ESG A South Bronx Story 2

The announcement that innovative dance act ESG have hung up their congas after 30 years ties in rather nicely with the second edition of A South Bronx Story. The first volume, released in 2000, not only introduced the sisters Scroggins to a whole new generation but also helped underpin the strength of the disco/punk/dance craze coming out of NYC’s underground circuit at the time, which they obviously influenced. Last year’s new studio album, Keep On Moving, showed the ladies hadn’t lost their beat, but both that recording and 2002’s Step Off failed to match the innovative output of the band’s heyday. For that reason alone, it’s exciting to hear another Story told, because once again the Scroggins family and Soul Jazz have uncovered more of the band’s best bits. Centred more on dusty rarities, Story 2 doesn’t fall victim to the incoherence that usually plagues these releases. Of course, there are the standard alternate versions of hits like "You’re No Good,” "Erase You” and "Moody,” but the existence of these versions is revelatory, especially "Moody,” which ups the attitude in Renee’s vocal charge and throws in an even fresher polyrhythm. Hell, even the pointless "Dance to the Beat of Moody,” a cut and paste union of "Moody” and "The Beat,” feels good in the mix. It’s also nice to have seminal hit, and Paradise Garage anthem, "Standing in Line” available once again, as well as a few others that haven’t been heard for at least two decades. Story 2 complements the original not only musically but visually, with another inviting package that slides onto a shelf flatteringly next to its predecessor. (Soul Jazz)