The West End Story, Vol. 4

As the fourth volume of an excellent four-disc series, this album features several of the late-disco classics released by the New York label West End. Along with Prelude and Salsoul, West End represents one of the few disco labels that has endured over time as the poor commercial strains of disco eventually disappeared and the better records became hard-to-find anthems with a seemingly timeless allure. What makes this series so impressive is the fact that the songs thankfully appear in unedited, DJ-friendly form, quite often surpassing ten minutes in length. Furthermore, while the featured artists on West End -- Taana Gardner, Sparque, Raw Silk -- may not seem overly familiar or important in retrospect, the producers who helped shape these tracks into such timeless form -- Larry Levan, Tom Moulton, Francois Kevorkian -- have definitely become hallowed names in the history of electronic dance music as pioneering artists who helped bridge the gap between proto-disco and electronic dance music without ever falling into the generic pitfalls that plagued most disco producers. This volume in particular features some of the label's lesser known songs, but there are still some obvious highlights such as Sparque's "Take Some Time" and Sweet Life's "I Get Lifted." Overall, there aren't many low points on this album or with this album relative to others in the series, since practically everything West End released has consistent quality and enduring attributes. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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