Pal Joey (aka Joseph Longo) came up in the heady days of New York street culture, amidst B-boying, boom boxes and an unusually entrepreneurial spirit of beat-making. Beginning with crude “pause tapes,” he was soon making tracks with drum machines and sampled vocals, all painstakingly assembled with razors and reel-to-reel. Working at Vinylmania, where Larry Levan might be found shopping for records in his pajamas, helped Joey’s entrance into the city’s nascent house music scene, and he was soon working with everyone from KRS-One to Sade to the Orb, whose “Little Fluffy Clouds” he tweaked for stateside tastes. True to his city’s inclusive spirit, Pal Joey consistently blurs the lines between disco, house and hip-hop, dropping scraps of old soul and recent rap alike over his skipping drum patterns and head-nodding keyboard lines. Joey’s records (under his principal moniker and also aliases like Earth People and Soho) have appeared on Jive, Epic, Talkin’ Loud, Wave and Coco Machete. He also has run three labels of his own – Loop D’Loop, Cabaret and Footstompin’ Records.

This twelve, Underground Classic ‘Soho’ and ‘Earth People’ which incidentally is a house classic was pressed onto vinyl in the late 80s and to this day is still jaw droppingly elegant by any account.

Soho Hot Music Jazz Mix kicks of proceedings with a simple three key piano chord and jazz influenced drums and percussion.  Sounding so raw from the first time I heard it years ago in a Kenny dope mixtape.  As the track builds and glides the vocal chants swirl and mingle around the clarinet solo, ‘Hot’ ‘Music’ ‘Jump’ are the three chants that keep you grooving around all the other instruments!!! Deep as you can handle and hot like hell, timeless.

On the flip comes Earth People and everybody will recognise this signature Pal Joey production with catchy rifts, nice keys, smooth melody, and warm percussion. The amount of detail is paramount and always inviting on repeat listen and as you free mind the vocal very loosely sung ’Dance’ keeps you smiling just a little bit longer. To be honest with vinyl like this still out there available to buy I need not worry about digital music.

The secret third track is a bit more heady and I do have it on a classic Shelter Mix Cd, with repeat trumpets and percussion raising the temperature a little. The added hand claps keep the track going which feeds as a great tool for good djs.

Overall as we enter a new year I feel the incessant need to keep addressing, looking and analysing our former years and music is a great testament to that. Pal Joey still inspires to this day and can be heard in arenas around NYC and most certainly in modern spaces in Berlin. Compared to more modern recent releases a lot of music does not boast of the charm, modesty, character, energy, life, soul, age, maturity, sincerity and a whole lot more in my opinion. This music oozes energy and a lot of other Pal Joey releases are standard test of time classics,  all I can suggest is purchase some 12s from an independent record store and make up your own mind up.



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