The Detroit DJ pays tribute to a cherished nightclub.
The recording starts in the night's early stages. We hear Parrish playing Hanna's "Prayin'," and the ambient mic picks up a man laughing, then a woman cheering. What follows is four hours of Parrish in full flow. The first of three discs is mostly house and disco, reaching a high point as Danny Krivit's re-edit of "Let's Lovedance Tonight" comes through the speakers. (At one point you can hear people singing along to the instrumental melody.) A couple of tracks later, on Logg's "(You've Got) That Something," you can hear Parrish starting to get busy on the EQs.
The second disc is vintage Parrish. Volcov's excellent edit of "Destination" by The Warriors is followed soon after by the Fela Kuti and Afrika 70 classic "Zombie," a tune that gets one of the night's biggest cheers. We then embark on a run of roots reggae, freaky jazz and uplifting soul, emerging on the other side with the sweaty funk of James Brown's "Body Heat." It's in this section we're reminded of just how incredible a DJ Parrish is at his best. He's a true connoisseur who plays expertly with energy levels across long sets.
In the final stretch of the night, Parrish plays two consecutive Sade tunes, blending into "Give It Up" from the applause at the end of the live instrumental version of "Keep Hanging On." On "Give It Up," the record skips a little. Earlier, there's a slightly bungled transition out of Pleasure's "Take A Chance." These blemishes, rather than detracting from the experience, bring it to life. In this final stretch he also airs Donald Byrd's "Lansana's Priestess," a track he's been jamming for at least 20 years (he also sampled it). The way Parrish plays it, "Lansana's Priestess" has the power of a slamming house tune.
Does Parrish's DJing style translate well outside the club? Not always. Some of the visceral impact of his filtering is bound to be lost outside a live setting, so the listening experience is closer to hearing the set from the bar at Plastic People, away from the heat of the dance floor. It's not certain if Parrish had any inkling at the time that this would be his last set at Plastic People, but Thanks To Plastic captures the spirit of his residency, with a musical freedom that provided joy and inspiration during his tenure at that special basement on Curtain Road.