Unless you're a hardened Discogs nerd, Nu Groove may not be a name you're instantly familiar with. Based in New York the imprint only existed from 1988-'92, but for a brief moment in time it was arguably the greatest house label in the world. The output was both prolific and unpredictably wide-ranging, from ravey acid breaks to honeyed US garage. Kenny Dope, Joey Beltram and Joey Negro all put in work for the label but it was two brothers, Rheji and Ronald Burrell, that drove the majority of Nu Groove's output, using their experience as R&B producers to sew a soulful thread into their often remarkably raw deep house tracks. It was, and will always be, a label for the heads, enduring plenty of love from DJs and dance floors but few notable crossover hits.
Old school house fans will probably be recoiling at the thought of a Nu Groove remix compilation: why mess with a great thing? Fortunately, the folks at Needwant have employed Nicholas for the Nu Groove remix project: an Italian producer that, despite his newcomer status, is hugely sensitive to the roots of the label.
Nicholas has been working up a competent discography of house and disco productions for labels such as Lux and On The Prowl. However, it's his live set that indicates best why Needwant have handed over such a weighty project to a relative unknown. Peppered with re-edits of hard to find '90s house and dusty obscurities, they paint Nicholas as a connoisseur of NYC boom-tiss.
It's turned out to be an inspired piece of talent spotting. Nicholas' remixes complement the source material tactfully, retaining much of the vibe that made early house music so appealing. The best thing about these remixes is that they sound old, but manage to do so without sounding dated—a balance that's all too easy to get wrong.
Take his rework of N.Y. House'n Authority "Apt1A," which fuses tiny elements of the original with Kerri Chandler-style keys and meaty bass that could have been ripped straight from a Bobby Konders track. All throughout the album it feels as if Nicholas is grabbing all the best bits from legendary New York house producers and pasting them together. On his version of Houz' Neegroz "How Do You Love a Black Woman?" Nicholas drops the tempo, adds a jacking drum pattern and turns up the volume on the keyboard to create something that manages to feel even more housey than the original. Not bad, considering "How Do You Love a Black Woman?" is a stone cold classic.
The music on Back On Track sounds so authentically rooted in '90s house music that it's tough to believe Nicholas is only in his mid twenties. It's even more tough to believe that he's managed to draw from such a well-known and over-plundered period of music and delivered something that doesn't sound clichéd. It's rare that a remix album of classic tracks ever matches up to the quality of the source material. In this case, Nicholas has gone one step further and surpassed it.
Buy Nicholas - Back on Track: Nu Groove at
Tracklist: Nicholas - Back on Track: Nu Groove 01. Lisa Lee - When Can I Call You (Nicholas Dirty Dub Remix)
02. Bas Noir - I'm Glad You Came To Me (Nicholas Garage Dub Mix)
03. N.Y. House'n Authority - Apt1A (Nicholas Witness Remix)
04. Emjay - Come 'N Get It (Nicholas Vocal Remix)
05. Tech Trax Inc. - Tech Trax Inc. (Nicholas House Keys Remix)
06. K.A.T.O - The Booty Dance (Nicholas Raw Interpretation)
07. Roqui - I've Just Begun To Love You (Nicholas Love Re-Edit)
08. Basil Hardhaus 2 feat. Burrell - Black Man (Nicholas Black & Proud Mix)
09. Equation - Domm Domm, Yeah, mm hmm (Nicholas Basement Remix)
10. Roqui - Set Me Free (Nicholas Vocal Remix)
11. Houz' Neegroz - How Do You Love A Black Woman? (Nicholas Fierce Beats Remix)
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