Larry Levan Genius Of Time Universal
It’s safe to say that club culture would not be what it is today without the exploits of Larry Levan. Starting out alongside Frankie Knuckles in the early 70s, he went on to pioneer the whole notion of DJing, through his mythologised residency at Paradise Garage during the height of disco in 1977.
In 2016, what’s most notable about these edits is how tremendously DJ-friendly they are. Certainly, Levan would have spent many years pitch-riding unquantised tracks, but evidently, this became tiresome, leading him to prefer the rank-and-file kick drums that became more popular in the 80s.
The tracklist showcases less of the sounds of 70s disco – acoustic drums, horn sections, strings – and leans harder on the early 80s, just as the old instrumentation started blending with the computer sounds of the decade. This is indicative of Levan’s shakey start to Paradise Garage, which due to a lot of technical problems early on, took a few years creeping into the 80s for the club to rally a dedicated audience. Levan’s edits of tracks like Groovin’ On With You are drenched in a hyper-80s palette which occasionally becomes tired, only to be satisfyingly refreshed with the gorgeous guitar jams on Gwen Guhtrie’s It Should Have Been You and the big pianos of Tell You by Loose Joints.
This compilation is a DJ’s dream; none fall below the dreaded five minute mark, and the wide breadth of tempo and groove means a high utility rate throughout the album; be it the UK “12 version of Grace Jones’ Feel Up – a broken-but-groovy slow burner – or the likes of Can’t Shake Your Love and First True Love Affair – pure high-tempo disco rocket fuel.
Genius Of Time brings the listener somewhat closer to envisioning the crucial beginnings of New York’s club land. Far from a paradise in reality perhaps, but with Larry Levan at the helm, you can imagine it might have sounded like it.