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Walter Gibbons - Mixed With Love 
While not a name that immediately comes to mind when thinking about disco's legendary DJs/mixers, Walter Gibbons may well have been the most influential of the early disco era.  Funkier than Francis Grasso, more innovative than Tom Moulton, and more experienced than Larry Levan, it was Gibbons who first made the transition from the dj booth to the studio.

Working out of a string of tiny underground clubs, Gibbons perfected the quick mix technique with an emphasis on monster drum breaks.  Using Jermaine Jackson's "Erucu" as an early signature record, Gibbons would loop the breaks over and over to build audience anticipation and assert the primacy of rhythm.  It wasn't long until Gibbons became the DJ that other DJs looked forward to hearing.

Salsoul owner Joe Cayre caught wind of Gibbons' popularity and invited him to remix the debut single of Double Exposure.  Transforming a 3 minute song into a disco odyssey that stretched over nine minutes, Gibbons' mix of "Ten Percent" proved so popular that it was the first commericially available 12" single.  Pretty soon, he was the official Salsoul remixer, serving up radical reworkings of cuts by the Salsoul Orchestra, First Choice, and Loleatta Holloway.  While in many cases the artists and original producers were horrified by his deconstructions, the massive popularity his touch bestowed upon records often made them bigger hits than the original versions, earning their grudging respect.

Although Gibbons continued remixing through the 1980s, most notably for Strafe ("Set It Off") and Arthur Russell, his most productive years were the 1976-79 era that is covered by Mixed With Love.  Three discs chock full of Gibbons at his best, the set list reads like a roll call of classics: "Hit And Run," "Just As Long As I've Got You," "Let No Man Put Asunder."  If there is any doubt about what makes these songs timeless, one listen to the rolling breakdowns of "Catch Me On The Rebound" make it clear that it's all about drums for days.

As if the tunes weren't enough of a selling point, Mixed With Love comes with exhaustive notes detailing Gibbons' background, uncompromising personality, and tragic death from AIDS.  It is a fascinating look into a mysterious figure whose legacy continues to set a standard unmatched for innovation, integrity, and downright funkiness. 
 

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