DJ Tony Moran
DJ David DePino
Most benefit dance CDs are nothing but fast-paced noise dumped into 70-minute dustbins. Oh sure, it's for a good cause, but it's not usually clear how much of each purchase will be donated. And with thousands of CDs competing for your dollars, it seems more lucrative to donate money directly to the intended charitable recipients.
But record labels churn them out anyway, for feel-good effect. Hotlanta benefits Atlanta AIDS organizations -- presumably. Proceeds from other CDs in Centaur's Party Groove collections have gone to charity, but Hotlanta doesn't actually say it benefits charity, only that the Hotlanta River Expo circuit party does. Regardless, Hotlanta isn't up to the standard Tony Moran set for himself with his first full mix CD, Global Groove: House, making him the toast of the summer. And while we might have hoped this new CD would make him the toast of fall, it instead marks a fall from grace. A battle between two songs kicks off the CD, "Summer Drummer vs. Love Is in The Music." I don't know who wins, but we lose, since two weak songs don't add up to one winner.
Smack dab in the middle is one of the only songs worth our time, the happy "Let's Get Together" by Regeneration. Produced by Moran, this number features a soothing serenade from a songstress who confidently hums her way through much of it, to our delight.
Another new CD, Dance for Life, benefits the music industry's AIDS efforts. Yes, the same benevolent music industry that has shown such compassion to its consumers by thwarting every demand-driven effort to change wants us to give it more money so it can be charitable. Well...here at least the independent dance label West End Records makes a compelling case, for this is a joy through and through -- and all proceeds go to LIFEbeat, the music charity.
Right from the start, we're on higher ground with this ebullient collection, mixed by pioneering house music DJ David DePino. "Thank You (Power of Love)" is nothing less than inspirational, with its vocal calls and organ-riff responses. The beat doesn't drop for a solid three minutes, or more than halfway into the song, but we don't miss it. This is classic-style house, all churchy, happy soul that makes you want to shout "Amen" with every shift in your seat and kick of your feet, as you let Marty Thomas's refreshing, silky vocals wash over you. Newcomer Thomas, who also blesses us here with "Resurrect Me (Lift Me Up)," sounds older than his 22 years and his warm tenor comes out sounding both male and female in blissful harmony. His chief distinction is defeating Britney (yes, her) as StarSearch's Junior Vocalist Champion 10 years ago. She may now have the fame, but he's got the glory, and the pipes for both.
The year's most uproarious song has got to be "Another Man." It's remixed by Junior Vasquez, but the story and its delivery is what sells it. Singer Barbara Mason tells a familiar tale of her cheatin' man in an unfamiliar way: "I had gone out one day and bought me a vurry, VUR-ry sexy dress and opened up my closet and [it] had disappeared. Lord I hope the man isn't wearin' my…" "Uh, child," interrupts the chorus. She continues, "In my case what I thought I had was not a whole entire man but a facsimile thereof. He wasn't a clone or nuthin, ya know." Yeah we know. "Another man is lovin' mine." Hmm-hmm-hmm. Ain't that just the story of our vurry, VUR-ry gay lives.