Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'll Wax You Down Like a Candle

J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E. - Strong Island (The Blue Mix)

The original 12” pressing of the ‘Blue Mix’ of ‘Strong Island’ by J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E (AJ Rok, B-Luv and Curt Cazal) is rarer than Dodo doo-doo – the cheapest you are likely to pick one up one of these bad boys for nowadays is around $600. The mix was released specifically for the UK market in 1988, as the rapper AJ Rok explains –

“The UK was giving us mad love. So we did something just for the UK. It ended up going other places, but it was just for the UK.”

I find it hard to fathom why it is so sought after – though the original is definitely one of the finest hip-hop tracks of all time, the ‘Blue Mix’ doesn’t bring that much extra to the party. In places it feels more like a stripped-down dub – the vocals are often left accapella and the main guitar lick comes and goes. You can hear the awesome break nice and cleanly, and get a feeling for how the song was constructed – it's a bit like opening up the bonnet of a car and having a look at the engine. There are a few extra samples lobbed in here and there, in an effort to capitalise on the success of Coldcut’s remix of Eric B and Rakim’s ‘Paid in Full’, but it isn’t anywhere near as commercial as that. It’s raw and heavy. Dope, but not super dope.

And no, I don't own it. The re-released CD version of the Force's debut album 'Doin' Damage' featured the 'Blue Mix' as a bonus track, though that doesn't seem to have devalued the price of the original vinyl.

If you're feeling flush, here's an original pressing on eBay
J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E. discography
J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E. MySpace