Just in case you’ve not heard of Walter Gibbons, he was one of the original New York disco DJs that made his name in the 70s with special edits/mixes and generally giving the disco crazy kids the length that the record companies just didn’t understand.
And with that in mind, Jungle Music in PC terms is probably thought of as a an old fashioned negative description with racial overtones; but Strut are happy to ignore any such thoughts when you apply to the music that Walter Gibbons was associated with as it is a phrase that is nothing less than an percussive adulation.
The 2 disc collection may only be 14 tracks but they’re all corkers and the opener ‘Sun, Sun, Sun’ sets the happy mode button to 11 with if ‘Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh’ break, horn, keys and percussion towards the end.
I’m guessing that Jakki never did anything as good again but there’s no need to worry as Walter got involved with monsters all the time. And when Northern Soul went Funky (at the time, you’d find it in the “Modern Room”, Ha!), it’d sound like the classic ‘Ten Percent’ by Double Exposure (Salsoul let Gibbons loose on the master tapes for this ’76 set the tone blueprint).
On the strength of these two tracks along, you need not droop no more as the Fist O’Funk Orchestra (fantastic synth biz and percussion), Gladys Knight (in super disco diva ‘change the locks’ anthem form – it’s better than brilliant) and the Salsoul Orchestra (seriously party) follow up with more killers.
CD1 ends on a couple of new ones on me, more Modern Room vocal gymnastics from Sandy Mercer with swinging strings and from back in the day, Bettye Lavette who does the best she could, but Gibbons makes it even better.
Over on CD2, it starts of with arguably the most influential member of the underground club/NY No Wave/Impro Jazz scene of the time whose influence would not be truly recognised or appreciated until after his untimely death; of course this is Arthur Russell. His track ‘See Through’ is previously unreleased and is probably more of interest to fan ‘This Is How We Walk On The Moon’ period completests than disco heads but as Dinosaur L, ‘Go Bang’ is seminal class and as this mix is previously unreleased, everyone needs this.
After that, it’s a bit hard to keep up with the standard and the musically leaning becomes more 80s with early electro hip-hip Strafe. That said Arts & Craft’s ‘I’ve Been Searching’ is a re-discovered disco banger (think Simon of The Simonsound with a disco ball) and he wouldn’t be too unhappy grovin’ to the spacey warped strings and things of ‘Moon Maiden’ or the bongo beats/scratch of ’4 Ever My Beat’ (Ouch, totally free-style hip-hop cool bongo-dubness).
So this collection of two absolutely fantastic post Disco Discharge CDs are thoroughly recommended. Of course, after listening to this, it’s so hard not to try and reconcile the excellence of the contents with the thought that Gibbons spent his last days living alone in a YMCA before dying of complications from having AIDS. That was in 1994 when he was only 38!. Like so many other musical visionaries, it’s hard to imagine what he might have been doing today, especially with the benefit of up-to-date technology. And there would be many modern day contemporaries that would wish to have one/any of the these tracks that were “mixed with love” with their name on the credits today.
This is the long overdue and first ever release that presents a wide range of Gibbons work as such you’d be mad not to embrace it as we’re all out to play – long live Jungle Music: I (still/always) just wanna ‘Go Bang’!
Reveiwed: Walter Gibbons – Jungle Music – Mixed With Love: Essential & Unreleased Remixes 1976-1986 (Strut) Cat. No: STRUT066CD 2xCD Release date: 2nd August 2010
1. Jakki – Sun… Sun … Sun … (Walter Gibbons Original 12″ Edit) (9:23)
2. Double Exposure – Ten Percent (Walter Gibbons 12″ Mix) (7:04)
3. TC James & The Fist O’Funk Orchestra – Get Up On Your Feet (Keep On Dancin’) (Walter Gibbons mix) (11:11)
4. Gladys Knight – It’s Better Than Good Time (Walter Gibbons 12″ Mix) (6:53)
5. Salsoul Orchestra- Magic Bird Of Fire (Fire Bird Suite) (8:05)
6. Sandy Mercer – You Are My Love (12″ Version) (7:34)
7. Bettye Lavette – Doin’ The Best That I Can (Walter Gibbons 12″ Mix) (11:02)
1. Arthur Russell – See Through (Walter Gibbons mix) (3:44)
2. Dinosaur L – GO BANG (Walter Gibbons unreleased mix) (12:26)
3. Strafe – Set It Off (Walter Gibbons 12″ mix) (9:46)
4. Arts & Craft – I’ve Been Searching (Walter Gibbons 12″ mix) (9:57)
5. Luv You Madly Orchestra – Moon Maiden (12″ mix) (8:49)
6. Stetasonic – 4 Ever My Beat (Beat Bongo mix) (6:55)
7. Harlequin Four – Set It Off (US 12″ version) (5:51)