Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Journey Into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story [Rhino, 2006]
Though disco was supposedly an underground, minor-label phenomenon, Rhino's corporate muscle is what makes this two-and-a-half hour mix the most successful attempt to evoke the mythic vibe of the great DJ's Soho dance haven. Fifteen of the 22 tracks originated with WEA, including a few that provide songful relief from the cult hits of divas-in-waiting--Yaz's "Situation," Womack & Womack's "Baby I'm Scared of You," and a weirded-up Nile Rodgers remix of Sister Sledge's "Lost in Music." But mostly it showcases the ambient abandon and steady-state serial orgasm of 12-inch singles often fashioned by Levan himself, cutting extravagrant orchestration with spare percussion and breaks he could protract to infinity if the mood was on him. Not really infinity, of course--not here, and not at the Paradise Garage either. The sun always did come up. And Levan died in 1992. A-