Larry Levan – Genius Of Time
T Connection’s ‘Do What You Wanna Do’ (my first 12 inch record), Greg Edwards ‘Soul Spectrum’ radio show on a Saturday evening, Odyssey’s ‘Native New Yorker,’ speed, my sister plastered in inch-thick make up, pulling up the zip on her flares with pliers before heading out to Louise’s, the Embassy and Maunkberrys, cocaine, Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, sequins, Teena Marie’s ‘Behind The Groove’, poppers, gay men in spandex, my brother dancing to Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’ in his bedroom, straight men in pink Doc Martins and a tutu, Patti LaBelle’s ‘Lady Marmalade,’ my other brother in his lipstick and eyeliner ready for a night’s clubbing, Roy Ayers ‘Running Away,’ Giorgio Moroder, etc, etc…at least, that’s what it was to me as a 12 year old growing up in a London suburb in the mid ’70’s.
Hedonistic, ludicrous, joyful, escapist but also with love and passion at its heart, not to mention great sounds, that was disco. In among all this was Larry Levan who became a revered figure as resident DJ of the legendary Paradise Garage in New York for a decade beginning in 1977. His influence as a DJ was such that he is seen as the harbinger for the club culture that came with the emergence of house. In addition to being hugely influential as a DJ, Levan was a prolific producer and this double CD features some of his best work.
There’s the funked up, pre-house stomp of ‘Real Love’ (Man Friday), the delightfully upbeat ‘Walking Into Sunshine’ (Central Line) and ‘You Can’t Hide Your Love From Me’ (David Joseph) not to mention Levan’s own group, the Peech Boys with the celebratory ‘Life Is Something Special’ and the seductive ‘Don’t Make Me Wait.’ Female vocalists also feature in a big way from the deliciously sexed up reworking of Grace Jones ‘Feel Up’ to Gwen Guthrie’s exuberant ‘Padlock,’ Esther Williams belting out ‘I’ll Be Your Pleasure’ and the proto-house beats of Syreeta’s ‘Can’t Shake Your Love.’ Levan’s mixes and production also extend to Merc & Monk, Loose Joints, Jeffrey Osborne and Dee Dee Bridgewater all of whom are present here.
A very welcome release providing a delightful insight into the music, feeling and attitude of that era, some of which we could do with a bit more of these days, perhaps. The album’s out today on double CD.
Review by D
Larry Levan is an undisputable dance music God whose importance cannot be underestimated. Devotees lucky enough to witness him in situ and general lovers of divine sounds are hugely inspired by his musical legacy. Even those unaware of the man unwittingly feel his presence, such is his enduring influential reach across the years, hence the title, ‘Genius Of Time’.
Synonymous with creatively-original and emotionally-charged DJ sets at revered NYC club the Paradise Garage, the curatorship of Larry’s sets became known as a genre in itself. This provided the earliest definition of what is now known as garage – the characteristics of which can still be heard in the genre to this day.
As well as being a DJ and industry tastemaker whose selections influenced radio playlists and in turn the national charts, Levan was a pioneering perfectionist in the studio, responsible for classic versions of tracks in which the blueprint for future club sounds was drawn.
‘Genius Of Time’ serves as an ideal compendium of Levan’s work as a remixer and producer. Whether his take on Grace Jones’ huge Compass Point classic ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, his rolling Instrumental Dub of soul star Smokey Robinson’s ‘And I Don’t Love You’, lesser-known gems like his smoking hot electro re-work of Bert Reid’s ‘Grooving With You’, or the dark ‘n’ sleazy deep house masterpiece ‘Real Love’, the quality of Larry’s work here never dips below the amazing mark.
‘Genius Of Time’ is a cultural history lesson, but also simply a joy to hear, bursting with full-blooded, timeless and life-affirming analogue euphony.
1 NYC Peech Boys ‘Life Is Something Special (Special Edition)’
2 Syreeta ‘Can’t Shake Your Love (Larry Levan Mix)’
3 Gwen Guthrie ‘Padlock (Larry Levan Mix)’
4 Man Friday ‘Love Honey, Love Heartache (A Larry Levan Mix)’
5 Merc & Monk ‘Carried Away (Larry Levan Remix)’
6 Dee Dee Bridgewater ‘Bad For Me (Larry Levan Mix)’
7 Bert Reid ‘Groovin’ With You (Vocal, Levan Edit)’
8 Tramaine ‘The Rock (Garage Vocal Version)’
9 Man Friday ‘Groove (Larry’s Yaw)’
10 Jimmy Ross ‘First True Love Affair (Larry Levan Remix)’
11 Gwen Guthrie ‘Seventh Heaven (Levan Mix)’
1 David Joseph ‘You Can’t Hide Your Love (Larry Levan Mix)’
2 Grace Jones ‘Feel Up (Larry Levan Mix)’
3 Gwen Guthrie ‘It Should Have Been You (Larry Levan Mix)’
4 Loose Joints ‘Tell Me (Today) (Larry Levan Mix)’
5 Esther Williams ‘I’ll Be Your Pleasure (Larry Levan Mix)’
6 Man Friday ‘Real Love (The Paradise Garage Mix)’
7 Central Line ‘Walking Into Sunshine (Special Mix)’
8 Jeffrey Osborne ‘Plane Love (Specially Remixed Version – Larry Levan Remix)’
9 Gwen Guthrie ‘Peanut Butter (Long Vocal) Larry Levan Remix)’
10 Smokey Robinson ‘And I Don’t Love You (Instrumental Dub)’
11 Peech Boys ‘Don’t Make Me Wait (Extended Version)’