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  • Dimitri from Paris :Get Down With The Philly Sound

    Dimitri from Paris :Get Down With The Philly Sound

    BBE Records proudly presents its 5th and arguably most exciting compilation with the French dj and ambassador of disco, Dimitri from Paris. This compilation focuses on Dimitri’s essential disco era tracks - made in Philadelphia, that feature the core of the rhythm section that created and defined the sound of the genre. For this compilation Dimitri has exclusively reworked 5 tracks from the original multitrack tapes of Gamble and Huff with a further 4 being edited from the original 2 track stereo masters.


    From Dimitri -
    "Disco Sucks

    I used to really hate Disco. In my teenage years in the late '70s I clearly remember how the Disco I could hear in my Paris hometown generally sucked, and big time too. I liked artists like James Brown, Barry White, Shalamar, the Whispers or D-Train but I'd call it Funk. That was a cool thing for someone to be into. But Disco? That byproduct of white boys in sequined suits from the radio? No way.
    So what happened that made me like Disco so much, and bring you a Philly Sound collection?

    Let there be House

    House music was born in the late '80s and It had a huge impact on the young and aspiring DJ I was. Back then, as far as club music and it's dancing potential went, I didn't know any better, literally. To me, House music took Funk to a new level. It kept its musical harmonies but did away with the laidback feeling in favour of a much faster and powerful rhythm drive. When it was not a plain intsrumental groove it would feature uplifting, almost gospel like vocals, interlaced with swirling layers of synthesized horns and strings. Most of all it always had killer basslines that would drill into my head and steal the show. From Chicago to the world via - and thanks to - UK's clubland, House Music grew in popularity and gave me the urge to find out how it came about. After reading a lot of liner notes and articles, one word was alway coming back: Disco. It seemed I had missed that one step


    House Music was described as a new form of Disco. It was using all its key elements, but with electronic machines instead of a group of live musicians. It was the offspring of a generation of Chicago DJs and clubbers who grew up on Disco. Its electronic, minimalistic sound was merely the result of the simple means used to create it. It was (and still is) much more affordable to record with a few sound generating boxes than a whole orchestra.
    So I started to dig for the Disco that House Music was built from. And I realised it was luckily not the Disco I knew. Not a shallow made for top 40 radio product but something with soul, inspiring and bursting with intense and joyful energy. The more I dug the more I was loving and refining my taste in Disco. Artists and producers were standing apart and soon outshone the newer records they inspired.

    The House that Earl Built

    A particular type of Disco became my favourite. It was sophisticated, skillfully orchestrated, and powered by an irresistible drum and bass groove. Its rhythm had a unique style that became the benchmark for me to gauge all grooves, a great example being on the song The Love I Lost by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.
    It had the now familiar Disco rhythm but on top of the ubiquitous flying high hat it had the bouncy snare that House Music made its own. So many times imitated but as i could finally realise, never equalled. Most of all, The Love I lost was released in 1973, years before Disco was defiined as a genre. I became addicted to that beat, and learned it was the creation of a single, inimitable drummer by the name of Earl Young.

    The sound of brotherly love

    As I was mostly into the longer 12" singles, I wasn't always aware of the musicians credits. Even on albums, you could not always know who was playing what. So I went searching for more by ear, label, producer. It seemed a bulk of that sound was coming from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records (PIR) and hence got nicknamed the Philly Sound. Confusingly though, it was appearing on other labels from other places: Salsoul, Atlantic, Motown, SAM and a quite few others. Whenever I could find recording credits, the people involved could invariably be traced back to the city of brotherly love: Philadelphia.

    Joining the dots

    It turned out each of my favourite sounds had a specific musician behind it: when Earl Young was on drums, Norman Harris and Bobby Eli were typically there playing guitar. The trademark basslines, locked with the drums were always the work of one Ronnie Baker. Ron (Have Mercy) Kersey was the man sucking the life out of the Fender Rhodes leaving the raspy organ to Lenny Pakula. On percussion Larry Washington was scorching the congas. while a suave Vince Montana Jnr caressed the Vibes. The finally cherry on a delicious pie, Don Renaldo helmed the string and horn sections. Last but not least they were all hailing from the same studio: Sigma sound, with the same Joe Tarsia as owner and engineer in chief. It almost didn't matter who the artist was, the producer, or what label it was on, as long as that team was there, it had the Philly Sound and the magic was happening.

