Various Artists – Italo House Compiled by Joey Negro – Z Records

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Title: Italo House Compiled By Joey Negro
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Joey Negro’s latest compilation follows on from his recent winning selection, Remixed With Love. With his wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for crate-digging it’s understandable that Italo House is getting his preferential treatment this time, with over 20 tracks covering the genres late-1980’s and early-90’s heyday. From deeper classics to lesser known gems that perhaps didn’t get the commercial appreciation they deserved first time round, it showcases an era of tracks that saw a mingling of music from Chicago and New York, but also England, combining to create something original in the dance scene.

Starting off the collection with the hazy, Windy City-leaning Alone from Don Carlos (in its ‘Paradise Version’), as you may expect, plenty of piano-soaked party peakers are here, perhaps too many to mention, but the overall vibe is a heady mixture of largely uplifting vocal house alongside a strong underlying set of tracks demonstrating the more underground side to the sound. Personal stand-outs would include the Atmosphere Mix of Nexy Lanton’s You Too, thanks to its Bobby McFerrinstyle scat-singing, and Key Tronics Ensemble’s House of Calypsowhich has the harder, metallic edges of it’s rattling 808s softened by hugely entertaining key riffing. Jestofunk’s I’m Gonna Love You slaps on the chugging funk, stabby synth and sax solos in a satisfying manner, too, and both CDs round things off with slightly dreamier tips; Mr Marvin’s Entity (Jazzy) has a real tranquil feel to it while Carol Bailey’s Understand Me (or at least the Dreams Piano Remix) is a great way to finish off the whole release.

With such a wealth of material there’s not much to dislike here, and the compilation should interest anyone with even just a passing interest in the overall House music scene. Still relevant today, what with many current producers clearly influenced directly or indirectly by this particular sub-canon, ultimately although it does work as a musical history lesson it’s far more significant read in a more straight up light- a collection of satisfying, entertaining house music, albeit anyone who has a problem with pianos can probably pass this one by without much regret.