If there’s an award for the artist that appeared on the most smash hits released without his name on the label, Glenn “Sweety G” Toby would win on the first ballot. There isn’t such an award, though. That’s the point. A trend took hold in dance music that you can probably trace back to the 1980s when the producer (before then, mainly just the guy that paid for the fucking thing) began to claim the top line on records. The vocalist (who sometimes was also the co-writer) had his or her name appear following the word “featuring” – and sometimes it didn’t appear at all. Ron Carroll, a Chicago guy who wore both guises, used to strongly criticize the practice once it jumped continents and became common in Europe, but for the most part there are still a lot of wrongs to make right and a greatest hits collection featuring Toby goes a long way toward paying it forward.
“Ma Foom Bey” is likely Toby’s most famous record – the “Love Chant Mix” in particular has had its sinister bassline, tribal groove and equally ominous vocal fill countless rooms in the 31 years since it was first released on Easy Street. It leads off with a “Previously Unreleased Mix” (there is a vault where these are being unearthed and Geraldo is pissed he can’t find it), mixed by Tony Humphries and edited by Victor Simonelli. It manages to capture the sparse, minimal effects of the original extremely well. You probably had to be there, when Italo was still coursing through the veins of House Music’s pioneer producers to be able to pull this off. All of these guys were.
“Mind Games” and “Power” represent the other two tracks mixed down by Tony Humphries; the Spirit of ’86 is palpable in these orchestra hits and booming drum pads. “Mind Games” is probably my favorite Toby vocal – and almost certainly due for a cover version, if anyone is looking for some interesting material to fuck around with. “Wake Up” is another signature vocal for Toby. I remember originally hearing this on a Vinyl Solution LP under the name “Nu Civilization,” an LP that you can find dirt cheap these days and which is loaded with NY Garage wonders. “Wake Up” is another uplifting track that sounds marvelously chipper and uplifting in this context and could make someone a million dollar career if they found this material again.
It’s crazy to me how people have fallen all over fads and trends in the last 10 years, most of which we burned through quickly (and were burned out down to cinders and ash before everyone got nostalgic for them). Meanwhile, in plain sight, here’s this amazing catalog of a man, waiting to be picked up and given some shine again. I hope this points the way a little toward the light.
It’s Time: originally published in 5 Magazine Issue 147 featuring Kevin Yost, Jenifa Mayanja and Sound Warrior, Gavin Hardkiss, why music got cheap and gear got expensive (and it’s mostly your fault) and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full Access to Real House Music for only $2 per month!
Various: The Best of Glenn “Sweety G” Toby (Bassline Records)
1. Cultural Vibe Featuring Glenn Sweety G Toby, Tony Humphries: Ma Foom Bey (Previously Unreleased Mix) (Edited By Victor Simonelli) (7:23)
2. Cultural Vibe Featuring Glenn Sweety G Toby, Tony Humphries: Mind Games (Club Vocal Mix) (8:08)
3. Cultural Vibe Featuring Glenn Sweety G Toby, Tony Humphries: Power (Club Vibe Mix) (7:11)
4. MSG Featuring Glenn Sweety G Toby, Boyd Jarvis: I Can Tell (Club Mix) (4:14)
5. Cultural Vibe Featuring Glenn Sweety G Toby, Timmy Regisford: Dance Baby (Club Mix) (8:31)
6. Glenn Sweety G Toby, DJ Camacho: Holiday (Club Mix) (8:05)
7. Nu Civilization Featuring Glenn Sweety G Toby: Wake Up (Shay – Ama) (Frankies Radio Mix) (4:49)
8. Glenn Sweety G Toby, Jason Load, Pavel DeJesus: You Got Me Workin (Radio Mix) (3:39)
9. Nu Civilization Featuring Glenn Sweety G Toby, Victor Simonelli And Glenn Sweety G Toby: When Will We Be Free (Underground Trax Mix) (6:50)
10. Groove Committee, Feat Glenn Sweety G Toby, Victor Simonelli: I Wanna Hold You (Club Mix) (7:10)