It’s tough to make a great mix tape. Great mix tapes require knowledge and thoughtfulness and love. You need to dig deep, not only into the crate but into what you know about the person who’ll be listening. The flow of the mix is important, but so is the selection of songs and artists and genres. When you make a mix tape, your goal isn’t simply to make something your friend will love listening to; it’s also to tell a story.
Good Times is like hearing a musical story from a knowledgeable and thoughtful and loving friend.
I came into the first volume of Good Times expecting a deep house mix along the lines of Norman Jay’s Journeys by DJ. The first three tracks delivered exactly what I was expecting, a joyous collection of rare soul and disco. Then on track 4, the Jays take their first surprise right-turn and throw in an amazing disco re-creation of Gershwin’s “Summertime.” (Those are some words I never thought I’d write!) From there, they go into a steel drum version of the Mission Impossible theme by Byron Lee and the Dragonairs that’s just nuts (in a good way). This flows into John Holt’s rocksteady classic, “Ali Baba,” which smoothly leads into “Prophecy,” Fabian Miranda’s reggae call for social justice.
And here is the next right-turn, as Fabian’s protest song leads into the one-two punch of a very different kind of protest song: Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without a Pause” and KRS-One’s “Sound of da Police.”
As Marcia Griffiths opens the next song by telling us she feels like jumping and shouting out, I’m right there with her. My blood is pumping and I’m ready to jump up and shout. Nothing in this mix should work, but the Jay brothers found a common thread through the songs on these discs. They bring thought and knowledge and love, which makes it feel like a mix tape from a good friend. I’m not sure I can pay a higher compliment to a compilation record.
(This is long out-of-print and only a few tracks are on the streaming sites, so you’ll have to hunt to hear this one. It’s worth it, though, and the liner notes are a bonus.)
Released: September 12, 2000