Founded in 1996 by Peter Adarkwah, Barely Breaking Even (BBE Music) started life as a London club night, taking its name from the eponymous Disco record by the Universal Robot Band.
The label grew from the vibrant early 90's club scene with its first release, Stop & Listen compiled by Dr Bob Jones in 1996, opening the door to iconic series' such as All Back To Mine & Late Nite Tales.
A tonne of releases followed, ranging from Disco to Funk, Jazz to House. In the year 2000, the label celebrated Masters at Work's 10th Anniversary with a mighty box set that featured near 80 tracks.
A year later BBE Music spawned the Beat Generation Series of artist albums, notably introducing J Dilla (Welcome 2 Detroit) & a young Will.I.Am's first solo outing, alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff, Madlib & DJ Spinna, all of whom contributed to this seminal set of long players.
A quarter of a century and well over 500 titles later, having worked with Mark Ronson, Roy Ayers, Questlove, Hugh Masekela, DJ Premier, Dimitri from Paris, Joey Negro, Kon, RZA, Laurent Garnier, Black Coffee, DJ Shadow, David Rodigan and John Morales among many others, BBE Music looks to the future, celebrating its rich heritage while continuing to release a bounty of fresh titles.
The label's most recent projects include an expansive reissue series from pioneering Nigerian label Tabansi, new imprint 'Batakari' in association with Boddhi Satva and the critically acclaimed 'J Jazz' Japanese Jazz multi-album project, not to mention the recent landmark 500th label release: a brand new version of 'Barely Breaking Even', featuring Leroy Burgess, Patrick Adams and Louie Vega.
In 2021 BBE Music is celebrating its 25th anniversary. To mark this milestone, the label is offering up some special projects, from the 20th Anniversary edition of J Dilla's 'Welcome 2 Detroit', through David Bowie tribute album 'Modern Love', to a special new 'Worldwide' compilation from old friend Gilles Peterson. BBE Music will also be looking to the future with more exciting original artist projects, plus merch collaborations events and more...
Review: Louie Vega's cover of boogie-era disco classic 'Barely Breaking Even', which is created in cahoots with the two men most responsible for the early '80s original, Leroy Burgess and Patrick Adams, was a relatively faithful rendition. These high-profile remixes are naturally a little more revolutionary, though tastefully done and in keeping with the spirit of Vega and company's version. Ron Trent leads the way delivering a spacey, percussively detailed, and effortlessly soulful vocal remix and dub - the latter showcasing the high-quality musicianship of everyone involved - before Matthias Heilbronn takes over. Choose between full vocal and instrumental takes on the rubbery, disco-house style 'BKNY Mix', the rolling and sun-splashed 'Soulflower Mix' and his more faithful-to-the-original 'Remix'.
Review: BBE Music, DJ Amir and 180 Proof records present 'Creative Musicians, featuring remixes by Waajeed and Henrik Schwarz. Taken from the forthcoming new album 'Strata Records - The Sound of Detroit - Reimagined by Jazzanova'. The esteemed German producer enlists the rather Gil Scott-Heron sounding Sean Haefeli as vocalist on these sessions. Waajeed's remix of 'Creative Musicians' goes down a sublime, Detroit style hi-tech soul route, while Henrik Schwarz takes the track into emotive, late-night jazzy house territory. To give you proper context, they have included the much loved original version by the Lyman Woodard Organization.
Review: Here's something you won't want to miss: two killer jazz-funk cuts from the archives of Strata Records in Detroit, accompanied by fresh reworks from DJ Amir and DJ Dez Andres (of Slum Village and Mahogani Music fame). Amir handles Maulawi's deliciuously percussive, off-kilter party jam 'Street Rap', turning it into a locked-in chunk of organic deep house full of flanged electric piano keys, fuzzy Clavinet bass, whistles and party atmosphere. Fittingly, Andres reworks Fito Foster's Latin jam 'Salsa', a track that his father played percussion on. His version, which features keys from pal Amp Fiddler, is a bouncy Latin house explosion laden with spacey synths, warming bass and tons of extra percussion. Ace!
Review: DJ Cam & sommelier Fr?d?ric Beneix present Wine4Melomanes, an eclectic and unique compilation and album concept that matches fine wines with music of the same year. Connecting the complexity, sensuality, liveliness and other mouthfuls with the harmony, orchestration, rhythm and melody of a song, Wine4Melomanes tours France, Germany, Holland, the USA and even Slovakia in search of some fine musical flavours. Taking in jazz, pop-rock and '70s blues through to more contemporary affairs, highlights include the ragtime jazz funk of Siegfried Kessler & Serge Bringolf to some organic lounge time numbers from The Mike Nock Underground and The Larry Rose Band. Like a fine wine, obviously.
