Screamin’ Rachael ‘Screamin’ Rachael Queen of House’

Screamin’ Rachael / Screamin’ Rachael Queen of House
Digital / CD
TRAX Records / Released August 2013

Despite the title of this retrospective compilation, and the fact its subject-artist is widely regarded as Chicago’s beloved First Lady of Four Fours, not everything on here is what you’d call ‘house’ per se. And all the better for it.

Whilst we’ve often written about the ‘educational’ qualities of archive releases such as this, arguably Screamin’ Rachael’s collection is one of the only instances in which comparisons to courses and academe genuinely make sense. An outing for the real purists, who understand dance music’s reliance on every other style of sound in order to exist, progress, and push forward; the tracks making up this outing veer from lo-fi blues to garage rock, piano house to hypnotic accapellas and pioneering acid beats (with Extacy a fine example of the latter).

Remarkably there’s no difference in the standard of the canons represented, either. So Fantasy is a classic cut of vocal, disco-infused club stuff, just as Bad Influence is an essential no-frills neo-punk piece par excellence, invoking images of early-Blondie, whereas the bizarre spoken word interlude, My Life As An Adventures, comes off as an engaging poem born of underground artistic counter cultures, rather than simple self-indulgence.

With such startling variation in the work showcased it goes without saying that Rachael has an ear for innumerable sonic variations, and as such her current job at the legendary Windy City imprint TRAX makes perfect sense. With pop-dance anthems such Hello Kitty, and the Madonna-esque Sex Mix of The Real Thing sitting alongside gritty, artists living in a squat together guitar raucousness, with the exception of a handful of names that have contributed to series like DJ Kicks, Another Late Night, and Back To Mine, very few faces within the electronic scene could profess to have such wholesale knowledge of music overall, or if they do then fail to exhibit anything other than synth-produced fare. In short then, an essential package the likes of which we would appreciate a lot more often.