Various Groove Merchant Turns 20

Groove Merchant records is a legendary, globally significant terminus for rare and crucial grooves located on Haight St in San Francisco, CA. Its elite team have hooked up aspiring DJs for years, and it looks like they're one music retail outlet that will defy the odds and stay strong for the foreseeable future. One pitfall in working in such rarefied air is the pursuit of ever-rarer grooves at the expense of the actual quality of the music. That's the problem with this compilation. No doubt you'd spend well into four figures assembling these cuts on your own, but taken together, it's far from a consistent treasure trove. First, the good news: Ron Forrella's "Crystals" starts with a sublime break and the rest of it is classy also. But there are too many second-rate R&B cuts and fusion outings that never rise above their individual ingredients. Worst, and most surprising of all, is the pace, which starts out with some momentum, but meanders to the finish. (Ubiquity/Luv N' Haight)