Posts Tagged Britney Spears
I am LOVING this show. For all the wrong reasons.
I’m not a fan of the Idol franchise because it’s put in place a concrete, standardized checklist by which the general public believes singers should be judged. The idea, alone, that a vocalist should display versatility within a range of genres disqualifies the Billie Holidays and Neil Youngs of the world.
Before Idol, artists signed to labels existed in a reality parallel—but separate from—the rest of the world. Someone who ‘knew something about music’ had given the stamp of approval, pulled all the levers, and forevermore the glossy finish of album jackets and posters would seal that artist away, just out of fans’ reach. Talent was curated primarily by savvy executives like Clive Davis and Ahmet Ertegun, who certainly had a basic checklist for their signings (‘Can Sing,’ ‘Has A Look,’ ‘Has Presence Live.’) But, with a similar latitude that radio DJs had decades ago, one tastemaker’s gut instinct could play a large part in an artist’s destiny.
Today, with profits plunging and monster record labels merging to survive, indie labels have risen again to service niche markets while the majors pump out increasingly formulaic product. Those executives simply cannot afford to experiment, so clunky corporate procedure is de rigueur. I’m loving Bravo’s new reality series Platinum Hit because, perhaps for the first time, the curtain has been pulled back…the average music fan can get a relatively true-to-life view of the working parts inside the LA machine.
Appropriately, fallen singer-songwriter Jewel hosts. Her mis-step in 2003 with dance-pop single Intuition alienated her audience after her earthy image had been solidified with five ubiquitous alt-country radio singles. (We certainly saw under the hood of the industry for a moment there.)
The show is a competition in which 12 songwriters get thrown in rooms in various combinations to come up with hit songs…usually with a specific topic or genre, and sometimes for a specific artist. They work against the clock to deliver material to a panel of executives who then analyze the structure, melody, lyrics and chord changes to measure market potential.
This is exactly what goes on in Los Angeles.
I’m into this show because the corporate standardization of songwriting is in plain view. Heavyweight-songwriter-turned-reality-TV-judge Kara DioGuardi lobs constructive advice at the contestants, guiding them on how to get a green light from executives. Label-executive-turned-reality-TV-judge Keith Naftaly’s feedback often hinges on how well the song hits a market demographic. When in Episode 9 he told contestant Scotty Granger that he believes the lyrical content of his dance song is a little deep for high school kids, my eyes nearly rolled out of my head.
This is the type of ‘dumb-it-down’ thinking that permeates the industry. Scotty’s song was barely ‘deep’—in its narrative, we find out there’s just one day left on earth and everyone’s decided to dance all night. A bit dark, maybe, but hardly deep, and quite appropriate for the angst high school kids feel. Maybe this is why Britney Spears’ conceptually identical single ‘Until The World Ends,’ tore up the charts recently.
Regardless, kids, like anyone else, sense when they’re being talked down to, and this usually results in them finding a counter-culture that reflects their feelings more honestly. I remember a DJ friend pointing out to me that in the early 80s MTV was the only source for music videos, so all demographics were exposed to everything from Kate Bush to Run DMC. No one suffered from it. To the contrary, I believe it was a time of rich musical cross-pollination.
The last few episodes of Platinum Hit have gone slightly off the rails in the sense that contestants have clearly been eliminated not based on the quality of their songwriting but rather in order to maintain dramatic tension between characters: this still has to be entertaining TV. Nowhere was it more blatantly obvious than in shots of Granger’s own disbelief at having his song—which he had just described as unsuccessful—come in first at the end of an episode.
Artificially-imposed narrative aside, Platinum Hit is an interesting first glimpse into the world of beatmakers and topliners. The role of melodies, titles, song concepts, and chord changes is contextualized within the construction of a successful artist’s facade, giving some much-needed perspective on all that’s behind the front end of hit music.
The final episode of Season 1 airs this Friday August 5th.
In general I’m far more interested in hearing a singer-songwriter deliver their own lyric than hearing a performer sing something that was penned for them by an assembly line writer. By definition, I think a singer who chronicles their own thoughts and feelings can deliver authentic human experience more directly than one who acts out lines crafted by another person. So I cherish the work of auteurs like Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell, and I’ll take Alanis Morissette over Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige over Whitney Houston.
