Always anticipated by a wide legion of fans, renowned DJ Dave Lee’s (stage name Joey Negro) Remixed With Love compilation series is something that can’t help but generate attention. He once again puts his spin on more than a dozen seminal disco/soul/pop records from the ’70s and ’80s, preserving the integrity of the original versions while adding his signature flair for reimagining their most powerful and memorable elements. It can be a dicey affair tampering with classic dance music’s golden past, but Lee hits the bull’s eye most every time on the third installment of his series. In the two years that have passed since his last foray into yesterday’s beats, he’s been gathering some fascinating and rather stellar examples of vintage disco and funk. Take Eddie Kendrick’s 1976 Tamla/Motown nugget “Goin’ Up In Smoke,” which originally reached number 11 on the Billboard disco chart. Lee’s mix has a “Salsoul” flavor that flows effortlessly, favoring punchy horn work and bongo effervescence that was a bit more understated in the original. It feels a touch less dark, working on a retro-pop level that doesn’t diminish the song’s relevance or insightfulness one bit. Likewise, Lee recognizes the earnest, yearning vocals that made the funky pulse of Evelyn (Champagne) King’s 1981 summer smash “I’m In Love” so infectious (it reached number one and stayed on the Billboard dance chart for 22 weeks). Lee gives the track an ethereal big room makeover that’s a unique combination of dreamy and driving. His lushly orchestrated embelishments of Earth, Wind & Fire’s somewhat more obscure 1979 pop/disco track “Can’t Let Go” capture the theatricality of this cross between “Boogie Wonderland” and “Let’s Groove” and makes you wonder why it wasn’t a bigger hit in the States.
Ashford & Simpson’s relentlessly joyful “Found A Cure” seemed to (ironically) foreshadow the AIDS crisis just around the corner when it reached number one on Billboard’s disco survey in 1979. Here, Lee offers a dub version that, in some ways, draws attention to disco’s occasional reputation for long, repetitive instrumental breaks—where dancers frequently blissfully zoned out and critics took aim.
Jump to Gladys Knight & The Pips’ mid-charting disco effort “Bourgie’, Bourgie” from the group’s early ’80s Columbia catalog. Lee fully explores and gently reimagines the complexity of the track, appreciating the song’s irresistible strings, soulful passion and wonderful hook. Other tracks include Sister Sledges’ “You Fooled Around,” Booker T.’s “Don’t Stop Your Love” and Patrice Rushen’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and it quickly becomes evident that Lee is, indeed, a connoisseur of the genre, giving listeners a rare opportunity to embrace the extraordinary range of creativity that punctuated dance music in the ’70s and ’80s—be the tracks acknowledged classics or perhaps under-appreciated moments of brilliance. It’s a fine collection