Updated Apr 13 2015: The phenomenally popular Chicago Service was just repressed.
As much as anyone on the outside knows, Marcel Vogel is doing most of this business himself – making songs, DJing parties, and incidentally running the best Chicago label not physically located in the city of Chicago.
I’m talking about Lumberjacks In Hell, which I believe has reached its apotheosis with the multi-artist 100% Chicago double wax Chicago Service release. Every track here is worth being locked in a velvet-draped case where a DJ’s secret weapons are stored – one tops another and loops back around to the beginning. Gene Hunt opens with “Tazz” which seems to throb and sway with the tempo of a delirious man hugging a speaker. Jamie 3:26 has two cuts here: a jangle of percussion and gritty tar shot into Curtis Mayfield’s soporific “Give Me Your Love” and the haywire “Hit It N Quit It” (with Cratebug). Rahaan also has two tracks, and Lumberjacks Boogie Nite and Hugo H also make return to the label as well. Any one of these songs could be that beautiful track that defines this summer for someone. Trying to choose, I feel like the first time I heard Songs In The Key of Life or Electric Ladyland, and I don’t want to pick one.
While many European labels are treating Chicago as a junkyard to scavenge for cheap (used) parts to round out their release schedules, it’s wonderful to see a guy that believes in the city and is investing in it now.
Seemingly unrelated is “Keep In Touch (Body to Body)”, an impossibly sensuous cover of Shades of Love’s 1982 tune originally produced by Lonnie Johnson and Patrick Adams. This song seems to return with the punctuality of Halley’s Comet – a remix years after Shades of Love disbanded hit the dance chart again in 1994 and Vogel’s cover on new Lumberjacks sister label Intimate Friends marks the next pass. I was pretty flabbergasted when I heard this and a couple weeks later, it sounds even better – what felt like slo-disco-fied New Wave now sounds like balearicized ’80s pop/rock or some other blender of half-remembered genres.