[21 April 2008]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
San Francisco’s Miguel “Migs” Steward has got the funk way down in his boogie shoes. Having been a player in the scene since the late ‘90s, he has successfully separated himself from the banal average of button pushing funky house knob twiddlers by bolstering his creations with a choice selection of live instruments. Thus, he is often closer to authentic disco than the usual sample happy pack. The Those Things album—last year’s long awaited follow-up to his 2002 debut—went one step further by throwing some rap and reggae influence in there, featuring collaborations with Sadat X and Black Uhuru’s Junior Reid. As a producer, Migs has both talent and class.
With all the praise in check, Those Things is well deserving of a remix treatment. Oddly enough, on the whole, these reimaginings actually accentuate more organic sounds than the originals. The album version of “Fire” with Junior Reid was cut from the same keyboard heavy ‘80s dub cloth as Eddie Grant, while Faze Action’s re-rub included here jives the track more in line with the afrobeat spawn of Fela Kuti (namely the likes of Nickodemus and Quantic). Likewise, Cottonbelly’s take on “Fire” places the track more in context with classic funk, basing it around a tasty bassline and letting Reid’s vocals remain front and center. The Simon Grey Phase II mix of the Lisa Shaw assisted title track is fantastically inspired, landing Jamiroquai flavour in Steve Wonder territory. By all rights, if you liked Those Things, you will love them remixed, and this is coming from a guy who typically finds most funky house as appealing as ticks.