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Six of their Best. Number One Armand Van Helden

Six of their Best. Number One Armand Van Helden

In this new mini series we go digging for the finest works of one particular producer.
The first legend to feature in this is New York's Armand Van Helden. A man who has been through many eras and different House music styles from over the last two and half decades or so. From massive remixes which were huge commercial hits, through to underground Disco House grooves on labels like Henry Street and Strictly Rhythm all the way through to deep and dirty speed garage anthems we cherry pick the Funk Phenomena and his finest works. Although I will leave out the obvious hits such as Tori Amos etc as we know they are good anyway and dont need anymore exposure. Instead Waxadisc Music has decided to relive and unearth his more underground classic cuts both as an artist and a remixer.  please remember these are just six personal favourites of mine ain no particular order.

Break Da 80's Strictly Rhythm 1994

A track from his unnamed E.P  on Strictly Rhythm Records in 1994. This was the track that Jason Nevins sampled a couple of years later for his massive Run DMC remix. But here Armands version starts of with an excerpt from the movie Beat Street But soon kicks into a dirty House vibe with a Slick Rick vocal sample. The track also makes good use of a sample from the Electro classic "The Smurf" by Tyrone Brunson which fits well over the pounding distorted beats. This track was one of my first introductions to Armands work. 

DJ Sneak & Armand Van Helden Psychic Bounty Killaz Chicago Relief 1996

During this mid 90s Armand  cut some outstanding filtered Disco house for a variety of labels. But here in 96 he teamed up with DJ Sneak and put out this unforgiving Disco monster on Chicago Relief Records. This track is right up there as a raw and dirty classic. The levels in the mix are gritty and at times distorted, but it does what it says on the tin and that is to rock the hell out of your soul. A very tough and uplifting repetitive groove, with superbly cut up beats in the first half, which breaks down and filteres into a stomping loop that still sounds contemporary.

CJ Bolland Sugar is Sweeter  Armands Remix FFRR 1996

Some time around the mid 90s we began to hear the influences of Drum & Bass creeping into House music. It would be in the Summer of 1997 that the Speed Garage truck would crash in the club scene at full speed and dominate for a short period. But in 1996 Armand struck a dark and mysterious chord with his CJ Bolland remix. This track was very menacing in its sound and even went as far as using a time stretched vocal which was a Drum & Bass signature technique. This track would also be remixed as a bootleg a few months later with Kathy Browns vocal thrown on top, but this original remix was the one that tore up the dance floor, and set a benchmark for many Speed Garage tracks to come.

Fine Young Cannibals The Flame Armands Ghostphunk Remix London Records 1996

Keeping within the early Speed Garage theme during this period, Armand did the remix for the return single of the British Pop/Funk band The Fine Young Cannibals. This remix though in contrast to the CJ Bolland remix was a lot more funkier in its style. Nevertheless it still has one of the most dark and creepy breakdowns I have ever heard. The drop is very funky and not as dirty as his other works from that era, but still a master stroke of simplicity. A very underrated and overlooked track from his discography.

The Wamdue Project Where Do We Go From Here. Armands Last Hustle in Paris remix 
Strictly Rhythm Records 1998

By 1998 the Speed Garage flavour had dried itself out in mainstream club land and the scene returned back underground. Disco House and Trance were starting to come through as the dominant forces during 1998 and into 1999. This remix by Armand is a perfectly executed filtered Disco House mega bomb. The original of this is still a mystery to me and I have never located it, but the sample he uses here is an obscure Funk track. If anyone knows the original then please let me know. But this track startsof with chanting and roughly cut up beats which lead into a complete drop of samples being stabbed back into the mix and then when it finally drops, all Hell breaks loose. A great record which I still play today.

Armand Van Helden The Funk Phenomena Henry Street Records 1996

So to close this post, It has to be done with an almighty banger from Armand. The Funk Phenomena which was released in 1996 with many different versions, but in my opinion they were all wasted as the original mix was the one that made this a classic. It didnt need any remixes producing, but still they werent all that bad. This track which uses the vocal sample from the Hip Hop legend "Redman" accompanied with a solid tight bass groove and Funky lick complete with chopped up beats still performs its purpose very well after 20 years in its ability to still rock the crowd.

Armand Van Helden has produced literally hundreds of tracks and remixes over the last 25 years. He has proved that he can genre hop and still remain credible. One of the scenes finest producers twho is still going strong today. Thanks for reading Rob Webster @Waxadisc 2017

Six of their Best. Number One Armand Van Helden Six of their Best. Number One Armand Van Helden Reviewed by Waxadiscmusic on 01:31 Rating: 5

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