Review: In 1988, Deconstruction Records released an album celebrating the North of England's contribution to the then rapidly expanding UK house scene. Entitled North, the album opened with a one-off collaboration between T-Coy (a trio that included Hacienda resident Mike Pickering) and A Guy Called Gerald under the Arnette alias. To promote the album, it was released as a single, with the brilliant original version (think T-Coy's sun-kissed, Latin-inspired house fused with Gerald's mind-altering acid house) being complimented by two brilliant T-Coy remixes that took the track further towards loved-up deep house territory. You'll find all three of those essential versions on this Mint Condition reissue, with the added bonus of Derrick May's little-known 1989 remix (slightly tougher and more spacey, as you'd expect) tucked away on the flipside.
The Future (Cajmere Vision - Luke Solomon Slight edit) (6:16)
Review: For their latest trip into house history, reissue specialists Mint Condition takes us back to 1996 and the TB-303 heavy world of Chicago legend Armando Gallop. "The Future" was originally included on the artist's One World One Future full-length, before going on to become his final single release before he passed away in December '96. As with many of his finest works, "The Future" is a ragged, acid-fuelled delight, with warehouse-friendly stabs and repeated vocal samples riding a sweaty, jacking groove. Turn to the flip for Luke Solomon's subtle re-edit of Cajmere's "Vision" rework, a lolloping and groovy affair that trims the acid lines in favour of denser bass, spacey chords and a superb vocal line ("I see the future", presumably sung by the remixer himself).
When We Used To Play (original extended remix) (8:21)
When We Used To Play (B Bootleg Breakbeat mix) (4:29)
When We Used To Play (Blake Baxter remix) (4:47)
Body Work (8:32)
Review: Mint Condition's choice of material to reissue is always on-point. It would be fair to say that Blake Baxter's "When We Used To Play", which was first appeared on Kevin Saunderson's KMS imprint back in 1987, is another inspired choice. While not quite as celebrated as other early Motor City jams produced by the "Belleville Three" (messers Atkins, May and Saunderson), the "Original Extended Version" boasts all the hallmarks of the then developing Detroit techno sound (think crunchy drum machine beats, restless cymbals, undulating bass and a smattering of sci-fi melodies). It comes accompanied by the obscure, electro-influenced "Bootleg Breakbeat Mix" (almost as good), a rolling and on-point Blake Baxter rework and a sweaty, Chicago style jack-track inspired by Ron Hardy's performances at the Music Box ("Body Work").
Review: When it comes to house and techno reissues, few labels have quite as strong a reputation as Mint Condition. Since launching last year, they've delivered must-have material from Pepe Bradock, Paul Hester, Robert Owens and Circulation, amongst others. Here they turn their attention to the back catalogue of house-era Matthew Herbert, delivering a new pressing of 1996's Classic Herbert. All three tracks are amongst the producer's strongest dancefloor workouts. Check, for example, the bumpin', proto-boompty drums, mind-altering sub-bass and killer vocal samples of "Got To Be Movin", or the whistling melody lines, Detroit techno influences and fluid riffs of the deliciously positive "Fat King Fire". Arguably best of all, though, is the jazzier "Housewife", which feels like a template for so much of his later deep house material.
Review: Since launching last year, Mint Condition has served up essential reissues of material from Iz & Diz (as remixed by Pepe Bradock), Circulation, Plez and Technosoul. Here they've dug up another in-demand and hard-to-find gem, Paul Hester's 1997 UK tech-house classic The Voyage. The EP has aged remarkably well, with A-side The Voyage offering a near perfect blend of heavy analogue bass, swirling pads and shuffling, late night grooves. Flipside "Subsonic Interference" is almost as good, with Hester making merry with bleep techno style sub-bass, bumping drums, and just the right amount of intergalactic electronics.
Review: Mint Condition's latest trip into vintage house territory comes from Mystic Bill, the Chicago-based Floridian whose produced some of the finest Windy City house of the late 1990s. Classics From The Vault Vol. 1 first appeared on Relief Records back in 1997, and has recently become something of a sought-after 12". Naturally, it's stood the test of time rather well. "Mind Ride" is a thumping blend of Ghetto-house drums, relentless electronic tweakery and psychedelic intent, while "The Struggle" tiptoes the fine line between jacking hypnotism and trippy, late night eccentricity. Flip for the loopy, proto-boompty warmth of "Jazz In Space", where synth horns tumble down over and snappy drum machine groove, and the rolling deep house exoticism of "Late Night At The Music Box".
Review: Freaks man Luke Solomon was still in the early stages of his career when he donned the Jean Caffeine alias and released Downtime, Turn Around & Go Backwards. Here, the 1998 EP is given the re-release treatment on reissue imprint Mint Condition. It remains one of Solomon's deeper and more considered collections of tracks. The title track, here featured in freshly re-mastered form, is a tech-tinged deep house treat, with rich chords and tumbling melody lines stretching out across a smooth, bass-heavy groove. "Jean's Train of Thought" peppers a swinging, Chicago-influenced groove with punchy synth horns and Sheffield style bleep melodies, while "Jean's Afterthought" is a deep and dreamy shuffler.
Review: House reissue label Mint Condition landed with a bang late last year, delivering a 12" that accompanied Pepe Bradock's peerless remix of Iz & Diz's 2002 classic "Mouth" with two previously unheard reworks from the eccentric French producer. Here they offer a re-mastered re-press of Techno Soul's sought-after 1992 EP, Expectations. Originally released on obscure Detroit label A.I.F Records, the title track boasts stronger UK influences - dub style sub-bass, breakbeat style house rhythms, and so on - then many Motor City productions of the period. Flipside "Flow With Me" sits somewhere between pitched-down Detroit techno and the smooth deep house of New Jersey producers such as Ben Cenac, while closer "I Need U" is a jaunty chunk of spacey deep house funk.