tisdag 15 november 2011

"I'm a white man, I'm a white man..."

Maxx - To The Maxximum
Released in june 1994

Label: Blow Up, Dig It International, Pulse-8 Records etc.

When Maxx released Get-A-Way in october '93, no one could anticipate the prosperity that the track would reach. A couple of months later we summarized a success at the same level as legendary tracks like Culture Beat - Mr Vain and Snap - Rhythm Is a Dancer. Get-A-Way became an instant hit all over Europe and up until today it's still one of those tunes that still can be played at the clubs. The track earned over 20 releases in various formats and there were a handfull different remix releases as well. It even got released in the US, which wasn't very common for this type of music during the mid 90's. 6 months later No More (I Can't Stand It) got released and became a perfect follow-up. Not as successful as the debut release but still very popular and well enough to maintain a huge intereset thowards the coming album that were about to get released in june of '94.

Maxx consisted of the rapper Boris Köhler (aka Gary B) and the singer Linda Meek. Linda did not participate on Get-A-Way as it was Samira Besic who performed the vocals. Yet Samira was not included in the music video, instead Eliz Yavuz (aka Alice Montana) lipsynced the whole thing. Strange thing is that Linda still is credited as the vocalist on some of the releases of Get-A-Way. What a mess! Boris Köhler (born in Sweden to Yugoslavian and German parents), was distinguished by his powerfull ragga rap in true Jamaican style. The project was produced by "The Movement", the trio of Frank Hassas, Olaf Jeglitza and Jürgen Wind. Olaf and Jürgen also worked on the MC Sar & The Real McCoy project. David Brunner aka The Hitman did the main writing and arrangement.

The album came out in june 1994 and became a huge success all over Europe. It contained 15 tracks including the Airplay Mix of Get-A-Way, the Hot Mix of No More (I Can't Stand It) and You Can Get It, that became the third single all though the 04:25 version on the album never got featured on any of the single releases. For some reason the fourth track of the album I Can Make You Feel Like got released as the fourth single, but the release only contained an edited version the track plus various versions of Get-A-Way and No More. Why no alternative versions, and why pick a track that sucked? Why Heart of Stone never reached a single release is still a big mystery. A side from the two hit singles, it's by far the best track of the whole album. It has very dark and sentimental vocals accompanied by amazing synth and bass elements. Perhaps it didn't get a release only because of the fact that there were no rap included? I guess we'll never know for sure. Other then that there were a couple of listenable tracks. I Want You has some interesting parts, Fight has a great bass line but the rock pieces kills it.

Maxx dissapeard from the scene in less then a couple of weeks. In late 94 the project produced a track called Power of Love thats was featured on Bravo Dance X-Mas. An amazing track that didn't get the attention it deserved. During the spring of 95 the project tried to release a raggamuffin' inspiered track in the same style as Real 2 Reel. It didn't work at all and the release didn't earn any attention at all. There were 2 eurodance versions on the release that had good intentions, but the Airplay Mix was not a successfull experiment.

tisdag 1 november 2011

"Like summer and sun..."

Indra - Anywhere
Released in may 1995

Label: EastWest Orlando

Indra Kuldasaar was born i Sweden in 1967 to Estonian parents. She fled the country around the late 80s and as far as I know, she has not returned on a permanent basis. Indra moved to France, and soon got in contact with the french music business. She released two albums in the beginning of the 90's and to sum it up she released a "Best Of" album in 1994, how ever that's possible after only two albums? Fortunately the Best Of album contained a couple of new tracks in a classic Eurodance style, and those tracks gave an indication on what way here sound was heading.

The eurodance guru Axel Breitung took her under his wings and produced the main parts of the album Anywhere that was released in may of 1995. The album was followed by a single with the same name, released in june 1995 and a follow up called We Belong Together, that came out in november later that very same year. Both of these tracks were produced in a classic Breitung style. Now one exiting thing about the album is that it's produced by a couple producers, all representing different styles of eurodance. Breitung has produced track 1-4 plus the two extended versions. Luke Skywalker, Enrico Zabler and Rico Novarini (mainly known for beeing involved in the Masterboy project) arranged and produced Party Going On and Take Me High were the Masterboy sound can't be missed. Then there is also Tell Me How, an absolute bomb with energetic synths and even a small rap part, but there is no info on who arranged and produced this piece of art. Too bad! Regardless of who made it, it does not sound like either a Breitung or Masterboy produced track.

