Various Artists

These Various Artists compilations have so far all come from a similar time frame and this one is right in there, the Junior Boys Own Collection from 1994, a round up of singles released on JBO between 1991 and 1994. Heller and Farley appear twice in their Fire Island guise (Fire Island, off Long Island , New York is and was legendary for its gay scene and clubs) and also as Roach Motel. Underworld contribute three songs under two names (Lemon Interrupt and Underworld) and pre-Chemicals Ed and Tom showcase the monstrous Song To the Siren and X-Press 2 are represented by two pieces of essential early 90s house.

This compilation is pretty ubiquitous in 1994, a good round up of a label with its finger near the pulse. All these tracks could be heard in Manchester’s clubs- not always the same club but somewhere between the Hacienda, Home, the gay village and various other darkened rooms these tunes would never be far away. There But For The Grace Of God is Fire Island’s disco house, a 1979 disco-funk classic from machine updated by Farley and Heller, camp as fluffy bras, crop tops and silver trousers.

There But For The Grace Of God

Rez is one of the greatest records of that period. Or any period. Beyond sheer brilliance, it is in some ways a full stop. The ever circling squiggles, the hi-hats and snare, the rush of the chords, all seem to say ‘where else can you go after this?’

Rez

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Boy’s Own Stuff

Compilation albums are ace- I don’t mean a single band’s Greatest Hits or Best Of (although they can be ace too) but compilations of a theme, time period, genre or record label- and cd suits this type of compilation perfectly. You get one disc of 80 minutes worth of music pulling together a range of releases that together make some kind of thematic sense and that soundtrack a time, place, mood, whatever.  Recently I’ve been listening to the pair of Junior Boy’s Own Collection comps- the first one mainly, the one with the mock cigarette cards cover, the second one less so (the one done to look like The Eagle comic). I’ve had the first one on vinyl for years but found both on cd in a charity shop last week for a pound each and couldn’t help myself. The first one has eleven early 90s dance tracks all of which have merit. Some are bona fide classics- Lemon Interrupt’s harmonica-house epic Bigmouth, X Press 2 (appearing twice), Underworld’s definitive pairing of Dirty Guitar and Rez (their best song? I think so), The Dust Brothers’ Song To The Siren. The others have aged well, much better than I’d expected- Farley and Heller’s Fire Island project (two songs including Paradise Factory anthem There But For The Grace Of God), Roach Motel’s Movin’ On, 3rd Eye and Outrage. This JBO compilation is a document of a time and place, or several places, and of ephemeral music, made quickly to be played in clubs to make people dance, but has actually stood the test of time. So, picking one at random, let’s have X-Press 2 (Rocky, Diesel and Ashley Beedle) with some four to the floor action.

London X-Press