November 25, 2014
Established in 1989 by businessman Mark Finkelstein and A&R Gladys Pizarro, this is possibly the most influential NY (and arguably American) house label of all time. In its heyday (c. ’90 – ’94) Strictly delivered the underground goodies (check out 5 choice cuts below) but also credible international smash hits like Ultra Nate ‘Free’, Josh Wink ‘Higher State Of Consciousness’ and Reel To Real ‘I Like To Move It’. In what must be the largest house label back-catalogue that exists, one crucial flaw was pushing quantity over quality – for every gem of a record there’s a huge supply of disappointing releases surrounding it. Nonetheless without this giant label, the NY house sound would have certainly taken a different route. It’s hard to narrow down the five best Strictly releases but here are some of the underground classics (note that they’re all early 90s) that have stood the test of time.
Pretty hard to avoid this one, its influence was and is massive. The handiwork of MAW, the title track on this record pretty much garnered a cult-following the moment it was pressed and probably will always rock dance floors. Barbara Tucker supplies the vocals in the one of many collaborations with Kenny Dope and Louie Vega.
Tribal Confusion / Unification
Josh Wink and King Brint hide behind this one-off alias to give us this timeless tribal release on Strictly. Ethnopolitics the order of the day, in some places addressed by sampling Jesse Jackson and in others with rapping courtesy of Kris-D.
The Underground Solution
You’ll recongise the vocal – it’s snapped up from Loose Joints (Arthur Russell) ‘Is It All Over My Face’, another slice of NYC dance history. Roger Sanchez expertly knocks together a super atmospheric cut with the ‘In Deep Mix’ that reaches its zenith with that flute line.
The Difference / I Got Somethin’
The Logic crew – Eddie Maduro, Roger Sanchez, Vivian Sessoms and Wayne Gardiner – teamed up to drop a string of Strictly releases, but this record and The Warning / The Final Frontier are the pick of the litter.
Waterfalls / Feel It
Andrew “Rags” Richardson with a bit of help from Roger S works this mellow, sophisticated Afterhours EP. With three compelling versions of ‘Waterfalls’ and three takes on ‘Feel It’ to match, it’s definitely a contender for best Strictly record ever…