In 1987, Gladys Pizarro was working as a receptionist for Spring, an R&B label on its last legs. Spring’s financial controller, Mark Finkelstein, was well aware the company was running on fumes and approached her with an unusual proposition.
“He said, ‘I still wanna remain in this business and I see you keep going out. Would you like to come and work for me?’
“I said, ‘Hell yeah, I need a job!'”
And it wouldn’t go too far to say that from this conversation a dance music titan was born.
That’s just one of the anecdotes in the liner notes for Strictly Rhythm: Underground ’90-’97, a new 3 CD compilation from Cherry Red and co-compiled by the author of Last Night a DJ Saved My Life as well as the aforementioned liner notes, Bill Brewster.
Strictly Rhythm was likely the most iconic logotype in dance music, at least this side of Dance Mania. Underground ’90-’97 tells the story of how they got there. Between the best sellers and the most influential, Brewster & Co. sided with the latter. While the famous names are here, it feels rather like a merit-based selection. Producers like Dan Curtin and George Morel (whose tracks would provide the raw material for an untold number of UK Garage anthems as well as club hits the first time around) take their place alongside Kenny Dope, Louie Vega, Todd Terry and Roger Sanchez, which is how it should be.
The compilers limited themselves to records made prior to 1998 – probably a wise decision. Brewster is probably the best in the business at this – see, for instance, hishis inspired selection from Trax’s catalog on Harmless (which also benefited from not having Screaming Rachael anywhere near it).
Here’s the track listing. Strictly Rhythm: Underground ’90-’97 is out on Friday, February 23 2018 on Cherry Red.
1. THE WARNING (INNER MIX) – Logic
2. LUV DANCIN’ (IN DEEP MIX) – The Underground Solution
3. JUST A TOUCH (JAZZ ELEMENT MIX) – Essence
4. TWO NOTCHES (WARFARE MIX) – Rhythm Warfare
5. WATERFALLS (4 A.M. MIX) – After Hours
6. THIS BEAT IS OVER – DV8
7. “LIL” LOUIE’S ANTHEM – The Untouchables 8. BOOM (HARD MIX) – House 2 House
9. THAT STRING TRACK – U.P.I.
10. CAN YOU FEEL IT (IN HOUSE DUB) – CLS
11. RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE (HARD HEAD MIX) – Phuture
12. MASTER BLASTER (TURN IT UP) (THA WILD PITCH MIX) – Joint Venture
1. EQUINOX (HEAVENLY CLUB MIX) – Code 718
2. MUZIK IS LIFE (LIFE LONG MIX) – DJ Pierre
3. STOMPIN GROUNDS (STOMPIN GROUND MIX) – K.C.Y.C.
4. DEEP INSIDE – Hardrive
5. NEED YOUR LOVE (ORIGINAL MIX)- Groove Patrol
6. WHO DARES TO BELIEVE IN ME? (ORIGINAL MIX) – The Believers
7. NORTHERN LIGHTS (OLD SKOOL RE-EDIT) – Caucasian Boy
8. I COULD BE THIS (TRANSY TRIBAL MIX) – Androgeny featuring Michael M
9. LOVE & HAPPINESS (YEMAYA Y OCHUN) (12” CLUB MIX) – River Ocean featuring India
1. THE THEME (THE LEGEND) – Loop 7
2. WITCH DOKTOR (DARK AGES MIX) – Armand Van Helden
3. HIGHER STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS (TWEEKIN ACID FUNK) – Wink
4. FREAKY (THE BAR HEADS MIX) – Lou 2
5. BREAK NIGHT – The Mole People
6. REACH (“LITTLE” “MORE” MIX) – Lil’ Mo’ Yin Yang
7. DEMON DREAMS (GRAVEDIGGIN MIX) – Hardhead
8. ALL FOR YOU – Dan Curtin
9. KEEP ON GROOVIN’ (IAN’S FIERCE MIX) – DJ Sneak