John Morales – The M+M Mixes Volume IV

John Morales "The M+M Mixes Volume IV"Almost. I almost overlooked part four of this incredible look into remix legend John Morales‘ work. Edition four again has previously unreleased remixes and a total of 40 tracks, spread over four CDs. It’s a trip down memory lane, especially for someone who grew up in the 80s and started to DJ later that decade.

John Morales has remixed and produced some of the greatest dance music anthems and this new volume starts off dramatically with a 9:29 minute take on Barry White‘s 1973 gem “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More”. My favorite Atlantic Starr tune, 1982’s “Circles”, also gets revamped to over 9 minutes, with pumped-up vocals and a thicker, modern soul groove. The remix also comes with a sax solo and an extended instrumental part, emphasizing the great strings from the original mix. My favorite from the Chic-produced Diana Ross album from 1980 has never been “Upside Down” nor “I’m Coming Out” (although both timeless classics of course), but rather the slightly mellower “Tenderness”. Here, after about five minutes, the track gets a new life with extended re-runs of those incredible Nile Rodgers guitar vamps and those magical backing vocals from Alfa Anderson, Fonzi Thornton, Luci Martin, and Michelle Cobbs. For some reason, I was never really a fan of the 1978 Keith Barrow disco classic “Turn Me Up” (from his “Physical Attraction” LP), especially because of the rather lame vocals. Much more satisfying is the 1979 epic “Can’t Live Without Your Love” by Tamiko Jones, written and arranged by Randy Muller and released on Polydor at the time. John manages to stay true to those glorious Donna Summer disco days and Anita Ward disco drums and yet, easily transports it into the here and now with an irresistible makeover. The track runs almost 10 minutes – over 2 minutes longer than the original 12″.

Jackie Moore has also never been on my radar even though I’m much aware of the classic “This Time Baby” from 1979 of course. Another 10-minute workout here and much to explore. Other tracks on this massive compilation bring you almost forgotten pieces, like the 1979 Motown dance groover “I Just Keep Thinking About You Baby” by Tata Vega which gets additional 3:30 minutes of remix bliss. A true classic. I miss voices like Tata’s these days. Only Jocelyn Brown comes close. A very sweet surprise is the almost 11-minute remix of “Life Goes On” from the very first album by The Jones Girls, a song written by the legendary Gamble & Huff and never released as a single, as far as I know. Guitar and those incredible strings and horns, a trademark on the Philadelphia International Records label, make up most of the elongated remix part here. As are the sweet harmony vocals of the three ladies. A real gem. The signature warm keys which play the melody of “Joy & Pain” at the beginning of Maze featuring Frankie Beverly‘s golden goodie, is worth the trip alone here. It is a pretty long, wondrous, pulsating and timeless remix, trimmed down to its basic core with additional keys thrown in and with an extended keyboard solo. Sweet, sweet memories. CD 3 also features another Maze classic, the equally golden “Before I Let Go” which comes with another surprise electric keyboard solo. The stretch to almost 9 minutes is really topping the original.

I can’t get into detail on all of the songs here – I think it would simply be too much to read. There is a funky remix of “Stay”, the 1986 hit by The Controllers, originally remixed by Louil Silas, Jr. Also, another 10-minute remix of the only Teena Marie song that I never really liked (and here you have the biggest Teena fan): “Lover Girl” does not improve here I’m afraid. Melba Moore‘s Bee Gees-penned “You Stepped Into My Life” (1978) gets a rewarding new twist. As does the Teddy Pendergrass cult track “Life Is A Song Worth Singing”, another Philly classic spiced up to over 8 minutes of heavenly soul. We also get Donna Summer (“Heaven Knows”, 1978) and Lenny Williams (“You Got Me Running”, also 1978) with two exciting re-tweaks. The 1975 Van McCoy-produced hit “Walk Away From Love” by David Ruffin was previously only available as a 5:30 minute 12″. John’s version clocks in at almost 9 minutes and simply intensifies this midtempo, mellow bliss. Another highlight of the set.

Dan Hartman‘s “Relight My Fire” is too worn-out for me, but the Diana Ross anthem “No One Gets The Prize” (1979) really wins a lot. I have never been a late 70s/early 80s Cher fan, but her “Take Me Home” from 1979 is a real revelation. And there is another overlooked gem: the Detroit sisters Three Ounces Of Love with their 1978 Motown diamond “Star Love”. Simply wonderful. I got to have that LP! There is a fancy and funky treatment on “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” which catapulted The Emotions into the higher parts of the charts back in 1976. John plays around a lot with the vocals here. The intro to Cheryl Lynn‘s anthem “Got To Be Real” is another magic moment here. The song truly comes back to life in exquisite form. Needless to say that it is also over 9 minutes long, but John never includes extra lengths, too many repetitions or “dead” beats underneath or over the groove. Very cool keys on this one, too. CD 3 ends with the Eddie Kendricks wonder “Girl You Need A Change Of Mind”.

Still not exhausted yet? CD 4 has Tom Browne (“Funkin’ For Jamaica”) rolling with a continuous funky beat, an 11:30 minute take on “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (1975) with the amazing Teddy Pendergrass (always and still a club hit), another Barry White anthem from 1975, “Let The Music Play”, a few newer pieces from Level 42, Katzuma, and Mannix featuring Dina Vass with a great rework of the Melba Moore classic “Standing Right Here”, the Hi-Tension 1978 cult classic of the same name and MFSB‘s instrumental feast “Love Is The Message”. Almost all of the tracks on this massive compilation are treated with just about the right amount of respect and interpretation. You won’t get bored with this one.



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