All together, Anywere is a fantastic album with several amazing eurodance tracks. The fact that there is such a difference in the style of the tracks, makes it a very dynamic release with a lot of treat as a eurodance fan. On the other hand, there is always a backside with this strategy. Ofcourse there will be a lack of uniqueness towards a project that does not chose to dedicate a unique team of producers. What if the producers took b-side tracks that originally was ment for other artists. Breitung is known for having a huge amount of tracks released during the mid 90's, and even if there is loads of amazing tracks among these, they all sound about the same and his dedication to Indra, is not very unique. Incase you have missed out on some of Breitungs projects, you could easily make up for lost time by checking out this compilation. Same thing goes for the Indra tracks provided by the Masterboy team. Excellent tracks, but not very long-term seminal.

Now don't let me fool you with my contrary attitude, Anywhere is still an excellent album!

tisdag 25 oktober 2011

"You Sure Huh...?"

U.S.U.R.A. - Open Your Mind (The Album)
Released in 1993

Label: Time / Deconstruction  

I will never forget the first time I heard Open Your Mind. It was during the fall of 1992 and MTV slowly started to adapt to the fact that club music were about to be played during an increasingly amount of hours during both day and night time. Open your mind became an enormous hit all over Europe and the music video were played on heavy rotation, a video that was very typical for this period of time. The music video consisted of different 3D objects circulating round and round, and also faces transforming in different shapes and colors. Back then this was considered as very futuristic, and then followed many years when we laughed at it. Today the music video of Open Your Mind would probably be considered as a piece of cultural art with it's subliminal messages and ambiguous possibilities of interpretation. The song contained musical samples from 1982 hit New Gold Dreams by Simple Mind and a well-known voice sample from the movie Total Recall (1990) and the single were released in over 20 various versions. The track also became a way for people to prove that electronic dance music could convey serious messages as an answer to the fact that club music still were considered as meaningless. I loved the song from the very first second and still today I listen to it every once in a while.

For a very long time, Usura (or U.S.U.R.A. as it usually was written) were a very anonymous project. No one really knew anything about either the name or the members. Gradually we learnt that they were from Italy (many of the instrumental elements of Open Your Mind and mainly the bass drum, has been used in several Italian releases from the early 90's) and that the leading members were Time Records owner Giacomo Maiolini and the producers Walter Cremonini and Alessandro Gilardi. The name Usura is rumored to be taken from Maiolinis mother Ursula. Usura combined many genres that were popular during the early 90's, in their music. The bass drum was generally a very commanding piece of the tracks and also the decisive fact why Usura were considered as a techno project even though they used eurodance influenced melodies. The single Open Your Mind was followed by Sweat that also became a big hit all over Europe.

Around the same time as the third single Tear It Up were released in 1993, the album came out. None of the other single releases got any international success but in Italy both Tear It Up and the fourth single Drive Me Crazy reached equal success as the first two singles. The "Usura sound" were extremly popular in Italy during this period and the producers spread the style through other projects like Deadly Sins and Jinny, how ever the rest of Europe were not ready for the pumping sound of Usura. The album contained the four singles and another five songs which gave us a total of 9 tracks which ofcourse is a bit few. I can't really find any reason why Usura choose to do so and it's a shame because the album is fantastic and the project continued to release music for antother 4-5 years but without releasing a second album. How ever Usura revolutionized the Italian scene and made a big impact on club music that lasted for many years.

söndag 23 oktober 2011

"Boom shack a lack, 2 puppets in a flack..."

2 Fabiola - Tyfoon
Released in 1996

Label: Dance Opera

2 Fabiola was formed in the early 90's by a man called Patrick Claesen aka Pat Krimson. Pat got his taste of the business working as a promoter with Antler Subway Records and a couple of years later he created his own label called Dance Opera and started to release music under many different aliases and together with many co-producers. Dance Opera recessed as a pure house label with no obvious commercial intentions. 2 Fabiolas earlier songs were pure house tunes and seemed to be released without any actual structure. The project took a different turn after beeing away from the scene for 2 years, when releasing Play This Song in june 1995. Pat and fellow producer Olivier Adams began releasing more commercialized music and choosed to release them under the name of 2 Fabiola, probably because of the fact that the name already had gotten some attention with The Milky Way and Kunta Kinte. Play This Song became a huge hit in many countries around the mediterranean sea and the project profilized themseleves as an odd group of people releasing fun and up-tempo music. The commercial effort with 2 Fabiola made Pat create a sub-label to Dance Opera called Circus. Circus contained projects who produced music in a futuristic sound with influences from trance and dance. The project also featured the singer Aït-Fath Zohra and the background singer Karine Boelaerts aka Carine B (who also participated in Cold Sensation - Bang To The Rhythm, another of Pat Krimsons projetcs).

Tyfoon were released in 1996 and consists of a double-cd, were the 1cd containes mainly radio and airplay edits and 2cd contains remixes, giving us a total of 19 tunes. The album is packed with amazing hits and it's a shame that Pat had to wait until late 1995 to start releasing music like this. Play This Song, Lift U Up, I'm On Fire, Universal Love, Lift Me Up and Freak Out were all released as singles and with the airplay edits plus at least one extra version of all songs, the album sustaines a great dymension towards us as listeners. It simply gives us hours and hours of amazing dance music! The E-Raver Remix of Lift U Up and DJ Joans mix of Raise Your Hands is two of the hidden gems on the album.

