1. Relax (Steve Gray)
2. Warm (Steve Gray)
3. Let’s Go Slow (David Gold)
4. Topless (Jean Bouchety)
5. Premier Amour (Jean Bouchety)
6. Woman’s World (Ron Aspery)
7. Belair (Ron Aspery)
8. Soft Dream (Trevor Bastow)
9. Pink Parasol (Trevor Bastow)
10. Shades (Trevor Bastow)
11. Take It Steady (David Lindup)
12. Beverley Hills (Steve Gray)
13. Up In The Clouds (Steve Gray)
14. Mellow Thoughts (Steve Gray)
15. Fashion Fair (David Snell)
Source: Vinyl LP
Format V0 VBR MP3 (FLAC lossless available; leave a comment if you’re interested)
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Let’s get it out of the way: Track #12 is the only reason this collection of songs, some many might write off as “muzak”, is so coveted; it served most famously as the basis of Gang Starr’s “Deadly Habitz” (and since DJ Premier cleared that sample and it was clearly listed in the liner notes to The Ownerz, I feel comfortable enough typing that here). Though, after review — “Beverley Hills” may not be the real highlight.
Bruton, based out of London, is one of the premier providers of stock music: incidentals you might hear on a radio advertisment, or in a television program, or whatever. Their name is not generally known to the public, and neither are their promotional records, but to the legions of cratediggers, who have found these second hand, they have become a bit of a goldmine. Like everything once the Internet became more integrated in the flow of information, the cat got let out of the bag, and their reputation has certainly grown as a result.
The music you would find on a Bruton collection could range from the funky, to the suspenseful, to the relaxing — depending on the theme established in whichever collection. With Relax, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Many of these songs are mellow (some may say a little too mellow), light-hearted, easy listening. However, not all the songs here are toothless. In fact, for as short as they are, many of them are deceptively slick. The titular opener, and “Warm”, a reprise that follows (per the description on the back of the outer sleeve, this might have been a mispressing on Bruton’s part), is one of these songs. While the general mood may suggest opiates in musical form, there are some interesting plays that catch the ear.
The most striking section of this record (and the one that made this record an impulse buy), are the three Trevor Bastow pieces that start the second side of the disc, beginning with “Soft Dream”. The first few notes transported me to my humble Western New York beginnings, in a world where Malaise Era automobiles roamed the world, and everything shut down at 9:00PM, if not earlier. “Shades”, more than any other record on this bit, while still mellow, is this collection’s most funky offering, courtesy of the killer lead synth and the understated snap bass on the bottom end. For some odd reason, “Topless”, composed by Jean Bouchety sounds an awful lot like Stanley Clarke’s “Quiet Afternoon”, were it infused with a just a tiny bit of comedic sleaziness.
Besides jazz, R&B and the music of yesteryear, film scores have often been a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine; though some pieces may not have the same challenge or fierce execution as music recorded for purely commercial purposes, often, they serve as an effective summation of the times in which they were recorded. Relax is no different; it’s totally of the 1970s-1980s cusp, both in production value and in the style of composition. It’s also one of those records that you’ll seek for one track, but stay for the rest.