We took a journey through ICE Records catalog and imagined the tracks that would turn a modern dance floor upside down if given new life.
While some people believe that it is enough to spend hundreds or thousands euros on a record to make the difference when it comes to being a collector or when playing a set, it is true that bangers can be found in every catalog if one scratches its surface and digs a little deeper. Another truth is that this is the age of reissues and compilations, that are the perfect occasion – when curated with passion and in depth – for who does not live from digging records to discover forgotten musical treasures and the context they were created in. This could be a case for ICE Records, a Caribbean label that has many hidden danceable gems in their mostly Soca and Calypso catalog.
For who follows this website, it is not a mystery that we especially like dancefloor-friendly music. This to say that there’s one thing that gets us overexcited: when we find bangers in labels that are by definition not oriented to the modern dancefloor.
This post is about the most enjoyable tracks – at least to our taste – that we found digging through the ICE Records catalog. We imagined them as being part of a reissue compilation full of dancefloor killers.
Some story about ICE Records and its founder Eddy Grant
ICE Records is a label founded by Eddy Grant and based in Barbados. According to the trustworthy Wikipedia, the label claims to own the world’s largest number of Caribbean music. Historically, music in the Caribbean always enjoyed the influence from many areas of the planet earth, mostly thanks to the descendants of the African slaves who lived on the islands.
‘Ringbang’ as the catalyst of the Caribbean culture
The news is Eddy Grant’s intention to catalyze all the influences into a new genre that himself named Ringbang. On his personal website Ringbang is defined as “a bridge between rhythms, focusing one’s attention on rhythm and the part it plays internationally. What Ringbang seeks to do is envelop all the rhythms that have originated from Africa so that they become one, defying all geographical boundaries.” It looks like Ringbang was theorized to stimulate people from the caribbean to find a renovated pride in their roots and their legacy, both musical and, in a broader sense, cultural.
Even if the Ringbang principles of synthesis do not seem to be prominent in most of the ICE Records output, which focuses mostly on pure Soca and Calypso, or some times on Reggae, we find that the tracks we have selected are often so good because they manage to create a perfect synthesis between the influences that Ringbang claims to draw from.
Many of the tracks that you can read and listen about below feature the name of Eddy Grant in their credits, either as a musician or producer, or simply as the label’s owner, but it is clear that his musical experience are an added value. Let’s not forget that Grant reached the first position in the UK charts twice, once with ‘Living on The Frontline’ (1979) and once with ‘I Don’t Wanna Dance’ (1982), and that his song Gimme Hope Jo’anna, written for Nelson Mandela, was adopted as one of the South African Apartheid anthems. This is something that we value a lot, because it is the proof that dancing can be, in some of his forms, a political act..
What made us choose these songs over others from the juicy ICE Records catalog is a watermark we sensed in the tracks production – the combination of raw synth lines with meticulous rhythmic patterns, groovy basslines against the tropical freshness.
Smash Disco Hits on ICE
An attempt to compile ICE Records ‘Disco’ hits was already done in 1979 in Nigeria, where the compilation Various – Smash Disco Hits On ICE was released. Maybe 1979 was to early, mostly because the 80s still didn’t happen back then. But in our ideal compilation, these would be the tracks.
The Antilles – Let’s Shake (1982)
This is the first ICE Records song that we ran into on a dusty shelf and that made us decide to dig further. The Antilles were a group formed by many top-notch musicians, including Alpine Grant, one of Eddy’s brothers. Seems like they released only a self-titled album in 1982 that every dance music lover should have in their collection. This song has a disco-funk arrangement with a rich bass line, a catchy guitar riff and some Fender Rhodes sounds. The falsetto vocals add the perfect extra lust to make it a timeless banger.
Eddy Grant – My Turn To Love You (1983)
Catchy guitar riffs with a rich woodwinds section and finally echoed violins that make it a perfect disco track.