Review: Once known as the Reverend Cleatus & The Soul Saviors, The Fantastics! are a soul, funk, jazz and lounge time collective outta the UK. Having debuted on BBE with their Take A Shot single, the group fully arrive with their debut LP of the same name. Featuring vocals from soul sensation Sulene Fleming, who features across four of the album's 10 tracks, instrumental highlights include the skippy and light hearted broken beats of "Oblique" next to cooler jazz and brass sections of "Pyramid". Sultrier numbers come out of "St Tropez Blue" with Mark Norton's saxophone taking over next to more rocky numbers like "The Bounce" and the full on, nutbush city limits stomping jam, "Can't Decide". Quality all round.
Review: For the first time since its original release in 2007, BBE Music reissues the instrumental versions of DJ Vadim's known and loved album, The Soundcatcher. Unpredictable with touches of disco and King Tubby-esque dub - to a concoction of other genres varied with brushes of blues, soul and rap, urban grime - you're never far off straight up funk or slow-mo, broken beat either. With epic piano rolls of Blaxploitation funk hitting the right spots in "Countdown", get your more modern two stepping numbers outta "Ballistic Affairs". With subtle exotic ispiratiations making into numbers like "Them Say" and "Like The Wind", don't sleep on the downtown blues of Soundcatchers, and the mutant beat centric cut ups of "Warp BT". Full of old school flavours too, the vinyl crackle, dusty samples and pop of DJ Vadim has never sounded so fresh.
Review: This suite of reworks of SunPalace's much-admired early '80s jazz-funk obscurity 'Rude Movements' may well be the biggest remix package we've ever seen, thoagh it should be noted that many of the reworks are available in short and extended takes. Either way, there's much to enjoy, from the warming, solo-laden deep house brilliance of Moodymann's revisions and the sparkling, kaleidoscopic Opolopo takes (proper dancefloor jazz-funk for house-heads), to the 11-minute, synth-heavy bliss of Francois K's SATS Dub Extended Version and the sun-drenched Latin house of Frankie Feliciano's delicious rework. Elsewhere, the 'Atmosphere' mix is a starry ambient delight and Kenny Dope's various revisions boast the toughest, bounciest percussion programming.
Review: Way back in 1997 record collector, DJ and music writer, Jasper The Vinyl Junkie, curated BBE Music's second ever release: Stop & Listen Vol. II. With BBE celebrating 25 years in the game the label goes back to its roots by inviting JJ for another West end jazz beat special. With rarities and never before heard gems now cut for digital, Vinyl Junkie Thangs calls up all-time music heroes like Fred Wesley, The Fatback Band and DTrain's Hubert Eaves alongside lesser known artists like Exile One, Ashantis and Funkshone with "Spiritual Interlude II (The Heist)" a particular highlight. Featuring curious other Jasper joints from Basement Freaks, OPOLOPO, Jkriv & Free Magic and Mr Scruff, it ain't always a vinyl thang.
Review: There's certainly no faulting the remix VFM on this BBE EP, whose two tracks are served up in no fewer than nine different rubs. 'Good People' sits somewhere between 'new old' soul, acid jazz and early 90s street soul in its original form, but it's the funkier reworkings from Montaque Adamson that are likely to pick up the most plays on floors that also rock to the likes of The Dap Kings, Haggis Horns, Lack Of Afro, Smoove & Turrell et al. 'Mother Funkin' Robots', meanwhile, is served up in three variations on a fairly self-explanatory 'Bossy Nova' theme - Latin beats and raw soul vox ahoy!
The Cinematic Orchestra - "Exit Music (For A Film)" - (7:20) 154 BPM
Review: Originally released in 2006 as a Radiohead tribute album - Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads returns to its original home at BBE Music. Highlighted artists across this compilation to cover Thom Yorke songs include Mark Ronson, Pete Kuzma, Alex Greenwald (of Phantom Planet) to Sia, Matthew Herbert and Sa-Ra - not to forget The Cinematic Orchestra, Osunlade and RJD2! And not to overlook curios from before, check out the cosmic fusion of The Randy Watson Experience's take of "Morning Bell", Shawn Lee's beaty remake of "No Surprises" to Wajeed's broken beat rendition of "Knives Out". Classic covers.