By John Pellegrini
Ever wonder whom the composers are that make the music for production music libraries? Over the years I’ve discovered something that is quite vital for us radio prod people when it comes to auditioning production libraries: the less the library company says about their composers, the less I’m going to like what I hear. Kind of makes you think that no one involved with putting the library together wants to take responsibility for the music.
Not so with FirstCom. They always tell you right up front who their composers are and what they’ve done. And nowhere have they pushed this more than with their newest offering, Connect. Actually, our UK and European RAP readers already know about Connect. It was founded back in 1995 in the UK and became so popular that FirstCom entered into an agreement with them to distribute the library worldwide.
Connect’s founder is Barry Blue, and while that name may not be familiar to you, his work is famous worldwide. The bio on him reads like a roster of some of the most famous names in British music. By the time he turned 14, Barry had already written his first hit song for Gene Pitney. At 16 he joined Uriah Heep as a bass player. He worked for the Bee Gees’ publishing company; he produced Heatwave, the disco band that had hits with Boogie Nights, Always and Forever, and Grooveline. He’s written songs for Bananarama, Diana Ross, Celine Dion, and had a huge dance club hit, “Afrodizziact” under his alter ego “Cry Sisco.” Other writers on the Connect roster have composed songs for people like Cher, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bill Wyman, Tina Turner, Roger Waters, Mike Oldfield, Bryan Ferry, and numerous others.
With a lineup like that you’d expect some pretty astounding stuff in this library, and that is exactly what you get. The entire Connect library is 40 discs (more coming) featuring collections entitled “In Yer Face,” “Dance Daze,” “Catwalk,” and “Club Del Mar.” For this review, FirstCom sent 8 discs, three from In Yer Face, Two from Dance Daze, two from Club Del Mar, and one from Catwalk. All of the discs have full length versions of the main tracks (two to three and a half minutes average), a :59 version, a :29 version, and a :10 version. Some also have beat mixouts plus 15 and 20 second versions. I’ll give you a brief overview of each collection.
“In Yer Face” describes itself as “hard hitting youth culture,” which in this case means it’s the kind of stuff that makes everyone want to get off their chairs and go nuts on the dance floor. Not that all the tracks are fast-paced; there is a great variety of tempos here, but they all sound like something you’ve heard recently in clubs, or on those hard hitting sports shows. For example, “In Yer Face 1” has a track entitled “Plane Spotting” which sounds a bit like that famous punk anthem of a British movie that has a similar title, while “Cosmic High” has the feel of a famous Irish rock group, while yet another track entitled “Prodigal Son” sounds like something I heard blasting out of a dance club just the other night. “In Yer Face 2” has a track that sounds like surf music on steroids as well as other guitar group styles, yet also has tracks that hit the techno dance styles hard between the eyes. “In Yer Face 3” continues the sonic onslaught quite well including a rave style techno track with what sounds like a bagpipe solo at the end, though I kind of wish the bagpipes had gone through the entire track. But that’s my sense of taste.
“Catwalk” is the kind of music you’d expect to hear accompanying the models on the runways of the hot designer fashion shows —the stuff Versace, Victoria’s Secret, and the rest are always using. You could even picture these selections blasting off some millionaire’s yacht in the harbor of Monte Carlo in Monaco. Very Mediterranean techno.
“Club Del Mar” is the collection that put Connection in the forefront. It’s a massive library of dance tracks that spans all the styles of dance music from current sounds to styles of the last two decades. You’ll find a great variety of music in here with tracks that can fit virtually any music format with the possible exception of polka, and I’m really not certain about that. Beautifully mixed, you’ll hear stuff reminiscent of disco and ‘80s new wave, but there’s also a ton of current Hot AC and Rhythmic CHR format oriented tracks. And yet all this dance stuff is explosive enough that I could picture much of it being used in Sports talk and hot topic News Talk formats as well.
Finally, “Dance Daze” is just that with some amazing high-energy club beats. You even get symbols next to each track that tell you which category the track fits. Among the categories are garage, swing beat/hiphop, techno, worldbeat, trip hop, minimalist/trance, drum’n’bass, and acid jazz.
Connect is a well-done library of music that most of us in North America don’t hear often enough. It’s one of those libraries you’ll want if you’re looking to really get your station to stand out past your competition. As I mentioned, it’s primarily geared at music stations with an emphasis on rhythmic or hot mix stations, but I could imagine this going well for alternative stations, and the aforementioned sports talk and hot issue newstalk formats. All information regarding demos and ordering can be gleaned from FirstCom’s trusty website: www.firstcom.com.