The Definitive Salsoul Mixes ‘78-‘83 album cover
The Definitive Salsoul Mixes ‘78-‘83

Various Artists , Larry Levan

1978 - 1983
Suss'd Records

Walter Gibbons and Tom Moulton might’ve helped establish and popularize the 12" single and the extended remix, but when it came to Salsoul’s go-to DJs, nobody flipped their hits quite like Larry Levan. The don of the Paradise Garage had a thing for the label’s sides — legends abound of his DJ setlists taking Salsoul cuts by First Choice or Inner Life and turning them into half-hour long epic journeys at his hands — and this hard-to-find but well-worth seeking out compilation is the best possible collection of the mixes that transmitted those dynamics onto wax. As someone who treated disco like the R&B-steeped movement it really was, he had an unmatched ability to wring constant yet unpredictable momentum out of dancefloor anthems from Salsoul Orchestra’s “How High” (which he tweaks to give it a subtly dubby bass boost) to Loleatta Holloway’s “The Greatest Performance of My Life” (which he strips to its percussive foundations, only to rebuild a cathedral around her powerful high-drama vocals). But some of his best work came well after disco had been declared dead, and he works magic with the neon-in-the-sunshine midtempo boogie-funk — Logg’s “I Know You Will,” Steve Arrington’s “Summertime Lovin’,” Jimmy Castor’s 1983 re-recording of his hip-hop breaker classic “It’s Just Begun” — that would sustain Salsoul throughout the early ’80s. The comp closes on Inner Life’s slow-glide post-disco comedown “Make It Last Forever” — a sentiment he answers by stretching it to 13 gloriously languid minutes that feel like they’ve earned another 20.

Nate Patrin

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