I can certainly leave a tradesperson like Diane Warren, who for many years was LA’s go-to writer for romantic schlock like Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’ and Celine Dion’s ‘Because You Loved Me’. Warren claims never to have been in love, and she hates dating. In a way, her inexperience with love does show in the almost camp, overshot grandiosity of her lyrics. And while overshot sentiment sells because it gets its point across quickly and clearly, I just have a fundamental issue with pinning my own romantic yearnings to somebody’s calculated product.
But there are exceptions to my ban. One is the Motown assembly line of the 60s, in which Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote the most significant portion of the material for an entire stable of artists in Detroit. My theory there is that the momentum of the label’s fresh, exciting sound and the writers’ melodic gifts attracted every aspiring singer in the city…and then the universality of the lyrics allowed the singers to throw themselves into performances convincingly, as though the songs were confessionals from their own lives…similar to an artist choosing to record a cover version of someone else’s song because it has tremendous personal significance for them.
Another exception is New York’s Brill Building, which fostered a competitive atmosphere for songwriters, peaking in output in the late 50s and early 60s with Burt Bacharach, Neil Diamond, Carole King, Neil Sedaka and Phil Spector all hanging around, pushing each other to be greater songsmiths. Again: an almost magical kind of momentum seems to have been present.
Those I would call auteurs appear to discover the chorus of a song organically from a personal feeling or event they’re describing. In contrast, assembly-line writing often involves first searching for one original, evocative central concept (ie ‘You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman’ came out of the Brill Building for Aretha Franklin) that will serve as the chorus, and then fashioning the rest of the song outward from that…creating verses and bridges that will set up and support the story, always bringing us back to the point the chorus makes. Slightly cheaper than working from an original central concept, an unused pop culture catch-phrase will suffice as the chorus (Motown’s writers gave ‘You Beat Me To The Punch’ to Mary Wells). Today much top 40 rap is based around nabbing the most up-to-the-minute catch-phrases and creating a cool/dirty/funny track around that (see ‘Superman That Hoe‘ a/k/a ‘Crank That’ by Soulja Boy).
A few weeks ago Island/Def Jam artist Jenna Andrews played me a rough cut of her upcoming debut album. A gorgeous production featuring her instantly recognizable voice upfront, much of it was penned by the industry’s fastest-climbing new writer Claude Kelly. And I need to tell you…this guy’s crazy. Jenna described his pen-and-paperless process to me: he toplines (writes lyrics and melodies over instrumental tracks) by getting into the vocal booth, turning down the lights, balling up on the floor and having the engineer play the track on repeat for a while. He locks in to who he’s writing for and finds the sentiment. Then he gets up and writes at the mic, no doubt influenced by the freestyle process of many rappers…but he also mimics the voice of the person he’s writing for. He goes back and forth within the song as necessary, changing and filling in lines, taking about two hours to put down an entire song complete with background vocals.
Claude’s still in his 20s and he’s already written hits in several styles, including ‘Circus’ for Britney Spears, ‘Party In The U.S.A.’ for Miley Cyrus and Adam Lambert’s ‘For Your Entertainment.’ He’s written extensively for Akon and Toni Braxton, and for Whitney Houston’s comeback album. To understand the way he embodies the singer he’s writing for, check out the excellent ‘I Hate Love,’ a demo he recorded for Toni Braxton. The song’s unique central concept is the idea that someone could come to hate being in love because each day spent away from your lover is exceedingly painful. This oddly dark sentiment is somehow appropriate for her persona and his delivery is full of Braxtonisms. A quick search of his name on YouTube reveals an array of leaked demos of unreleased songs for a range of artists…judging by the sound of his delivery, some of them would seem to be for Akon, Whitney Houston, and Trey Songz.
We have modern-day net leakage to thank for this type of insight into a fascinating writing process. I hate to throw the phrase ‘bonafide genius’ around, but let’s say Claude Kelly is a talent to watch. It would be even more interesting to hear a Claude Kelly solo record, giving him the opportunity to step into the role of auteur…and to sing as himself.
I’m not a music snob.
