The Wag Club is one of those hotspots that seems to crop up quite a lot the more you delve into Uk club culture, the kind of fucked up gaff that epitmoised what happened in the spots that lurk between the disco and acid house booms. We’re massive fans of the early eighties as a brilliant period in music that seemed to create a lot of unfinished genres; post punk, proto house, earl electro and primitive hip hop all examples of stuff that sounded all the better for the fact it was raw and unpolished. This compilation is a hefty four disc collection that manages to encapsulate a lot of the ideas that punctuated that era, the soundtrack to what was no doubt an amazing rave before we knew what raving was.

This, crucially, isn’t just music from that time. The first disc is eighteen tracks of proper gutsy black music, Esther Phillips’ epic cover of Gil Scott Heron’s ‘Home is where the hatred is’ and the man’s own version of ’17th Street’ two examples of how dark that decade was. Gwen Mcrae’s ‘All This Love I’m Giving’ proves it isn’t all grim though, and the gilt edged grooves on James Brown’s ‘The Boss’, Aaron Neville’s ‘Hercules’ and Fatback Band’s ‘Wicky Wacky’ still get asses wiggling forty years on. This CD alone is worthy of five stars, but it’s just a quarter of the goodness on offer.

Across the other three discs there’s gem upon gem. Hip hop crops up with Herbie Hancock’s scratch pioneering ‘Rockit’ and Digital Underground’s ‘The Humpty Dance’, the latter a record far too readily overlooked as seminal (it really is). Obvious disco cuts such as Cerrone’s ‘Supernature’ and Undisputed Truth’s ‘You + Me = Love’ are there alongside the jazzy noir of Rahsaan Roland Kirk ‘Making love after hours’ and the latin big band of ‘Mambo Show’ by Charlie Palmieri. Put simply it’s an exhaustive ensemble of what on this evidence was one heck of a club. Both diggers and beginners will find reward for getting involved, this is an epic history lesson in both the UK’s counter culture scene and popular music.

5/5

Reviewed by: Autocycle