Friday, 24 September 2010
Party People Unreal
People's Potential Unlimited. Where to start? Well, it's a record label thats the brainchild of Andrew Morgan, owner of the Earcave record store based in Washington that sells music online (www.earcave.com) Of course it's not just any music, often it's quite obscure funk, soul and disco from back in the day. It started in 2007 when Andrew was working with Wilbert Harris (of TMS), trying to souce more copies of a 45" by the group TMS - none could be found so they chose to reissue it and People's Potential Unlimited (PPU) was born.
I came across the label as I was fiending after rare disco shizzle and was following up some leads relating to Ebony Cuts, a now defunkt radio show run by Gloria and Cubeism, disco nerds of the highest order. Their archives are still online, to be found at www.ebonycuts.com - so I came across this little 45" called Be You by Henri Rich with an edit on the B-side by Cubeism and I thought I should check it out. I gave it a listen, but didn't really get down with it - the same way I couldn't get down with the "Le Cop" - Le Roc/Law and Order. Both supposed to be sought after, rare, valuable and above all really good disco plates, but no matter how much I tried to persuade myself it was still a no... (Of course the collector in me still picks up a copy "for the archives"). The Henri Rich was a new reissue on People's Potential Unlimited and although I wasn't down with "Be You", the label looked interesting, from the graphics, to Cubeism's involvement, to the reported calibre of the material released and lined up for release, and due to the type of people who were getting excited about it (the hardcore disco collector fraternity).
I gotta admit, I was kinda slow on the label at first and didn't pay it the attention it deserved. First off I discovered the Earcave website and started to marvel at some of the very expensive wonders I'd never heard of in record form - it was like an aladdin's cave to the uninitiated. I couldn't afford much (any) of what was on offer, until I saw a promo for a PPU release for sale. It sounded weird, clunky, percussive, electronic and was just the sort of thing I imagined a DJ hero of mine Walter Gibbons might be into. It was a PROMO and it was in my price range! The record was Crunch - Funky Beat/Cruise. That was it, I was addicted, slowly going through the PPU back catalogue, picking up all that had been released thus far. Often I dithered over a release, unsure if I actually liked it or if I was just being a completionist, such as with Sir Bentley - Street Shuffle which took me over a year of debating with myself before I bought it, and often, as with this tune I soon realised that those which I questioned often turned out to be those that I loved the most.
Anyway, please go to your local record store and buy PPU releases. You can also buy the vinyl online at http://ppu.bigcartel.com/ and don't worry, there's even a CD of these amazing records, the People's Potential Family Album there too for the non-believers!
Here's a selection of my highlights from the label:
Lovely 12" sounding just like a Prelude records 80's dub mix (funnily enough with Andrew knowing his shit, there's a dub mix on the B-side). It's side one that kills it with me though, plenty of room to breath, spacey, heavy heavy drum attacks, utterly familiar sounding, yet fresh even now. A one record party all to itself, massive!
Glass Pyramid Band - Country Cowboy
Wrong, just wrong, on so many levels. I can't stand records like this, from the way it starts, it just doesn't sound right, it's awkward, it sounds off-key. BUT, it makes me smile. It makes me sing along. It makes me wiggle my hips. It's totally got that WTF? factor. A Country Cowboy who turns it out, he turns the fuckin' city out!
This was the big one, Danger Zone blew up big time. Charting, getting spins from the In crowd, the blogs were all over it, the record shops loved it, it was a killer record. It sounded big, big horns, big vocals, house tempo, it ticked all the boxes. And yet it was another one I dithered over. In fact it wasn't until I picked up the Tri-Fire Vol 1 compilation that PPU put out that I heard this, the Danger Zone Demo. It was 1 min 18s. That was it. But what a ride! I seriously prefer this short demo to the full version, it's raw, it builds and it is soooo funky. Watch out for the Tri-Fire 45" coming soon...
Deep, hypnotic, repetitive semi-instrumental. Just some guys jamming, but really hard. It just works that bassline for what seems like hours, building, never letting go. B-side to "Tasty Tune", the septet performed locally from New York to Neptune City in the late 70s and recorded only one LP on JSR records entitled "Journey To The Shore". Widely unknown and hyper-collectible, these recordings fetch those 4 figures...
Utterly disco, this has everything, great, driving, tune, killer vocals (sounding wonky as hell - even Andrew says "It's ALL about the vocal"), mad pianos, breakdowns a plenty and that ubiquitous 'unclassics' factor. Newest addition to the PPU family, promo's out now, my new favourite!