The Frontline Orchestra – Don’t Turn Your Back On Me (1981)
Only track under this alias by keyboardist and producer Tony Edmunds. Not much info on Tony, except that he’s also known as Tony ‘Zap’ Edmunds, and that he collaborated on many other songs by Eddy Grant, such as ‘Just Imagine I’m Loving You’ or ‘Use It Or Lose It’. The songs he played, as well as any other reference that can be found about him, clearly show that his production was mostly Reggae and Soca. ‘Don’t Turn Your Back On Me’ makes us wish he recorded more dancefloor-oriented music. The song was also remixed by master Larry Levan in 1982.
Coach House Rhythm Section – No Such Thing (Instrumental) (1980)
‘No Such Thing’ has a clearly dub rhythm, but the loopy synth that plays throughout the song with its wah-wah effect is “DAMN!”-catchy. The violins are the “icing” on the cake, completing a perfectly dreamy tune when paired with the guitar riff and the congas. Coach House Rhythm Section is an alias of Eddy Grant, after his recording studios located at Stamford Hill, London. Two songs were released under this alias, and they are both pure fire. This one was released as a B-Side of ‘Stormy Weather’ by Atlantis People. We could not retrieve any sample of the A side, but we are more than happy to stop at this wonderful B-Side.
Marco – I’m Coming Home (1975)
A slower and vocal version of ‘No Such Thing’ by Coach House Rhythm Section. This one released on Torpedo Records in the UK. The cheapest copy at the time of writing is being sold for 89€. ‘Marco Music LTD’ appears on many records by Eddy Grant, the alias may be taken from there.
Coach House Rhythm Section – Time Warp (1980)
A Paradise Garage Classic and instrumental B-Side to ‘Nobody’s Got Time’, this track was also released under Eddy Grant’s name as a B-Side to ‘Can’t Get Enough of You’. The loopy construction and the synth sound that pans from one ear to the other, combined with the The lack of lyrics, create a trippy atmosphere. There are diva vocals (“tu-tu-tu-tu-turu-rutu”) that appear here and there create a happy atmosphere that is in contrast with the general sense of darkness inspired by the bass line and the synths. This track is definitely fit for the modern dance floor. Apparently, Gorillaz also noticed, so that they used the same synth pattern in their song ‘Stylo’ and were threatened of legal action.
The Antilles – I’ve Got To Have You (1982)
Another funk groove from The Antilles, this is the opening track to the album and has an happier and more boogie structure. The conversation between the bass line and the brass section is simply amazing. ‘I’ve Got To Have You’ is also the only other single taken from their homonymous album.
Carl & Carol Jacobs – What Is Life (1987)
Released in 1987, this song is the perfect example of how Soca music absorbed and interpreted the 80s sound. Just listen and you’ll know.
Blue Wave Orchestra feat. The Blue Waves – She’s No Good (Crucial Mix) (198?)
A catchy boogie track that is likely from the 80s but whose release information was hard to retrieve. We have to admit that ICE Records did a really bad job at organizing their catalog. Somebody says this is the best Eddy Grant’s production.
Tony Morgan & The Mussel Power Band – Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys (1972)
Groovy funk in straight 4/4. The song interrogates about what will happen once all races and cultures are mixed together. It is actually a cover of an original song by The Equals, still produced by Eddy Grant. This track would make the perfect for a “come-together” moment and could turn every dance floor upside down.
Carl & Carol Jacobs – Savage (Instrumental) (1987)
The vocal version is a soca masterpiece has “Caribbean” written all over the track. The instrumental version strips the original of the more soca elements and leaves a pure tribal rhythm with percussions and whistles along with the bassline, while the vocal part is split and recomposed as it was played live with a sample pad.
Eddy Grant – Sunshine Jam (1978)
Strictly rhythm. An instrumental version of the famous ‘Walking on Sunshine’. Loopy riff that focuses more on the “space invaders” sounds found in the vocal version, played over and over like an improvisation, and then a guitar riff, replacing the woodwinds found in the original, comes in to complete the job.
Did this article make you want more ICE Records? While we cross fingers and hope for this tracks to find a place on a new compilation and on dance floors around the world, we got you covered by creating a YouTube Playlist.
Curious about other very cool labels? Check out our other SUPER LABELS articles.