    Born to be alive

    From the early to late '70s, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the O'Jays, Eddie Kendricks, Loleatta Holloway, Ritchie Family and many others had their music recorded with some part of that dream team, the Sigma sound rhythm section. The sound that evolved from The Love I lost became a genre of its own: Disco was born, and they were at its forefront. Unlike the much talked about Funk Brothers, Motown's rhythm core they still did not get the credit they deserve. While their Motown cousins eventually got some light to shine on them, the Sigma team still stood in the shadows of the labels they helped reach success.

    Men make history, history makes men

    Typically the rhythm section would come in every morning to record their parts. From a basic chord grid they would play a song over and over, working out the structure, the fills, the breaks, thus arranging it until they felt it was ready to hit "Record". WIth the tape rolling they would play through the different sections of the song until the end vamp. But then, instead of stopping they kept on playing. And no one would dare to stop recording until they did. The musicians were just jamming out of pure enjoyment. They had secured the album part of the song and could let themselves loose. Those carefree moments were magic to the happy few who could hear them. Few, because the songs were usually faded out after 3 minutes no matter what was on the tape.

    Longer is better

    One trademark of the Philly Disco Sound as I and many got to love, is the long instrumental sections. That might not have been without the input of one person that loved music so much, he devoted his life to give the people more of it: Tom Moulton. Recognised as one of the first remixers, he would extend a song to make it more exciting. He fell so in love with Sigma Sound's musical output, that he made it his second home by simply booking a studio there four days a week for twelve years straight !

    As he was witnessing the extraordinary musicianship there he knew the world had to hear it. Thanks to him the Philadelphia Classics album came to life. In 1977 It was the first remix album of its kind where Tom got to cherry pick songs from the PIR catalog and extended them to eight minute plus epics, lifting the veil off the unheard takes. In the process he shared his love and dedication to great music with many others including myself. When the unwritten rule was to make every song short for impact, he unwound it into a long romantic symphony, a rollercoaster ride of peaks and lows, bringing the rhythm section to the forefront and creating a pattern still followed by many remixers after.

    A Tom Moulton Mix

    Tom Moulton is the reason why I did this compilation. His contribution to the music as well as my meeting with him not only is invaluable but was a true revelation. He helped me connect the dots between the music I like the most and it's origins. He helped me understand that what I thought was different was actually the same. The urge he always had to bring the unheard work of the musicians to the forefront is something I always felt too. And like he gave me more music, i want to give you more music.
    The songs featured in CD 1 are only a small and personal selection of what the Philly Sound is in it's most Disco era. Many are mixed by Tom Moulton, others he wished he did: He's a friend, Do it again, and one: The Love I lost he actually did remix in 1977. Ironically the tape was lost and has yet be found and released.
    The songs that I have reworked on CD 2, I did for the sole reason of getting me and you, more out of them. They were never given an official extended treatment and having been able to work on them is a great honour and my biggest achievement.

    And now, Get Down With THe Philly Sound !

    Find the CD and downloads here !

    Hear the Podcast there

    Some quotes:

    One of the great joys of life in this business is being able live vicariously through our heros and the champions that inspire us.
    When I got into the production side of the music business one of my dreams was to one day get into the Philadelphia International vaults and lose my mind, like a kid in a candy store. Dimitri is living that dream for me. While staying true to the essence of each song and it's original production, Dimitri has blown the dust off these classic choons and sonically brought them into the Millennium. Apart from being the soundtrack of my life, the sound, the songs the production says everything about what's at the heart of me musically.
    Thanks Dimi for the BRILLIANT job. There are so many folks that will thoroughly appreciate what you've done here My Friend, My Hero !
    Maximum Love & Infinite Respect Always,
    Frankie Knuckles

    Dimitri From Paris should have been Dimitri From Philadelphia" His heart and love for music always stems from there. This has been a dream of his to do a project that revolves around the music that has inspired him all these years. Dimitri has picked some of his favorite Philly tracks and they are here in there original form and he also has some of his Personal Favorites he remixed and some he has re-edited. A lot of passion went into this project and you will hear that when the needle hits the Vinyl and in May for the CD.
    Tom Moulton

    Get Down with Dimitri From Paris's Philly Sound!
    Dimitri's love & respect for the Philly Sound is Crystal clear here, & some of his best work!
    Danny Krivit

    What a great idea to revisit those classics in such a respectful and creative way!
    DJ Deep
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Forthcoming releases started by man_who_wasnt_there View original post
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