First Listen: Quentin Harris feat. Robert Owens – Always (Kaje Trackheadz Remix) (Trackheadz)
A quick look at the definition of “timeless”, and you’re gonna get something like this… a: not restricted to a particular time or date. b: having no beginning or end: eternal. As many words we could pretty well associate with “always”, as a matter of fact. And if Quentin Harris & Robert Owens‘ 2006 original version of ‘Always’ deserved the check back at the time, this ‘Always’ reworked by Trackheadz has nothing to envy its predecessor… Thus resurfacing with a rougher edge over a sharp rhythmic part, and, by that, an irresistible energetic feel, even though deepness remains around the bend.
Somehow reminding of Mr Dont’s ‘A Little Peace’ released earlier on this year on the same label. Although in a slightly smoother vein. The magic of House Music!
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– The first time I came to cross the path of Quentin Harris was at some Underground party in Miami, FL during the Winter Music Conference. I think it was Slaag Records doin’ it in association with some other label. The floor was packed and then, behind the decks, a DJ was litteraly magnetising the crowd with the music he was playing. Enough to tickle my curiosity and try to get to know more about him.
A native of Detroit, MI, Quentin Harris unsurprisingly first got into R&B and Hip-Hop. With this being for much in his obsession for the groove. Thus quoting luminaries like Prince, Parliament/Funkadelic, James Brown as definitive references.
The unique gift he has as a DJ is something one definitely can find in the music he’s been producing or remixing. Meanwhile comin’ up with an instantly identifiable even though he’s never been into willin’ to establish a formula. And, by that, riskin’ feel under the threat of being emprisoned.
The first traces we can find of him bring us back to 2003 and his seminal remix of Donnie‘s ‘Cloud 9’. Thus opening an impressive series of one of a kind reworks. From Sting‘s ‘Send Your Love’ to Lathun feat. India Arie‘s ‘When Love Came In’. Eventually boosting Patti LaBelle‘s ‘New Day’ and Alicia Key‘s ‘Diary’. If not Jill Scott‘s ‘Golden’ or Beyoncé‘s ‘Déja Vu’ among others. Meanwhile 2004 would see him delivering his first production. This while joinin’ forces with Cordell McClary on ‘Traveling’ for ‘Space Kat Records.
From then, Harris established his name among the most in-demand ones. Soon after strenghtening his position on ‘Always’, featuring Robert Owens. But also retouching ‘Spritual Life’ for Steal Vybe featuring Rich Medina. Then sharing the bill with Monique Bingham on the socially conscious ‘Poor People’ in 2006. Not to mention the delivery of his debut-album – ‘No Politics’ – on Japanese label Canyon International.
The following year seeing him jamming along with the one and only Margaret Grace on ‘My Joy’. Then reworking the vibrant ‘We Are Lonely’ for Studio Apartment in 2008 and going progressive along with Jennifer Hudson on the energetic ‘Spotlight’. This before sharing the bill with Ultra Naté on ‘Give It 2 U’ and releasing his second album by the likes of ‘Sac•ri•fice’ two years later.
More recently, he joined David Morales as a member of Def Mix. Eventually releasing the firing ‘Stronger’ featuring Jason Walker on the label. Meanwhile 2017 saw him makin’ his debut as Black Stereo Faith along with Ultra Naté with a self-titled album.
“I’ve always been into Gospel voices. Robert had a religious background, although his sound was an exception to the rule for me. It didn’t come instantly though. As a matter of fact, Robert is like a wild horse. Unless you put up margins for him, he never can sing the same line the same way twice. I had to constantly sort of reframe him…” (Frankie Knuckles)
Here we have a statement that pretty much speaks for itself. And this by no one else but the one remembered as the Godfather Of House. Quite evocative of the inner strength/voice which had led Robert Owens to deliver some of the most vibrant vocal performances one can think of. Among those very rare to have stood the test of time. Being to the Chicago (House) scene what Arnold Jarvis happened to be to its NYC alter ego. And more widely being to House what Omar has become to the contemporary groove. With thanks to their unique voices and an undeniable eclectism…
A quick look at Robert Owens‘ discography (on Discogs) says it all. Or almost, as chances are great they may not have listed his entire repertoire. What we can read though is an inventory of 5 albums and 100+ singles. And, in the meantime, the fact that he’s been collaborating with some of the most talented producers since the second half of the 80’s.
As you may guess, Robert Owens grew up singin’ in church before exploring the facets of DJing. Eventually meeting Larry Heard by the middle of the 80’s. This resulting in the twosome givin’ birth to Fingers Inc. along with Ronnie Wilson. And subsequently releasing ‘Another Side’ back in 1988 on Jack Trax. A mythic album featuring timeless jewels such as ‘Mystery Of Love’, ‘Bring Down The Walls’ and ‘Mystery Friend’ to name a few.
Owens eventually engaged the upper gear the year after. This when joinin’ forces with Frankie Knuckles and a then unknown Satoshi Tomiie on the seminal ‘Tears’ (FFRR). Then makin’ his debut on Fourth & Broadway in 1990 with the abyssal ‘Visions’ co-produced by Frankie Knuckles and David Morales. The latter crafting on his own this time the syncopated ‘I’ll Be Your Friend’ which got released the year after on RCA.
He contributed to the recording of Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers)’s ‘Introduction’ album in 1992 on MCA. That same year seeing the release of the insanely vibrant ‘Too Much For Me’ without his consent. Launching his Musical Directions imprint while relocating in London, he delivered ‘Ordinary People’ with remixes courtesy of Booker T two years later. Eventually sharin’ the bill the year after with Michael Watford on the Marshall Jefferson produced ‘Come Together’…
In 2000, he landed his voice on Photek‘s blowing ‘Mine To Give’ with remix work by the likes of David Morales. Eventually colloaborating with other junglists – London Elektricity – with whom he released ‘My Dreams’ and ‘Different Drum’.
With Quentin Harris, he did ‘Always’ and soon after he came along with Coldcut on the abyssal ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’. He contributed to Atjazz‘s syncopated ‘Love Someone’ in 2007. Then he teamed up with Ron Trent on ‘Movin’ On’ then ‘Deep Down’. Meanwhile 2007 saw him sharing the bill with Gene Hunt on ‘Twilite People’. Then 2010 with DJ Spen on the deeply heartfelt ‘A Greater Love’.
He contributed more recently to Ralf GUM‘s ‘Fly Free’ (2013). And he also joined US Nu-Disco gurus Soul Clap on ‘Misty’ the year after. Not to mention Kenny Dope with whom he shared the bill that same year on ‘Bricks Down’. Or Compost Allstars (Beanfield, Christian Prommer, Roland Appel and Michael Reinboth) on ‘Good Day’. This in addition to Martello‘s ‘In The Beginning There Was House’ and Oscar P‘s ‘Thank You’ which we both welcomed as our Single Of The Week at the time.
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