Electronic thrush Billie Ray Martin first came to my attention when I spied the iconic video for Electribe 101’s brilliant “Talking With Myself” on MTV in some rare airing of the clip on some international program. I immediately ran out and bought “Electribal Memories” and had my first evidence that house music wouldn’t always be boring. The album was a classic but the band fissured before the followup could occur. But not before I began soaking up everything with the Electribe 101 name on it.
Years later, singer Billie Ray Martin’s solo album “Deadline For My Memories” proved to be an even greater artistic success as she effectively managed to unite the disparate aesthetic approaches of “Dusty In Memphis” with that of Kraftwerk and when you hear house beats with pedal steel accompanying the fearless soul that emits from her lips, you know that she has achieved her seemingly impossible goal …with aplomb. That “Your Loving Arms” became a hit single and dance standard was some sort of cosmic justice. At this point I realized that this singer was an artist of the highest order. I’ve bought white labels and downloads and one day I need to save up a large amount of money and gleefully fall down the rabbit hold of her complete back catalog, but for now, this new single pack, to be released in a month in the usual places, will suffice to be happy-making.
The song, if you recognize it, is a cover of the dark Aleister Crowley-referenceing track from Bowie’s impenetrable “The Man Who Sold The World” album. BRM has kept the varispeed “Oh by Jingo” refrain from the original, but the rest of the music bed is a is a dryly delicious spectral house version of this song by collaborator Abdullah Al-Wali [Dark Storm] that manages to bring it forward into the 21st century, where it belongs. Her chorale of multi tracked backing vocals are beyond superb. It’s yet another winner [there are no losers] from the finest voice of her generation. Pre-order on Bandcamp here for far less than it’s worth. They offer FLAC format and the ability to tip the artist [a hint]. Three downtempo Chicago house remixes are also included in the bundle to help cool those steamy Berlin nights this summer.
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