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Dance To The Best Of ESG


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Performer Notes
  • Short of a complete-discography box set, this two-disc collection is as comprehensive an ESG anthology as one could want. Of course, the seminal New York band's output is maddeningly scant to begin with, but it's all worth hearing. The U.K. label Soul Jazz had released two separate collections -- A South Bronx Story, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 -- containing most of what's on offer here, but not only does Dance to the Best of ESG contain everything from those volumes, it adds a few tracks Soul Jazz skipped over. This package was put together by the Fire label, which is also British-based, and it's ironic that such a quintessentially New York-sounding band as ESG should have to look overseas for the tending of its legacy, but `twas ever thus. Even though they were one of the cornerstone groups of Ed Bahlman's tiny but legendary New York post-punk label 99 Records, they recorded their self-titled milestone debut EP (including the staples "Moody," "UFO," and "You're No Good") across the pond, with famed Manchester producer Martin Hannett. Of course, those tracks are all included here, exemplifying the minimalist playground-funk sound that fit so well into the emerging post-punk aesthetic of the time and onto the turntables of hip underground New York discos like the Paradise Garage. Countless hip-hop artists would eventually sample ESG's simple but visceral grooves, often without compensating the source (ESG later released a record pointedly titled Sample Credits Don't Pay Our Bills). When the post-punk/punk-funk approach ESG pioneered (alongside 99 labelmates Liquid Liquid and Brits like Gang of Four and the Pop Group) started undergoing a revival in the late `90s, scores of new bands began copping that seminal sound. With interest in the band at a peak, ESG eventually returned to active duty. They released two great albums on Soul Jazz in the 2000s, but there's hardly anything from those on either Dance to the Best of ESG or the Soul Jazz collections. Beyond that omission, though, there's not much left wanting on this extremely thorough expedition into the ESG archives. ~ J. Allen
Professional Reviews
Clash (magazine) - "Bursting at the seams with complex rhythms, pulsating beats and oh so funky bass lines..."

Record Collector (magazine) (p.77) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he music sounds timelessly unique as ever..."

Uncut (magazine) (p.86) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[They] made a skeletal fusion of Latin-funk and hypnotic post-punk that would be sampled by dozens of hip hop producers and influence a generation of musicians."
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