Monday, October 20, 2014

Tuff City Priority: Maximum Frustration

These guys are pretty slept on, but if you don't know, Priority One are seriously dope. They were a Tuff City group in 1989, and featured some hot production thanks to one of their members being The 45 King's understudy, Louie Louie a.k.a. Luis Vega. And you had MC Ron Delite, a top notch Flavor Unit (phase 1) MC, plus scratches by their DJ Scratchmaster Smitty B. It just all added up perfectly: classic breaks, rapid fire deliveries... real, pure hip-hop. If you've never heard them, I'll wait here for a second while you go improve your life.

Unfortunately, they only dropped one album (Total Chaos) and one single. You know, Tuff City. They weren't known for giving groups long, prosperous careers. Though, as it was Tuff City, they did also have a few odds and ends tracks that would pop up on the occasional compilation, too. So, when I saw Tuff City was putting out a Priority One record in the same 2008 Ol Skool Flava line as that Lakim Shabazz record I covered recently, well, I was amped for both.

Of course, you might remember me ending that Lakim piece with the phrase "cheap cash-in." Well, here we go again.

Like the Lakim, this has "Rare & Unreleased Old School Hip-Hop" written right on the front cover. Now, the Lakim Shabazz album, you may recall, had far fewer unreleased tracks than the it led you to believe, because many of those tracks were just previously released songs with the titles screwed up. Well, this album doesn't have that problem. No, this album just doesn't have any tracks marked "PU," because none of them are actually unreleased. In fact, the overwhelming majority of this album is just their album, Total Chaos, repressed.

But it's not a 100% repress. It does have two songs from their 12" single.  So okay, you might say, it's just a glorified repress, albeit falsely labeled as a collection of "Rare & Unreleased" tracks? That's not so bad. They were a great album and single. It's still a nice way to pick up the pair cheaply and conveniently, right?

No, it's worse than that; it's infinitely more annoying. See, they didn't just add the 12" songs to the LP. They removed two LP songs to be replaced by the 12" tracks. And the 12" had three songs, which means you're not getting the complete album or even the complete single. Although at least the third 12" track was just an exclusive instrumental, so it's not as big a loss as a full vocal song.

But seriously, any fan of Priority One who gets this is still going to need the buy the original LP. And if they're big fans, they'll still need the 12", too. So this is like totally useless! If this is a compilation, why not throw on their classic "Checkmate You Lose" or Ron Delite's rare songs with Curious George and Corporation of One? Those were all on Tuff City, too, so it's not like Tuff City would've had to incur any additional expense. And then at least it would have been useful as a compilation, letting us get those Priority One songs together without having to track down all those disparate projects. And again, where the hell are the unreleased tracks?

God damn it, Tuff City, could you be any more frustrating? Argh! At least, unlike the Lakim album, this doesn't have any single songs on here you have to buy the whole record for. Everything here is readily available on the original LP and 12". So I can safely recommend saving your money and skipping this silly thing. Again, it doesn't even work as an album repress, because it's incomplete in that regard, too! Mr. Fuchs, what were you thinking? I just want to grab you by the lapels and shake you until a refund drops out of your pockets! I just... I just don't understand.

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