Mixtape Of The Day 6/5/2016: Moulton

That remix of Imagine Dragons you're trying to stitch together on GarageBand? As you're tweaking those low frequencies to properly convey the gravitas of their oversized bass drum, take a minute to thank Tom Moulton for making your vision possible.

Moulton was an erstwhile male model who had worked in sales and promotion in the music industry. One night he went to a gay bar on Fire Island, that thin plank-like body off the southern coast of Long Island, to check out the dancing scene. In the process he noted three things: (1) Dancers really loved R&B music, but (2) it was hard to keep momentum up while playing 7-inch singles that didn't go over four minutes, which also meant (3) the DJ's bathroom breaks had to be very quick affairs.

To remedy this situation Moulton made a long tape of music for the Sandpiper bar, which evolved into his taking different elements of the songs, arranging them into eight- or nine-minute pieces that thrived on build-up and release. So those were the first remixes in music history. Moulton began doing these remixes to what became an impossibly large number of songs. Disco DJs started to demand them so Moulton started pressing them. One time he finished a mix, but the studio he was at had run out of 7-inch acetates. But they had some 12-inch acetates available, so Moulton just put the song on one of those. In doing so he found he could expand the dynamic range with the wider grooves, instead of bunching up all the middle frequencies onto a 7-inch. And those were the first 12-inch disco versions in music history.

Moulton's remixes eventually numbered in the thousands, a huge chunk of them from the Philadelphia soul cloth that was rising in popularity at the time (and is probably my favorite sub-set of R&B music, generally speaking). I believe he's still doing remixes to this day although the technology's obviously changed.

So today's mixtape is full of Moulton's handiwork, featuring '70s R&B songs you might recognize and some that might be a little less familiar. At two hours and two minutes this is the longest officially-sanctioned Mixtape I've put out yet, but it's only got fifteen songs on it. Just set it and forget it, or dance to it if that's your thing. And not that it matters, but damn it if Moulton himself isn't the perfect prototype of '70s handsome manliness. See? Not every music innovator is gangly and awkward. Enjoy.

William DeVaughn - Be Thankful for What You Got
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes - The Love I Lost
The Futures - Party Time Man
First Choice - Armed and Extremely Dangerous
Ultra High Frequency feat. Ben Aiken - We're On the Right Track
Melba Moore - Standing Right Here
New York City - I'm Doin' Fine Now
Double Exposure - My Love Is Free
The Jones Girls - Nights Over Egypt
The O'Jays - Back Stabbers
Freda Payne - Unhooked Generation
Blue Magic - Look Me Up
Viola Wells - If You Could Read My Mind
Spinners - One of a Kind (Love Affair)
The Three Degrees - When Will I See You Again

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