One strange thing about the album, is that many of the tracks were included with alternative versions all though there never were an actual release of the track except from the album. Raise Your Hands, I See The Light, A World For U And Me and Piano Latino were all included with alternative version names and it would be very interesting to find out if there were other versions. Pat were a highly productive producer so a possible scenario is that he has tons of unreleased tracks and simply picked the best ones for the album.

As far as I know, 2 Fabiola never got a big hit (a side for Play This Song) other then in their home country of Belgium. In Belgium they were huge and all of their releases reached lot of radio plays, but outside the boarders there were nothing.

onsdag 19 oktober 2011

"If it ain't rough, no, it ain't no thing"

2 Unlimited - Real Things
Released on the 6th Jun 1994

Label: Various

The first album I ever bought was 2 Unlimited - Get Ready. It was in the spring of 1993 and I were 11 years old. The album had been out for over a year and almost two years had passed since hits like Get Ready For This and Twilight Zone began taking over dancefloors all over Europe. However this was way before the golbalism of the medias and internet was still something only computer nerds had heard of. If an artist or a group wanted a big break through, it took something extra. No Limit came out in late 1992 and became the break through factor for 2 Unlimited. Now everybody knew them, and just like me, many people started to explore their earlier work. During the early summer of 1993 the album Get Ready got a sequal and No Limits were released, the success was immediate!

During 93/94 2 Unlimited were highly productive. No Limit were followed by Tribal Dance, Faces and Let The Beat Control Your Body. During this period the group also released a spanish version of the album called Sin Limites. Throw The Groove Down came out as an US-only release were the Quadrapack edition featured 4 12"s containing 13 versions of Throw The Groove Down plus 6 versions of No Limit '94. The ballad Where Are You Know were released in some parts of Asia and tons of remix albums and compilations came out all over the world. As a result of this, the album Real Things were surrounded by insane expectations. No Limits reached the number 1 spot in 7 European countries and the first single of the new album promised big things. The Real Thing reached equal success as many of the earlier hits and the song was launched with an amazing video.

Real Things were produced by the duo Jean-Paul De Coster and Phil Wilde and the vocal performences were still made by Raymond Lothar Slijngaard and Anita Dels. It was recorded at Soundsational Studios and released in june 1994. I still remember the day, I were so excited and together with a friend we went down to the city to buy the album. And i still remember the dissapointment!

During the spring of 1994 the eurodance scene exploded with thousands of new projects releasing thousands and thousands of singles. 2 Unlimited didn't really have anything to proove but still it seems like Real Things were released to distinguish some kind of uniqueness thowards the big mass. Rumours say: "The title was aimed as a dig at the several other similar sounding eurodance acts who had appeared to copy the 2 Unlimited sound" refering to The Real Thing. During a period were simplicity gained massive success on the eurodance scene, 2 Unlimited released an album with complicated melodies and diffuse messages. Not that any of 2 Unlimiteds earlier work made any sense, I mean "No limits allowed, cause there's much crowd".. wtf?! But while Get Ready and No Limits were dumb yet still fulfilled a purpose, Real Things tried to be smooth and intelligent but ending up beeing even dumber.

After The Real Thing, 2 Unlimited choose to release No One as a second single. No One is a slow tempo pop house track and a piece of crap tune to release as a follow-up to The Real Thing. Who got that idea? Here I Go came out as a third single, which made a bit more sense, too bad that the only good thing about Here I Go is the refrain! Fourth single; Nothing Like The Rain, a downtempo song!? The maxi contained two euro influenced versions plus the original album version. In the UK The Real Thing reached the gold status in sales, Nothing Like The Rain didn't even get a release.

Now weren't there any positive aspects of the album? The Real Thing a side, there were a few. Do What I Like is a great track and could easily had been released as a single. Here I Go and Burning Like Fire has promising elements and the refrain of Burning Like Fire is amazing! What's Mine is Mine is a hidden gem and a fantastic track. In fact I can listen to the album today and appreciate many things that I hated back in the 90's. Age makes us forgiving and understanding, but it didn't help when I was 13 years old back in 1994.

tisdag 18 oktober 2011

"Welcome to the world of Masterboy..."

