Review: DJ Deeon – Deeon Doez Deeon (Numbers)

Numbers have had a fine few months on the release front with the cracking ‘Everything You Did Has Already Been Done’ by Unspecified Enemies and the third volume of Lory D’s acidic ‘Strange Days’ odyssey leading the way forward. And although on the face of it neither record seems to have much in common with the other, both are actually pretty good examples of Numbers’ ethos of providing the world with pretty bang up party music that’ll melt your face whilst getting you dancing.

This unhinged series continues into threesome territory with ‘Deeon Doez Deeon’, a record pitched somewhere between a repress and a greatest hits compilation for which the Numbers boys have selected some of their favourite tracks from ghetto-house master and Chicago legend DJ Deeon, and remastered them from the ancient DATs. It’s a timely release too; interest in Dance Mania and ghetto-house is in the ascension again, perhaps as part of dance music’s current fascination with its own past, but more hopefully because people are seeking some sort of antidote to the increasingly tepid tide of ultra dull deep house and techno that is flooding the nation’s ears at the moment.

And what an antidote it is. Even though at times a little ghetto-house can go a long way, there is no doubt that the stripped down snarl of the genre is as much of a shock to the system now as it was back then in the mid nineties. Although these four selections are largely short of the triple X vocal content that was a hallmark of much of the genre, they remain stark, bruising reminders of what you can do when you cut out the bullshit and get back to basics.

Whether or not ‘Deeon Doez Deeon’ represents the best of the best from Deeon’s long and influential career is a question for others to ponder. Deliberately or otherwise the four tracks comprise a pretty tasty cross-section of his work, and it’s interesting to note the ways in which his particular sounds not only had a major effect on the scene back then, but continue to shape various strands of house music nowadays.

Freak Like Me, for example, is the template that so many modern day producers have attempted to make their own. The chugging romp of the bass and the tender, soulful vocals might pre-date the likes of Delroy Edwards by a couple of decade but it still sounds like it was made today. Its functionality is a real virtue; lean, and dangerous, there isn’t a note out-of-place, or a hand clap that doesn’t need to be there. The vocals adding a powerful touch of humanity to the pounding beats, drawing it all together into a proper anthem.

The other side of the coin are the two full on machine jams, House-o-matic and The 604. Both tunes furious assaults on the senses and the dancefloor, they shift around on the backs of avalanching toms and lithe, rubbery bass lines that guide you into the fast lane. They give no quarter – this is about as explosive as house music gets; they make some hard techno tracks I could mention look like Barry Manilow.

The crowning moment of the record though is 2 B Free. Not only one of Deeon’s finest moments, or even of ghetto-house, but one of the best tunes to ever come out of Chicago. Originally released on the ‘Deeon Doez Disco’ EP way back in ’96, it is a wild, crazed psychedelic disco tune built around a killer Loose Joints sample that takes hold and just will not quit.

This is what ghetto house sounds like in the hands of the master. If this doesn’t get you moving, well, probably nothing much will. Magic tracks from way back when that’ll keep casting their spells today. Christ yes.