As boring as I think Britney Spears is, I own a copy of the 12″ single of ‘Baby One More Time’ because I think that song was a piece of pop writing on par with some of Abba’s achievements: every line of the melody is a hook. When I find myself in conversations with people who pride themselves on being perceived as connoisseurs of far-flung artists just for the exclusivity of being in on the obscure, I tend to bring up top 40 songs like ‘Love At First Sight’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ by Kylie Minogue…not because I’m a fan in particular, but because those are well-crafted songs whose writers chose the right moment to cleverly bite the style of some 80s Olivia Newton-John singles. Whether an artist’s material works or not, to me, is a separate issue from how commercial or anti-commercial they choose to be.
However I don’t think it’s coincidence that many of the biggest female icons in music have been regarded as nothing more than pop fluff. They are not thought of as making musical contributions on the level of, say, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Prince, or even John Legend or Robbie Williams…in part because, when it comes to music, western society still shows its dyed-in-the-wool patriarchal values: the straight white male audience still ultimately dictates what is perceived as serious music in the mainstream.
But it can be argued that gay men, in fact, stand at the epicenter of pop music. Because, as early adopters and fiercely loyal supporters of the artists that appeal to them, they cause everybody else to look up and wonder what the hell all of the commotion is about.
The undying support of an army of gay men stands behind virtually every major female star from Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, Cher and Bette Midler to Diana Ross, Tina Turner and Donna Summer, through to Cyndi Lauper and Whitney Houston, past Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan, up to Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. It seems clear that the messages strong female figures are apt to convey help give voice to a part of the gay male psyche. Surnames are dropped as gay men begin to regard these women–from Janet to Kylie to Celine–as close personal friends. Few male artists get that kind of rousing support from the gays, besides passing fixations with boy bands and a handful of gay-like-us mascots such as Elton John, George Michael and the Pet Shop Boys, awarded the solidarity of the queer masses even when the relevance of their output has dimmed.
Labels know they’ve got a hit act when straight men begin to find themselves dragged to homocentric concerts by their hip girlfriends. And you won’t find many solo male artists with the staying power of these women, doing huge stadium shows years or decades after first appearing on the scene.
Of all of the female icons, Madonna has carved out the deepest, widest swath. My fellow gays have tried to engage me in ‘Kylie vs. Madonna’ or ‘Britney vs. Madonna’ arguments. You may be drawn to Kylie because she’s more refined, or you may be drawn to Britney because she’s more Of-The-Now, but personal taste aside those arguments seem somewhat ludicrous to me: it’s a fact that Madonna has had the most impact musically and culturally for the longest period of time. An important distinction: unlike many on the Diva List, she’s been at the helm of her career this whole time…from manipulating her own image to co-writing much of the material she sings (right back at the beginning she wrote ‘Lucky Star’ on her own). The release of her fourth hits compilation, ‘Celebration’, seems as fitting a time as any to discuss what exactly her contribution has been.
I followed her output with increasing anticipation from the beginning up until the late 90s, around the time of ‘Music’. For me, the golden period was from the release of the ‘Like A Prayer’ video to the release of the ‘Erotica’ single, inclusive, because during that run she seemed to tap into the subjects and aesthetics I was ready to absorb at the time. Through the various phases of her career, that type of synchronistic experience has not been uncommon for whoever her 20-something gay male fans happen to be at the time. After the release of ‘American Life’ I rolled my eyes when a 20-ish gay grabbed my shoulders and shook me saying ‘no you don’t understand how brilliant she is’. ’How brilliant she is’ was old news, and this was just a new incarnation of Madonna doing her thing…pushing the hot buttons of the collective psyche of a new generation.
She’s stated that button-pushing is her agenda. Having been given the name ‘Madonna’ at birth, she then had the wits to parlay those built-in religious connotations into a Mother Mary vs. Mary Magdalene (ie. a Madonna-Whore dichotomy) by introducing a heavy dose of overt sexuality into the balanced equation that became her persona. Other female icons who opt to sexualize their image don’t have that built-in balance, because they aren’t inherently pressing that other universal button…the Religion button…all the while.
In the late 80s and early 90s the trendy way to dismiss Madonna was to say ‘well, she’s a great business person, I respect her for that,’ – implying that there wasn’t much else to respect her for. But I think it bears repeating that she’s often had her finger on the pulse, not just in a surface way, co-opting fashion and dance from subcultures at the right moment, but also in that synchronistic way, tapping into the questions people in their late teens and early 20s are grappling with at any given time. Her precocious curiosity has caused her to ask the right questions at the right moment…coaxing the public consciousness forward to confront specific sexual, religious and political issues…coaxing a little bit of liberalization here and there.
