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ESG - A South Bronx Story torrent
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The four Scroggins sisters (Renee, Deborah, Valerie, and Marie) and neighbor Tito Libran burst on to the music scene from left field in 1981 with the remarkable success of "UFO" and "Moody" off their debut 12-inch record. Thanks to the ascendance of hip-hop, the South Bronx was very much on the musical map at the time. But ESG's minimalist funk, which featured live instruments, was closer in spirit to what was coming out of the U.K. at the time--PiL, Gang of Four, and the Factory label (which released ESG's first three songs). Their approach also had kinship to New York bands Konk, Bush Tetras, and Liquid Liquid (the latter two would become their label-mates on the semi-legendary 99 Records). "Moody" entered permanent rotation at New York dance clubs such as the Paradise Garage, while "UFO" became a hip-hop building block, used as sample material for at least a dozen other records (and still counting). The appeal of the tracks lay in the taut interaction between Deborah and Valerie's bass and drums, abetted by Marie and Tito's congas as well as Renee's sparse but precise guitar and unadorned vocal style. The stripped-down nature of the sound lent itself to hip-hop producers' layering on top of it and has helped the music successfully weather the intervening decades--there's none of that "What were they thinking with that synthesizer sound?" problem that afflicts some early '80s music. The CD includes much of their 99 Records output and tracks from their self-titled 1991 release on the Pow Wow label. The 99 Records label itself went down in legal flames, and that Renee Scroggins' apparently owns the rights to the music is noteworthy in itself. But the historical significance and sheer listenability of the music make this a most welcome reissue. --Bob Bannister