Various artists: "A Tom Moulton Mix"

Various artists
"A Tom Moulton Mix"
Soul Jazz

"Former model" isn't usually a promising résumé-builder in the music world, but Tom Moulton was different. An A&R man for King Records in the '60s who followed that job by cashing in on his Tom of Finland looks, Moulton began crafting reel-to-reel tapes of the latest club hits in the early '70s out of frustration with DJs' inability to keep the beat going seamlessly all night long. He then became a professional remixer when he spliced-and-diced B.T. Express's "Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)" into a radio hit, and accidentally invented the 12-inch single when the pressing plant ran out of 7-inch acetates.

Moulton has mixed literally thousands of records (he's still at it today), but it's hard to imagine 16 that hang together better than the ones chosen for the two-CD "A Tom Moulton Mix". (The quotes are included in tribute to their use in his record-label credits.) It kicks off with an 11:14 reworking of Eddie Kendricks's "Keep on Truckin'" that blows the original off the road by cleaning up its muddy mix, tweaking and extending its groove into an ur-model of slinky funk. Siblings Al and Don Downing check in with cuts ("I'll Be Holding On" and "Dreamworld") that—take your pick—juice strings-laden disco with Wilson Pickett-style soul shouting or air out Staxian R&B with a relaxed, hedonistic feel. And the synth hook of Udell's lost 1977 classic "Won't You Try" sounds like it was played on a bionic Slinky. Without question, one of the greatest disco albums ever assembled.

 
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