Nobody ever considered Madonna a great singer, herself included: she admits it in the ‘Truth Or Dare’ documentary, and a few years later, before filming ‘Evita’, she began taking singing lessons in an attempt at self-improvement. In her earliest recordings she was squeaky and uncontrolled. But there’s something else there that I feel is rarely, if ever, acknowledged: there’s a spirit in those performances, an unbridled, uncontrolled passion that made it clear to all of us that she was really throwing herself into it. And because she believed so strongly in what she was singing, many of us bought it too.
Witness the moments of full throttle rasp on this series of clips from her pre-singing-lesson days: ‘Holiday’ (from her self-titled debut album), ‘Into The Groove’ (from the ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ soundtrack), ‘Papa Don’t Preach’, ‘Open Your Heart’ and ‘Where’s The Party’ (from ‘True Blue’), ‘Express Yourself’ (from ‘Like A Prayer’) , ‘Vogue’ and ‘Rescue Me’ (both from ‘The Immaculate Collection’). On the last three, support from her new mainstay background singers Donna DeLory and Niki Haris drove her to push even harder.
In those days, she also did something vocally that gave the impression she was on the verge of tears as she sang. On certain lines in ‘Stay’ (from ‘Like A Virgin’), ‘Open Your Heart’ (from ‘True Blue’), ‘The Look Of Love’ (from the ‘Who’s That Girl’ soundtrack), ‘Dear Jessie’ and ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ (both from ‘Like A Prayer’) she articulates a depth of emotion by lowering her tone to a throaty yawn. (The most obvious example is the line ‘your love parade’ toward the end of the clip of ‘Dear Jessie’.)
According to vocal teachers this yawny tone is the result of a singer lowering or ‘depressing’ their larynx, and it’s not considered good vocal technique. However it’s emotionally effective: we hear her veering toward tears and we veer emotionally with her. I doubt this was pre-meditated on her part; she was probably just using what she had available to her, naturally, to make us feel something. To me, this is what music is about…when something works emotionally, technique is quickly made irrelevant.
After training for ‘Evita’ she immediately became self-conscious of her delivery. On ‘You’ll See’ (from ‘Something To Remember’) she’s lost all of her spontaneous passion…and we’ve lost the Madonna that threw herself into things so fully. On ‘Frozen’ and ‘The Power Of Goodbye’ (from ‘Ray Of Light’) she’s found a more suitable direction, material-wise, for her opera-esque vocal approach…but it was not until many years later on ‘Hung Up’ that she reconnected that improved vocal technique with her passion and urgency.
Self-consciousness has also been her enemy when it comes to lyric-writing. At a certain point, perhaps after the personal, confessional writing on the ‘Like A Prayer’ album received critical praise, Madonna decided she could go deeper lyrically…sometimes to good effect, but more often not. ‘Erotica’ contains a mess of a ballad called ‘In This Life,’ a song dedicated to AIDS victims. While her intentions may have been good, this is the definition of poor writing: going nowhere melodically, and lyrically hitting us over the head with overwrought emotion and clichés.
On ‘Bedtime Stories,’ her foray into R&B, she succeeds in growing, lyrically, on ‘Secret’ and ‘Survival,’ discovering clever ways to deliver heavy-handed philosophical messages indirectly. On the former she delivers the universal truth of ‘learning to love yourself’ in an egoless fashion by presenting it as a secret someone else possessed (and she didn’t); and on the latter she confesses, with humility, that just like everybody else her life is about survival. After gaining our trust by speaking to us as equals, we can receive her ‘no risk, no glory’ philosophy without feeling that we’re being preached to.
Madonna had also contacted Bjork, asking her to write a song for this album. Bjork culled ideas from a track rejected from her own ‘Post’ album (‘Sweet Intuition’ a/k/a ‘Sweet Sweet Intuition’), remodeling it as ‘Bedtime Story’ for Madonna. Knowing this, one can only postulate that Madonna admired Bjork’s esoteric lyrical sensibility, and, feeling co-opted, Bjork’s response was to work the system by giving her a recycled b-side that then became a lucrative writing venture…after all it became a Madonna single.