Masterboy - Generation of Love, The Album
Released on the 27th of Oct 1995

Label: Club Zone

Masterboy was formed in the late 90's but it wasn't until 1994 that the project reached their big break through with the album Different Dreams. Once again eurodance became the deciding factor in wether a group would reach the big scenes or not. During the late 80's and the early 90's, european dance music were stuck in a grey zone between the influences from the 80's and the digitized 90's, and the resulst was a genre in a extensive identity crisis. Take a couple of seconds and name five big dance hits from 89-92. After that, do the same thing but pick your choices from 92-95. Same amount of years but a huge difference in the range of songs, and i does NOT take a eurodance fan to figure that out, it's just simple facts. Masterboy actually released two albums before the big boom of the eurodance era, the first one in 1991 and the second one in early 1993. Today no one remembers them.

Through the years, Masterboy has grown into a legendary status as a eurodance act. Masterboy is one of those phenomenons that people with no direct interest in eurodance as a genre, still can list a couple of hits from. Quallity of music is not decided by what get's played on the radio, none the less it still prooves a big point. Today Masterboy is synonymous with eurodance and makes many people relate to the eurodance era.

The group had huge success with Different Dreams, but this blog is based on my personal thoughts and from my personal point of view Different Dreams doesn't stand a chance compared to Generation of Love (GoL). GoL is a solid masterpiece and a perfect example of what eurodance sounds like when all essential elements are included. The album is like an immense eurodance trip from the first to the last second. Everything is there, the powerfull synths, the tight rap parts, the sentimental female vocals containing the pointless yet vital messages of love, hate and/or sex.

It's impossible to raise specifik tracks from GoL, they're all fantastic. Instead it's easier to devide them into different segments in wich we don't have to devide them depending on beeing fantastic or not (as I said, it's impossible!). We have the obvious hits like Anybody (Movin' On) and Generation of Love and both of them are complemented with one extra version. Baby Let It Be falls under the same label. Then we have Feel The Fire and Get It On that probably would have recieved huge success if they had been releases as singles. It's essential to mention the amazing track Give Me Your Love that is one of the most well know album-only tracks from back in the days. This is a subject that I will look deeper into later in this blog. Other then that, there is Feel The Force and The Third Masterboy theme, two tracks with no commercial intentions but still amazing of it's kind. Even the customary slow track, that usually is put on an eurodance album just to create a contrast to all the party music (some people call it Euro reggae, I call it crap), Land of Dreaming was released as a single and retained respectable success.

What's the backside of this release then? Well ther is one. GoL was released during the fall of 1995 and as we all know, 1996 was the first year when the mid 1990's type of eurodance started to fade away. It's impossible to tell if the release date had any negative impact on the release, but it's not impossible.

But honestly, who cares?

lördag 15 oktober 2011

"Can't shake this monkey of my back..."

Culture Beat - Serenity
Released in june 1993

Label: Dance Pool

Culture Beat was formed in the late 80's and gained a fair amount of success during this period of time with a couple of hit singles and an album released in an european version and in an US version. However we had to wait until 1993 when the group revolutionized the whole eurodance world with their immense hit single Mr. Vain. Now up until this period, eurodance was still connected with a some what underground scene. Rhythm Is a Dancer by Snap, made an example of what could come and artists like 2 Unlimited, Captain Hollywood and DJ Bobo did what they could to spread the sound of eurodance. When Mr. Vain was released, they didn't have to fight any longer.

Mr Vain climbed the charts all over the world gaining huge success were ever it was released. The powerfull melody with the strong lead sining act by Tanya Evans and the characteristic rap part by Jay Supreme took the world by storm. No questions asked, just pure energy from the very first second. During the summer of 93 the group, that a side from Jay and Tanya also featured the producers Torsten Fenslau, Nosie Katzman and Peter Gräber, grew in to one of the biggest eurodance acts of the current time. The album came out in june 'bout the same time as Mr Vain was released. Got To Get It came out in september and Anything got released in december.

The album containes all the hit singles in various versions. The version of Mr Vain that was featured on the album is probably the most known version of the song despite the fact that it never got released on a single. The version on the album is 05:31 long and the version in the music video is an shorter and edited variant of that very same version. However the lead track of the maxi single is a 04:17 minutes long version called Special Radio Edit. Why the album version never got released on a single is a question that remaines to be answered. The album version of Got To Get It is also a unique version that didn't reach the maxi single. The versions on the single endures of different strings/organs and a different bass sound. The third single Anything also got a couple of changes. The album version is similar to the Introless version of the single however there is a slight difference in the length of the songs and in various instruments. For instance the album version features a simple bass while the Introless version contains a rolling bass line.

The Serenity album is very unique in many ways. A side from the fact that none of the hit songs reached an actual single release, the album containes songs in many different styles of electronic dance music. Rocket To the Moon would definitely fall under the style of trance during the early 90's and Adelante is a pure house track. Just two of the tracks are under 5 minutes long. When I listened to the album back in the 90's, I actually didn't like it all. When I put it on today, I enjoy every second!

("Can't shake this monkey of my back..." is a line taken out of the rap part in Got To Get It)