Album Reviews

Roy Ayers – Virgin Ubiquity Remixed

(Rapster) UK release date: 30 January 2006

Roy Ayers is one of those names that often floats around in the ether. You’ve heard the name, he’s probably been recommended to you – but have you heard the music?

If not – why not? Ayers’ 40 or so years in the music business straddles jazz, funk, soul, disco, fusion and even a spell afro-funking with the great Fela Kuti. It’s often said that without him there would be no acid jazz scene and anyone who has caught his regular residencies at Ronnie Scott’s or the Jazz Caf´┐Ż will testify to his brilliance at making the vibraphone so damn funky.

Recent output from Ayers has focused on reworking his original classics with today’s vocalists and musicians. For me the golden age was the ’70s when he produced his most exciting and inventive material. When it was discovered that there were literally hundreds of unreleased tracks from this period many music lovers thought they had found the Holy Grail. BBE records have already released 2 volumes of Virgin Ubiquity with more gems to come and this third volume contains many DJ friendly remixes of the first two album’s highlights.

The album itself is culled for a series of bestselling 12″ EPs and as a fitting tribute to Ayers this contains an intriguing mixture of styles. The emphasis is well and truly on updating the tracks to today’s club standards.

The album kicks off with a slice of funky house in the form of Kenny Dope‘s remix of Holiday. Whilst I admit to not being the world’s greatest house fan this is a lively opener and certainly gets things going in style.

Joey Negro contributes an extremely infectious remix of Sugar which really makes you sit up and listen. The track works wonderfully as it thrusts Ayer’s instrumentation into the foreground. If it doesn’t get you going you might as well give up listening to music altogether.

Other tracks include Touch Of Class which lives up to it’s name with a superb breakbeat and plinky-ponk sample. Elsewhere Liquid Love gets an effective latino makeover.

Fans of other genres can rejoice as one of my favourite Roy tracks Mystic Voyage gets injected with some trance’n’bass. Tarzan gets an appropriate afro disco themed remix. Even Hip Hop is not ignored with a great reworking of Funk In The Hole.

The album concludes with Basement Jaxx‘s reworking of I Am Your Mind Pt II – a track which is certainly up to their reliable standards.

This all might seem a little too club friendly, especially to dance cynics such as myself, but the whole point of dance music is to make you dance. Thankfully there’s plenty here to win you over and get you on your feet.

This is a fine remix album, marrying together different styles of music. My one reservation is that it’s probably best suited to the summer months as the general vibe seems a bit out of place in the grey winter, but for DJs and fans this is an essential purchase. If you’ve never heard any Roy Ayers before then this is a fitting place to start.

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Roy Ayers – Virgin Ubiquity Remixed