Traxbox HurtBox003: A Reflection
When Trax Recordings began operating a staggering thirty years ago, it was highly unlikely that label owners Screaming Rachel and Larry Sherman had any idea about the importance of what they were doing. By releasing these 12s they created a genre that didnt exist and inadvertently turned the colour on in the UK, a dour no fun country, with these tracks we learnt to jack, the dance floor became a place of expression and individuality, differences were accepted, leering on the side-lines nursing a pint of something flat and warm, no longer acceptable. Neither Sherman nor Rachel could have realised how important their Trax imprint was to become in dance musics history, they were just tracks, now, thirty years on, theres no doubt how vital Trax was in teaching people how to dance, if you have danced recently, no matter what style of 4/4, the planted seeds are contained within this collection.
Traxbox takes their first seventy five 12 releases, gives them a remaster polish and presents them in a garish box over sixteen CDs. This repackaging was recently done in a similar manner with Terry Farley Presents Acid Rain, a collection of acid and deep House from 1985-1991, this is a much more detailed collection of the two genres, mainly because it incorporated tracks from numerous labels but due to Trax releasing so many important dance tracks, it contained a significant amount of tunes from the label. The majority of great tracks from the early days of house came from Trax, but where Acid Rain was sleek and comprehensive, Traxbox is a sprawling listen of varying quality, you get brilliant lead tracks, then the rest of the 12, the majority of which is no more than a tweaked version of the main track or a kick drum and a stuttering sample saying ja ja ja ja jack.
Trax records were originally pressed on second hand vinyl, sounding so badly pressed that on some of the 12s you could actually hear the track that was originally on the record underneath, so the process to remaster these tracks must have been pretty painstaking, a job given to Ian Dewhirst, a man up to the job more than most, thanks to his history with the classic re-issue series on the Mastercuts label.
What is most fascinating about this package is their journey from varying styles as the label found its identity, flitting from italo influenced pop, proto electro, jacking techno, finally finding their direction with what was to be named house music.
All the usual suspects are here in various guises: Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard, Marshall Jefferson, these are the godfathers. Ever danced in a nightclub? These guys invented this shit, theyre the facilitators, the originators, without them and without Trax there would be no disco dancing. Which would you prefer? Double denim, dancing round handbags to Shawaddywaddy, or Jamie Principle groaning over Frankies Baby Wants to Ride, Ron Hardys punk disco cut Sensation or Bonnie bloody Tyler?
Traxboxs strengths lie in the sheer amount of iconic dance music anthems, proof? Mr Fingers Washing Machine stands up against Marshalls Move Your Body representing old school house, acid house ground zero Acid Tracks by Phuture and Adonis No Way Back are undeniable in status and stature while the heads down, gurns out mindfucks of Sleezy Ds I Lost Control and Adonis No Way Back, these NEVER get boring. Elsewhere youve got the emotive synth led soundscapes from Virgo, and of course, the unforgettable Your Love featuring an impassioned vocal from Jamie Principle and THAT riff, one of the most iconic 80s house tracks of all time.
Obviously, when you have sixteen cds worth of music to listen to, you wont find love for it all, as mentioned previously; including each track from each EP mean you do end up with a fair bit of clutter but as a historical lesson in one of the most enduring genres of music, Traxbox instantly enhances the collections of all of those who delve in.