The grand experiment known as Lumberjacks in Hell has been a smashing success. In five years’ time, label owner Marcel Vogel has managed the delicate balancing act of attracting some of the most prominent figures in the modern disco and roots scenes while still being able to give a healthy launch to those just getting started or who could use the boost that comes from being showcased on such a prominent platform. Looking through the back catalog is an education of the sort you actually look forward to. If my teachers played me records from Jamie 3:26, Mr. Mendel and Cratebug, I wouldn’t have spent so much time hiding under the bleachers and plotting my escape.
Many of those mentioned are actually not present on With Love From Hell, LiH’s grand 5 year anniversary plate. No matter: this is still one of the finest compilations I’ve heard since… well, since Lumberjacks’ last one, Chicago Service. Among the holdovers is Boogie Nite, whose “Funk Dr. Boogie” is just a marvelous track – like SJU married to Maggot Brain. The entire first record is filled with four of my favorite people – Boogie Nite, Marcel Vogel and Giovanni Damico and Borrowed Identity – and none of them disappoint. Marcel’s “Come On” is a grimy, sleazy sort of affair with a big fat sloppy bass giving you big fat sloppy kisses on both cheeks. Borrowed Identity and Giovanni Damico on the other hand seem to be sharing some kind of cosmic hivemind, as the former’s “Queen’s Bridge” and the latter’s “The Break Down” just fit together as if they were guided by the same hand.
By way of contrast, the majority of the producers on the second disc of this double 12” collection were unknown to me, at least by the names they’re listed under here. I’m a fan now. Tim Jules’ “Slap Beat” is a disingenuous title for the kind of sprawling organ grinding jam that I’ve always loved (and you can see me rhapsodize about here). At six minutes, it could have gone on for six minutes more and I think an enterprising DJ will probably play it that way. The nearly unpronounceable Hoshiana Anniversary (try it) contributes the hardest banger of the record with “Duke” – a rolling piano floating delicately over driving percussion evocative of Jeff Mills’ “Changes of Life.”
Dan Shake is a known quantity, with 3AM Jazz Club/Thinkin on Mahogani and Walk on Delusions of Grandeur. His “To The Love” draws on the irresistible bassline stroll from so many great Northern Soul records (and maybe first popularized by Alvin Cash & The Crawlers’“Twine Time”, one of Tom Moulton’s favorite songs ever). FYI Chris’s “Banana Bread” ends the record on a decidedly Deep and exhausted sort of note.
This is a stack of wax you’ll not soon forget. I cannot fathom how anyone could not give this the highest rating available, whether it’s a number or a letter or hands held sky high. Mistrust any that don’t.