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masters at work

Push The Tempo: The Lost Art of the Disco Tempo Change


Push The Tempo: The Lost Art of the Disco Tempo Change

In the digital age, where everybody (us included) is a DJ, it's very rare that you'd hear a song with a tempo change in the middle. Most modern tracks are rigidly tempo locked, perfect to DJ with but not exactly pushing any boundaries.

In the 70s and 80s, however, there was a trend of producers and artists utilising the tempo change as a powerful tool to add impact in the middle of the track – in some cases changing the mood completely. Here's 3 examples of tracks we love which do just that:

Diana Ross 'Love Hangover'

Perhaps the most obvious choice, this Diana classic starts off as a slow burning, sultry ballad. The tightly mic'd vocals are very much front and centre, as if Ms. Ross is whispering directly in your ear. Then, at around the 2.40 mark, it transforms into a full power disco stomper, complete with massive Earl Young-esque open high hats and a bouncy bassline. Great stuff (and even better, re-edit king The Reflex has recently provided us with a DJ friendly version!).

The Chi-Lites 'My First Mistake'

Now here's where things get interesting. This absolute barnstormer of a track will be best known by most younger readers as one of the two tracks sampled by legendary DJ David Morales on his track 'Needin' U' - a house music anthem and a UK top ten hit in 1998. The original, though, is an incredible piece of work. Beginning as a mid-tempo funk track, 'My First Mistake' has a smooth, horn and string laden intro that essentially acts as a 2 minute build up. Then, the track explodes into what can only be described as complete fire. Insanely catchy vocals, a horn solo, string flourishes left, right and centre – plus listen out for the brilliant baritone male voices in there singing 'bet you bet you bet you' as low as humanly possible.

Taana Gardner 'When You Touch Me'

Perhaps a little more obscure, we discovered this Taana Gardner (of 'Heartbeat' fame) track because it's a Larry Levan production (of course) and features on various compilations, including this great West End Records retrospective mixed by Masters At Work. As the newest of these three tracks, it probably has the most 'kick' production-wise. The beginning is again very sultry, probably inspired by 'Love Hangover', but when the tempo change comes in the track pre-empts house music, transforming into a total banger complete with massive kick drum and four-to-the-floor hats. Plus is comes in at over 10 minutes long!


Halloween Hype Machine

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Halloween Hype Machine

Love Come Down Halloween at The Arch Gallery is imminent, and in the run up to the event we've been counting down the days by posting one of our current favourite tracks each day.

You may have seen our posts on Facebook and Twitter, but we've also decided to put them all in one handy place right here - 5 tracks to get you in the mood for this evening.

1. Change 'The Glow Of Love' (12" Extended Version)

I'm really into Change at the moment - they're so underrated. This track is one of Luther Vandross's first lead vocals (he'd previously been a backing vocalist for Chic, Diana Ross AND Bowie, amongst others), and boy does he deliver. This is some smooth shit.

2. Deep & Disco 'Feel The Rhythm' 

Razor-N-Tape is an awesome label out of Brooklyn, who have delivered a host of great edits and original tracks since they started up back in 2012. Their slogan is: "Cut in Brooklyn. Good for dance", which says it all really. This track is an edit of Chic's 1977 track 'Strike Up The Band', and we love it. But the A-Side to the 12" 'So Tight' is also well worth a listen. It was tough to choose between them.

3. Masters At Work feat. India 'When You Touch Me' (MAW Remix)

Masters At Work's most famous song also features India's vocals, but I recently discovered this one and like it just as much. Straight up, this is disco/house crossover at it's best.

4. Teddy Pendergrass 'You Can't Hide From Yourself' (Dimitri From Paris' Super Disco Blend)

Another incredibly smooth male vocalist in the vein of Luther Vandross, this Teddy Pendergrass track is one of those songs you'll probably know as soon as you hear it. Those horn stabs have been sampled so many times! The ever-reliable Dimitri From Paris brings it up to date.

5. Inner Life 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' (JM 4AM Mix)

A (perhaps THE) Paradise Garage classic - Inner Life's take on the soul standard 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' (a song that, nearly 40 years after its first release, was heavily borrowed from by Amy Winehouse) is for me the definitive version.  Controversially, I'm preferring the John Morales mix to Larry Levan's perhaps more famous version here - mainly because it's slightly more suitable for modern dance floors. You will hear this on Halloween.

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Masters At Work


Masters At Work

Recently I've been cultivating a massive Masters At Work obsession.

Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez and 'Little' Louie Vega have been making music as a duo since the late 80s. They came on the scene just a few years after Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson et al had started using machines to transform disco records into the dance floor fodder we know as house music today - but crucially MAW introduced a host of South American flavoured, organic textures to compliment their peer's drum machine led sound.

The thing that really gets me about MAW productions is their impeccable rhythm sections. Every track has wonderful drum sounds that - with the exception of some of their darker, more club focussed tracks - sound like they've been played by a full percussion section. Basslines, meanwhile, meander around them with a rubbery dexterity that surpasses the musical ability of other house music producers. 

Last week, Defected Records released 'House Masters: Masters At Work Volume 2' - a second compilation going even deeper into the pair's output than the first did a few years back.

Although predominantly a disco night, here at Love Come Down we're also very interested in the intersection between disco and house - two genres that remain intrinsically linked today. Much of Masters At Work's output straddles that divide perfectly, so here's few of our choice pick MAW productions to get you into the vibe before our Halloween party next month (and yes, there is a Simply Red (!) remix in there, but don't be put off by that, it's amazing):

Masters At Work 'When You Touch Me' (M.A.W. Remix)

Simply Red 'Thrill Me' (Masters At Work House Mix)

Masters At Work feat. India 'Backfired' (M.A.W. Main Mix)

Masters At Work feat. India 'To Be In Love' (M.A.W. Mix)

Black Masses 'Wonderful Person' (M.A.W. Vocal Mix)