Review: James Mason - The Dance Of Life

Will unreleased tracks from the disco icon live up to the hype? Turns out the anser is yes...

Review: James Mason - The Dance Of Life

Will unreleased tracks from the disco icon live up to the hype? Turns out the anser is yes...

In certain circles, news that James Mason found an unreleased stash of tracks he'd recorded in the 70s is akin to hearing someone just came across a couple of extra books of the bible. Previously Mason was known for recording a single album, 1978s revered disco funk classic Rhythm of Life. Now Rush Hour have got hold of an album's worth of unreleased material, and expectations are predictably skyhigh.

Fortunately - for the two tracks of this 12" anyway - the quality is just what you'd expect. A side, The Dance of Life is an up tempo disco roller, with percussion rolling around a vocal that layers over and over in a constant build. It's spacious, and ever so slightly other-worldly, and sounds like it would have easily slotted into a set from Larry Levan. The B Side is something else again, with Mason's vocal's vocodered over a beat that lollops along on a freakish time signature that jerks and swaggers. It's as innovative as dance music should always aim to be, and a far cry from the 4/4 hegemony that rules today. 

Mason's comments on his surprise and pleasure at finding the tracks are pretty heartwarming and make the whole thing all the more appealing- 

"Following a sense of disbelief that I could have ever forgotten about this music, for me the first echo was recollection, a flood of memories. I had poured all of the passion I could muster into this music. I labored tirelessly and thoroughly loved what I was doing. I thought I was creating my future and that this was my big chance. My idealism is evident in the lyrics. The first echo carried with it a recollection of the process of making this music. The nights in the studio. The learning curve. The equipment I borrowed. The effort and the passion. The exhilaration of a young man’s immersion in an act of self actualization is difficult to put into words. I was making the music that I loved and was engaged in an act of ‘proving myself to the world’. As it turned out, the affirmation I was seeking would only arrive as an echo — as recognition and acceptance of “Rhythm of Life” built gradually over the decades”

 


James Mason - Dance of Life is available on 12" from here

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