I’ve included this article in my “best of” as I believe it shows diversity and most importantly love. Passion was a massive element of the Blowback model and this special valentine’s edition really lived up to our wishes.
The article as itself suffers slightly from deadline furore and PR deferrals. Originally we wanted to talk to Ian Dewhirst about his acquisition and to present the history and maybe even get him to write a personal journey with Salsoul. We ended up chatting to Danny Krivit about his involvement with the label. The interview was held by Carl (Carlos) Platt. I also felt it important to measure the historical impact of the label throughout the years.. Big up must also be given for the design of this article (by Tim Jones) which took the Salsoul rainbow and changed it into rippling hearts.
Love Sensation For Salsoul there really weren’t no mountain high enough
Salsoul records was founded by three brothers in1974. Having made a modest fortune in distributing Latino music their ambition was to combine the rhythms of Salsa with burgeoning New York Soul music to expand beyond their community. 30 years later it is difficult to imagine how the dance community would have turned out without them. Salsoul records brought together a whole slew of talents and inspired a whole load more. Salsoul spread love.
Regardless of their early dreams, by 1975 Disco was taking hold of New York, working his first residence at Trude Heller’s was Danny Krivit.
‘My first awareness of Salsoul was being sent their first promo 12” in the mail that year. I remember it as one of the first 12” anywhere – Floyd Smith: I Just Can’t Give You Up. It was the next year with Double Exposure “Ten Percent” and the first Salsoul Orchestra album that the label took over as a sound. It really felt like a new age of disco. Where Philly had been the standard, this was the new level, essentially disco Philly hustle music. People were dancing the hustle everywhere and you saw it on Soul Train and American Bandstand – right then, it was much more about the hustle than straight free style. “Ten Percent” blew the doors open for Salsoul. It was an instantaneous success and every release after that was usually a hit.’
It was the Cayre brothers decision to make Ten Percent commercially available 12”. This meant that 12”s were no longer just the privilege of the DJ and made life a hell of a lot easier for the bedroom DJ. For Danny Krivit it also meant that 12”s were taken more seriously as a useful format.
‘They had 7 min 7inches, so to begin with, on the 12” it was the same version. An example is That’s Where The Happy People Go by The Tramps and it had the same version on the 7” that they eventually put on 12”. I would rather play it off the album than the 12”. You can imagine if it had been intended as a 12” it would have played better, because you have more room for fidelity.’
By 1976 Salsoul was in its Golden era, their distinctive rainbow motive appearing on a phenomenal amount of releases. Utilising the skill and expertise of people such as Vince Montanna Jr and his Salsoul Orchestra introduced vocalists Jocelyn Brown and Loleatta Holloway. These and other label releases were controlled by such luminary producers such as Walter Gibbons, Frankie Knuckles and Shep Petitbone. Krivit was doing support slots for Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage and times couldn’t get any Gooder.
‘When I first went to the Garage I just felt like this was what it was supposed to be. We were at the next natural succession. All the way, right from the beginning, at the construction parties and it just kept getting better and better’
Watching Walter Gibbons and Frankie Knuckles mix their own edits inspired Danny.
‘I noticed that DJs that I admired, had their own edits. It was beyond my comprehension how they did it, I thought it was like magic and I envied them!’ He laughs
Taking the lead from studio mentor Jonathon Fearing, Krivit began doing his own dub plates. This included blending MFSB’s Love Is The Message with Salsoul Orchestra’s Love Break, the version was so good it got a full pressing and was added to the public pile. Krivit became a man synonymous with the edit, but even now he keeps the sensation going.
‘You know they were labours of love. I had a lot of respect for the music as it was, it wasn’t “well this needs this” you know? Like kill it, I really treated them with kid gloves.’
When Salsoul finally folded in 1985, it by no means ended the story. The new house scene was picking up the baton and gold mining the past. Pushed originally by Petitbone samples were lifted for tracks such as Blackbox ‘Ride On Time’ and Kim Sims ‘Too Blind To See It’. Meanwhile MAW went to work on new version of Ten Percent.
After several haphazard major label re-issues the first record to be done with loving care was the Mastercuts series in 1991. In the sleeve notes Ian Dewhirst called them ‘a label that has undoubtedly been the most influential and inspirational example to today’s new producers and remixers.’ Perhaps even in response to this, Masters At Work later hooked up with the same (now) ageing Salsoul faces for the Nuyorican Soul Project.
The sampling continued into the nineties and noughties, from the Jaxx’s Red Alert to Spiller’s Groovejet. Krivit agrees with Dewhirst’s sentiment.
‘If you look at the whole scene there’s an enormous amount of technology doing the work of inspiration. I feel that fortunately for disco and other genres it’s something to reach back to and say well I’m not inspired now but I’ll borrow this thing and make a decent record because I recognise that this record is inspired.’
Now Suss’d guided by Dewhirst and his Simply Vinyl partner Chris Barnett have brought the whole Salsoul back catalogue and are re-releasing it on 12” over the next year. There are also mixes from people who have been inspired by Salsoul. This month Danny Krivit steps up to the plate with his favourites tunes, and his own edits.