Various Artists

The West End Story, Vol. 1

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As the first volume of an excellent four-disc series, this album features several of the late-disco classics released by the New York label West End. Along with Prelude and Salsoul, West End represents one of the few disco labels that endured over time as the poor commercial strains of disco eventually disappeared and the better records became hard-to-find anthems with a seemingly timeless allure. What makes this series so impressive is the fact that the songs thankfully appear in unedited, DJ-friendly form, quite often surpassing ten minutes in length. Furthermore, while the featured artists on West End -- Taana Gardner, Sparque, Raw Silk -- may not seem overly familiar or important in retrospect, the producers who helped shape these tracks into such timeless form -- Larry Levan, Tom Moulton, Francois Kevorkian -- have definitely become hallowed names in the history of electronic dance music as pioneering artists who helped bridge the gap between proto-disco and electronic dance music without ever falling into the generic pitfalls that plagued most disco producers. This volume in particular features many of the label's early releases and is highlighted by Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat," arguably the label's most well-known hit, along with Brenda Taylor's "You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It Too," another track that has aged well. Overall, there aren't many weak moments on this album or with this album relative to others in the series, since practically everything West End released has enduring quality attributes.

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