It’s fair to say Glitterbox has sparkled over the past 12 months or so. Last season in Ibiza the unique night transferred to Friday nights at Space and now, at the end of another hectic season, can consider itself an exciting new slice of Balearic musical history. And on the basis of a sublime July summer show at Ministry Of Sound – and another taking place Saturday 12 December – you can expect further advances across the global dancefloor in the coming months.
As has been echoed repeatedly by media, DJs and revellers alike, Glitterbox’s cut-through is down to its classic fusion of house, tech, soul and disco. Distilling the free spirit roots of Ibiza’s musical past into a stylish, contemporary club framework is not easily managed or even attempted in the first place. In clashing old with new, and glamorously embracing all dance lovers from all backgrounds, Glitterbox has quickly established a bold and bright new Ibiza community – one attuned to sexual and aesthetic, as well as aural release, and already building a groundswell of momentum towards summer 2016.
The key to Glitterbox’s success has undoubtedly been its music policy. Eclectic yet accessible, it’s a tricky proposition to sum up its recipe for success. To help you on your way, here are 12 fondly rewound Glitterbox anthems – tracks that well reflect the party’s vibe.
The Strikers - Body Music
Whilst ‘Body Music’ made a significant splash for pivotal indie-disco label Prelude it actually started out on lesser-known Cesaree Recordings, backed by second cut ‘Feel Free’. ‘Body Music’ was written by Carlton Maestro and Willie Phillips; the former also producing. In Prelude’s hands, however, both Larry Levan and Francois Kevorkian would provide the crucial mix down, fine-tuning The Strikers’ classic mirrorball flow to delirious dancefloor effect. ‘Body Music’ sizzles across everything from Stardust-style looped guitar riffs and rippling piano lines to snaky bass guitar and chant-happy vocals. Upon official release it reached the Billboard R&B Top 30, and stormed global discotheques. Today, the track can be viewed alongside follow-up singles ‘Inch By Inch’ and ‘Contagious’ as a classic moment in the evolution of modern club culture.
S.O.S. Band - Take Your Time (Do It Right)
Atlanta electro R&B crew S.O.S Band didn’t like ‘Take Your Time’ initially – in fact they hated it. Even Tabu Records chief Clarence Avant was uncertain of the disco angle conjured by producer Sigidi Abdallah who he’d assigned to the outfit (alongside writer Harold Clayton) upon signing them – Avant felt that the disco boom was over. Abdallah argued that a good song was a good song and, thankfully, had his way. Built upon boogie-ful, guitar-jangling swagger, and those catchy vocal hooks (courtesy of Mary Davis), ‘Take Your Time’ topped the Billboard R&B charts and stayed there for five weeks, whilst additionally reaching number three in the Billboard Pop charts. The single was certified platinum and went on to sell 2 million records worldwide.
Lucy Pearl – Don’t Mess With My Man (Mood II Swing Main Vocal Mix)
This was Yank R&B trio Lucy Pearl’s biggest ever single, taken from their debut self-titled album and hitting number 20 in the UK Singles Chart, as well as notable positions in France and several other European countries. Bundled with superior remixes via Mood II Swing, it was also primed nicely for Europe’s burgeoning house market, helping cement its momentum. Mood II Swing offered a cool electro-soul version but it was their tasteful house mix earning all the plaudits, swinging 4-4, warm pads and stabby keys complimenting Pearl’s original melodic flow to utter perfection. Don’t mess….
Carol Williams – Love Is You
A huge club hit lovingly served (as opener) on Williams’ Vincent Montana Jr-produced debut album ‘Lectric Lady. Co-written by Montana Jr’s close Philly friend Ronnie Walker, ‘Love Is You’ is still, today, regarded as one of the Salsoul era’s defining moments. Bearing many of the same stylistic hallmarks as MFSB’s fellow Salsoul classic ‘Love Is The Message’, Williams’ song swept and grooved along with spine-tingling grandeur and secured sustained international praise. No wonder Spiller revisited it in 1999 for modern dance smash ‘Groove Jet’– the original’s magic was still plain to hear and promptly lifted the cut (later updated with vocals from Sophie Ellis Bextor) to chart success all over the world.
David Joseph – You Can’t Hide (Your Love From Me)’
Formerly a founder member of Brit-funk pioneers Hi-Tension, Joseph went solo in the early Eighties and enjoyed considerable success with this 1983 electronic-soul lick. ‘You Can’t Hide’ was self-penned but produced by Godwin Logie with a mixdown by Larry Levan (supported by Francois Kevorkian). The quirky squelch of its backing is unmistakable, transporting Joseph’s infectious falsetto vocals and refrains in suitably free ‘n’ funky style. Interestingly, back in the day Glitterbox guest Greg Wilson cut between two copies of the record live on cult music TV show The Tube. It was the first ever live DJ mix on British TV, presenter Jools Holland required to ask Wilson what ‘turntables’ were. The appearance helped push the single into the national Top 20, and beyond. ‘You Can’t Hide’ effectively encapsulated clubland’s shift from disco to proto-house and therefore, in today’s genre-blurring climate, continues to feel so, so right – not least at Glitterbox….
