Masters At Work West End Records: The 25th Anniversary Edition Mastermix

With Masters At Work's Louie Vega and Kenny Gonzalez on both turntables and the re-edit, the vibe of this double-disc set is much more evocative of a block party or a roller-skating jam than a glamorous discotheque - the kind of place where West End Records otherwise earned its legendary name in the late '70s and early '80s. Tracks like "When You Touch Me," "Is It All Over My Face," "Do It To the Music" and other dance floor classics featured here maintain a strong foundation in R&B song structures while emphasising an eclectic range of sounds that were unconventional for soul music of both then and now. Kraftwerk-ian synthesisers and freaky dubs (many of which have been sampled to commercial success by the likes of De La Soul, Coldcut, Roni Size, Moby and Ini Kamoze) are in the foreground, especially on spacy up-tempo cuts like Raw Silk's "Just In Time" and Forrrce's "Keep On Dancing." But clever electronics aside, the moments of unrestrained passion are equally innovative; take the overjoyed harmonica solo on North End's "Kind of Life (Kind of Love)" or the fiery vocals of Karen Young on "Hot Shot," for example. The NYC Peech Boys' "Don't Make Me Wait," with all of its studio treated groaning and moaning, captures one of the most orgasmic moments in music recording history, courtesy of its producer, Larry Levan (of the Paradise Garage). MAW's handling of these gems is smooth and at times a little too slick, but it also keeps the West End sound current. (West End)