Madonna’s writing style on ‘Ray Of Light’ seemed to be an attempt at that off-center Bjork-esque weirdness she admired. Many of the sincerely introspective songs succeeded, but songs like ‘Skin’ rang with an obvious attempt at obliqueness: it’s not believable when Madonna pushes herself to be anywhere near as eccentric as Bjork is. On songs like ‘Sky Fits Heaven’ she takes it upon herself to dispense lofty advice to us from a prophet. Later in the track she tempers her preachiness, bringing herself back down to our level by listing what her life choices have been, for better or for worse.
Much of ‘American Life’, and parts of the albums on either side of it, presented a Madonna that had come to believe she had important philosophies to teach the world. This was likely an intersection of Kabbalah evangelism and her self-awarded position of ‘experienced elder who had been through the fame machine and come out the other side’. She is equally obnoxious critiquing her country of birth from her adopted home in the UK (on the title track) as she is chastising herself aimlessly on ‘I’m So Stupid,’ a song that seems as though it was written off the top of her head. On ‘Let It Will Be’ (from ‘Confessions On A Dance Floor’), she can’t resist interrupting a great return-to-form album with more advice from the other side of fame. This Madonna wasn’t received as readily, partly because her promotion to teacher was not entirely believable, and partly because it’s not easy to stomach famous people lecturing on the woes of fame.
‘Nothing Fails,’ (from ‘American Life) works when she confesses personal feelings of love. It falls apart in the next verse when she speaks to us from her high horse again, proclaiming her own wisdom with ‘you could take all this, take it away, and I’d still have it all cause I’ve climbed the tree of life and that is why I’m no longer scared if I fall’.
What Madonna fails to realize is that she makes music that connects and transcends…but only when she zens out: only when she doesn’t overthink her singing or pressure herself to be deep, oblique or wise. I’m glad this new compilation is themed as it is, because her celebratory songs like ‘Holiday’ have served a more profound purpose than some of her spiritual musings. Her delivery of the melody in ‘Holiday’ has a tinge of melancholic depth to it and the groove has lifted many a spirit over the quarter century since it first appeared. ’Express Yourself’ was a passionately belted call to action that was equally feminist, fun and sexy. The ‘Ray Of Light’ album caught her at a moment of reflective experimentation before she fully decided to crown herself armchair philosopher with a really loud microphone. The meandering path she’s been on since then, only broken briefly by the core of ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor,’ has proven that even after plying us for years with sugar and honey in the form of fun dance anthems, the world doesn’t need every artist to enter a ‘deep experimental’ phase the way the Beatles, Radiohead, Bjork or Joni Mitchell have: Madonna’s rousing anthems and unselfconscious, sincere moments have been profoundly useful enough to earn her a place in many of our lives.
It’s difficult for an audience in a club to know exactly what the DJ is manipulating at a given time and what’s already part of the track they’re playing. Too often I’ve heard someone on their way out of a club crying ‘the way that DJ remixed the new Britney was fiiierth!’ (or some variation) making it obvious that they believe DJs ‘remix’ songs on the spot, creating a new version of a song by laying an acapella over another track that they’re creating live. Nine times out of ten what’s happening is the DJ is simply playing a remix a producer slaved over in the studio for a few weeks…it’s just a remix that particular club-goer hadn’t heard before.
There are exceptions. Joe Claussell is a New York-based DJ who constantly manipulates the music he’s playing. He’ll often have a drum track looped while he twists a knob on his mixing desk in quick rhythmic stabs, teasing the crowd with chopped-up, filtered hints of a vocal track before bringing it in fully.
In Toronto, Deko-ze is a DJ I’ve watched keep four tracks running simultaneously, mixing and matching elements from all of them, looping a beat on a CD deck in front of him while reaching off the to side to nudge a record like a plate spinner sensing the need for a slight adjustment.
Some laptop DJs running Ableton Live are able to perform in a similar way because the software has the flexibility to loop a section of one track while the DJ chooses sections of other tracks to bring in, however the need to develop the physical skill of matching the speed of two tracks is eliminated because the software does it for them.