Black Ivory – I’ve Got My Eye On You
‘I’ve Got My Eye On You’ came towards the end of Black Ivory’s career peak, but with an almighty bang. The muscular synthesized bass and extended drum rolls of Tony Humphries and George Rodriquez’ remix added definite spice to the Harlem group’s impassioned R&B. Previously, Black Ivory had featured weighty disco songwriter-producer Leroy Burgess and been managed by the similarly weighty Patrick Adams; nevertheless, ‘I’ve Got My Eye On You’ represented groove as strong as anything in their repertoire.
Blondie – Rapture
New Wave pop pioneers Blondie, helmed by singer Deborah Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, were never more innovative than on ‘Rapture’. The single was notable as the first chart-topping pop song to include a rap, drawing further attention to a post-disco underground club scene finding new ways to express itself. Harry and Stein were regulars at New York’s early block parties, and firmly supported the emerging breaks ‘n’ hip-hop scene. Upon meeting them, influential hip-hop promoter Fab 5 Freddy suggested Blondie write a song about his Fabulous 5 crew. They did, referencing Freddy within Rapture’s iconic extended rap sequence. He and his crew loved the early demo, prompting a full recording and one of Blondie’s biggest ever hits. ‘Rapture’ charted highly all over the world, including top spots in both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Dance Club Play countdowns. Its languid, edgy mix of disco, funk, punk and rap has ensured its iconic status for over 30 years now, and epitomises the glamorous, ‘anything goes’ spirit of Glitterbox to an absolute tee.
Salsoul Orchestra – Time Out For Love
One of Salsoul’s final spell-binding hurrahs, complimenting the output of other Salsoul acts Skyy, The Strangers and Arru in moving away from disco towards the increasingly popular sound of electro-edged boogie. That said Jocelyn Brown’s peerless vocals glide as much upon pert mid-tempo bass warbles and electronica as lush, orchestral strings and flutes. This Tom Moulton-mixed blend grabs like an XXX-strength Colombian espresso.
Norma Jean – Saturday
Gallic maestro Dimitri From Paris turned out these expressive remixes for a digital-only EP included within Nile Rodgers’ Chic Organisation Vol 1 box-set – a comprehensive round-up of tracks, remixes and out-takes related to the disco-funk legends and their wider production family. Norma Jean Wright first recorded Saturday in 1978, hot on the heels of leaving Chic as lead vocalist. Her jump from the highs of Chic’s eponymous debut album to solid solo success was impressive. ‘Saturday’, produced by Rodgers and regular compadre Bernard Edwards, secured commercial and critical acclaim. Dimitri’s updates are a masterclass in 21st century disco restoration, allowing those vintage vocals and melodies to fully breathe within an extended arrangement of drums, vibes and breakdowns – epic without distraction.
Starpoint – I Want You – You Want Me (Def House Remix)
David Morales knocks it out of the park with this take on Eighties Maryland R&B sextet Starpoint. Quite aside to his throbbing ‘Red Zone’ rub the ‘Def House’ remix broadcasts the original’s velvety smooth soul in ultra HD. Diggs’ vocals, and the main song parts themselves, sound more impactful when driven by a string of slick Def Mix beats, trademark stab-piano riffs and jazzy solos. It’s dancefloor soul of the highest quality. ‘I Want You’ was to be one of Starpoint’s final utterances ahead of dissolution in the same year – 1991. But one extremely hard to forget….
Loleatta Holloway – Dreamin’ (Jazz N Groove Club Mix)
Holloway originally released ‘Dreamin’’ in 1976, a giddy outpouring of Salsoul feeling right up there with her more widely cited hits ‘Runaway’ and ‘Love Sensation’. Produced by ‘go to’ Philly arranger Norman Harris, the track would properly launch Holloway as a disco diva – in due course, 18 of her songs would make Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart, four of them number ones. All of which was fertile ground for top US house duo Jazz N Groove (AKA Marc Pomeroy and Traxsource co-founder Brian Tappert) to apply a little remix gold dust some 24 years later. Jazz N Groove’s remix of ‘Dreamin’’ is an absolute blast, looping elegant snatches of the original under a tour de force re-arrangement of Holloway’s special vocals; not to forget those blistering dance beats and dramatic, filtered breakdowns. Timelessly feel-good, and guaranteed to raise roofs.
Octave One feat. Ann Saunderson – Black Water
Pedestal-worthy techno from one of the key alliances within Detroit’s ‘second wave’, ‘Black Water’ quickly won hearts and minds across the global club spectrum upon release – its unique chord progressions and heavenly string parts transcending all known dancefloor genres. Brothers Lenny and Lawrence Burden, the beating heart of Octave One, released ‘Black Water’ through their own label knowing that it was incomplete – they had wanted to add a vocal, but limited resources prevented them from doing so. It was still, however, a remarkable production; its crisp, uplifting soulfulness sparking furious sales and an opportunity, two years later, for the Burdens (also including one of their three younger siblings, Lynell) to revisit and upgrade. ‘Black Water’ was re-recorded with live strings via London’s Urban Soul Orchestra and the towering vocals of Ann Saunderson, and for once sounded even better as a re-release. Its appeal exploded globally and continues to reverberate now, ‘Black Water’ convincingly installed one of clubland’s all-time essential anthems….
Glitterbox brings the party to Ministry of Sound, London on Saturday 12 December – full line-up and tickets