do
He’ll shoot you down, down
Right down to the ground

I discovered the bootleg two summers ago on Spiritofhouse. The site is run by Michael Fosati, a very talented Swiss DJ, . Besides showcasing much of his work—he’s influenced by the Body and Soul boys, Francois K, Danny Krivit, Joe Clausell—he highlights a rotating roster of other DJs.

This is what he does with his bootleg: he samples the original bassline, brings in the break sooner, and only uses some of the vocals. It’s more like an instrumental dub, but that’s okay. I love it.