What the audience needs to understand is that a DJ spinning vinyl or CDs cannot separate individual parts of a track unless they’ve been supplied individually on a single or a bootleg. In other situations the best they can do is filter out the bass in a track to clear away some drums and expose the vocal a bit more, or filter out the treble to do the opposite. DJs that are acrobatic enough to have 2, 3 or 4 tracks spinning simultaneously are often layering drums on CD decks (they’re able load a perfectly looped section into memory), adding an acapella they obtained somewhere, and possibly adding musical elements from an instrumental mix of another track. It’s possible to go back and repeat a section of a vocal, or something relatively simple like that, but it’s difficult to apply rapid-fire effects to a vocal. Often you’re hearing something that’s on the acapella already, or the DJ has done some preparation of the track at home first.
What the great majority of DJs do is play one track after another, and the only time more than one element is being heard at the same time is while the DJ is fading from one track into the other, making use of the drums-only intros and outros tacked onto virtually every club track available today. Essentially, club tracks are designed like Lego blocks. The next one snaps onto the last one in most any configuration. It’s known as ‘Train Wrecking’ when a DJ messes up by letting two drum tracks get out of sync with each other while fading from one track to another…because, ostensibly, it sounds as messy as a train going off the tracks.
Club audiences have splintered into as many genres as house music has fractured into. And a DJ that only needs to play one genre, like dubstep or electro, doesn’t have to worry too much about the tracks they play being wildly different in tempo, rhythm or sonic range. Within this realm, the difference between a good DJ and a bad DJ is their taste in tracks, and their ability to read a crowd.
On the extreme side of DJ laziness is Israeli superstar DJ Offer Nissim, who is rumoured to put on a full-length CD created in the studio beforehand and pretend to mix all night from one track to another, collecting a $20k cheque at the end for showing up and ‘performing’!
In the early 90s, when turntables were the only sound source and DJs would begin a night with R&B and rap, progressing to house and eventually hard techno by the end of the night, the DJ had to work hard to learn what worked and what didn’t. Those turntables didn’t have as wide a pitch adjustment range as technology offers now, so beat-mixed music would have to change tempo incrementally over a few tracks.
Some all-but-lost creative mixing techniques include ‘braking’ (hitting the Stop button on the turntable to slow one track dead and then starting the next one, a technique used to start a set in a different tempo) and the ‘hard cut’ (where a DJ would surprise the crowd by cutting from one track directly into another). Hard cuts were sometimes necessary because tracks didn’t always begin with long drum intros…keyboard or acapella intros were acceptable on a 12″ version and this required the DJ to get a little creative.
One of my favourite creative mixes exists on a mixtape made by Toronto’s Patrick ‘D-Nice’ Hodge in 1992. It’s somewhere between a regular crossfade and a hard cut:
At 0:23 the piano riff that comes in is from the next record, ‘Back To Me’ by Ubiquity. This riff is in the same key as the previous record, and it works beautifully with the existing chord progression we’ve been listening to. At 0:31 he drops the first record entirely, as the beat comes in on the new record. The fact that he recognized these two records in his crate would work together in this way is one of those happy accidents that happen increasingly often the more attuned a DJ gets to his material. The second track coming in, by the way, is just slightly flat, because at that time in order to line up the tempo of two recordings, the original pitch of the recordings would slide around as necessary. That’s no longer an issue with CD decks and laptops.
I still don’t know what track Patrick was mixing out of here. If anyone can identify it, please hit me with an e-mail.
Continuing back in time to the mid-70s when DJs like Tom Moulton in New York discovered disco’s relentless ’4-on-the-floor’ kick drum pattern, the concept of beat-matching two tracks while mixing from one to the other was born. It’s worth mentioning that at that time there were even greater physical challenges for the DJ. Most of these tracks were not recorded at a stable tempo, so the DJ was constantly adjusting the turntable to keep the beat aligned, especially if they were trying to keep two songs running together for more than a few seconds. DJ turntables with convenient pitch sliders and robust tonearms/needles hadn’t been developed yet and neither had 12″ singles with extended versions that had long drum breaks for mixing.
Moulton was reportedly the first DJ to make long versions of his favourite songs by editing them on reel to reel tape and bringing the machine to the club that night. Some of his re-edits were later released by the original labels. I also have it on good authority that at Studio 54, staples like ‘Come To Me’ by France Joli would be extended manually by the DJ by mixing back and forth between two copies of the same record. DJing was a highly physical act at the time, and within the technical limitations there was quite a bit of creativity going on.