Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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John Morales: Always In The Mix

John Morales
John Morales John Morales John Morales John Morales

“It's five years of sweat, tears and there's blood stains on the floor of my house…all the times I've changed and gone back and adjusted things and re-thought about every detail. For the people that may hate it, I will be fine because I know I've put everything I could into it.” Remix legend John Morales is clearly passionate about his up-coming project “M+M Mixes Volume 4”. The latest in the series, released through BBE (Barely Breaking Even) Records, is a colourful and eclectic array of classics hits which have been given the ‘Morales Midas touch’.

Known for his gift for sensitively, reworking arrangements while still maintaining the integrity of the original track, Morales has found a way of making old school Funk, Disco and R&B accessible for the twenty-first century dancefloor. Featuring tracks by Frankie Beverly, Barry White and Diana Ross, the thirty-five track collection is truly a sonic treasure trove that carefully documents the evolution of each genre while seamlessly bridging the gap between the past and the present.

Over his forty-year career, John has produced upwards of 700 mixes, many of which were created during his prolific partnership with the late Sergio Munzibai. Having worked with icons including Marvin Gaye, The Rolling Stones and Tina Turner, John has quite a story to tell. Currently travelling the world DJ’ing, B&S’ Karen Lawler recently caught-up with the remixing legend to talk about his new standout, soulful compilation.

“I tried to make the project diverse and not just disco or one thing. I wanted ballads, some up-tempos, some soul and R&B. A lot of thought went into it,” John continues. “‘M+M Volume 4’ is a continuation of the ‘M+M’ series, which is basically me remixing the old classics that I like but for Volume 4, I decided to offer the listening public something different…rather than the same thing over and over. There was a lot of thought given to the sequencing of (each CD). There's The Jones Girls “Life Goes On”. There's Frankie Beverly, The Controllers, Dan Hartman, Tom Browne and Barry White. I wanted each CD to have a flow (that) hopefully doesn't get boring. There's a couple of obscure things like Tamiko Jones and Tata Vega. The sequencing of the tracks probably changed a hundred times because I wanted to make sure that the flow from one song to another was good.

On producing the mixes Morales shares “Initially, I tend to have a little bit of an idea but until you actually get into the workings of it, you really don't know where you can take it. When you're mixing a record, even though it ends up as a whole, it starts as 16 or 24 individual pieces. It's like cooking - maybe a little bit of salt makes it taste better? The same way that bringing the guitar up in certain parts, or a piano, or taking something out... When I start something, I try to make an intro that's a little bit exciting. I let the song develop because I have that dance background - I find a way to create some excitement in the middle and then an ending that's good”.

Coming from the Bronx, in New York, Morales’ Puerto Rican household was always filled with music. Not yet sure where to invest his creative energy, at school, John simply wanted to be closer to the music. He soon found himself working in a record store. Recalling the experience Morales says “I think it just fuelled the love for music. As a very young lad I did have music in the house, but working in the store just made it all about the music”. He adds, “The top 100 45's would be on the wall in little slots on the wall, so during the whole week I was trying to figure out what ten records I would take as my salary, so I would listen to everything. Of course, I would buy more than ten records, so I end up spending half of my lunch money on top of what they gave me. It was just a progression of constantly having some type of music in my life”.

The 2xCD or 3xLP “M+M Mixes Volume 4” is out December 1st on BBE Records.

You can read more from our exclusive interview with remix legend John Morales, including how he got into remixing and how he got his big break with a song which featured the immense vocal talents of Jocelyn Brown. Also, becoming one-half of the resident remix team at Motown Records, his ten year hiatus from remixing and the reasons for his return. Plus, working with The Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger nicking his jacket! All in the current issue of Blues & Soul Magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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Words Karen Lawler

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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