Friday, September 23, 2011

Natural Elements - NOW We're Talking!!

Man, I have been waiting at the door for this one to arrive...!! As you may recall, I've been documenting and pining for Natural Elements' brilliant yet unreleased demo tracks (see here, mainly, but also here and here)... And now, thanks to Chopped Herring Records, six of those vintage tracks are no longer unreleased!

The Lost Demos EP Vol. 1 ("Vol. 1?" "VOLUME 1?!" That implies there will be a "Vol. 2!" Woohoo!) is just shipping now on "very limited vinyl." Specifically, that breaks down into three unique pressings: 75 copies on gold vinyl, 75 copies on white (white) vinyl, and 150 on traditional black, for a grand total of 300 EPs. And they all come in a phat sticker cover.

So what have we got here?! Let's look at it track by track:

1) I Got Your Heart - I wrote about this one in my HHC article. It's also known as "What My Crew Do To You" and features the early line-up of Voodoo, KA (instead of A-Butta) and L-Swift. Thanks to the record label, we now this was produced in 1995 by (just like you'd expect) Charlemagne.

2) Triple Team - Another one I wrote about in the HHC article, another one featuring KA instead of A-Butta, and another one produced by Charlemagne in 1995.

3) Every Day - Now here's one I've never even heard of before! According to the label, it's again from 1995 and produced by Charlemagne. Fucking nice.

4) Life Ain't Fair (Original) - Another '95 one produced by Charlemagne that I wrote about in my article. It's interesting that this specifies "Original." That's because it's completely different from the version I have a snippet of. There's no R&B chorus, and this beat is much harder, giving the song an entirely different feel.

5) Machine Gun Prayer - This one's a Mr. Voodoo solo song, produced by LDR Louie Ortiz - the same guy who produced Voodoo's later EP, Let the World Know. The year of production is said to be unknown on this one, but if it's by Mr. Ortiz, it might be a little more recent than the other material on here.

6) Puttin' In Work (Demo Tape Version) - Another song that specifies this as a specific version, implying that there are others... This one is an L-Swift solo track, and the oldest one on the EP, dating all the way back to 1993; and it's again produced by Charlemagne.

Poor A-Butta isn't on here at all. The first four tracks are so old they feature the KA version of the line-up, and then he doesn't get a solo joint. I can't complain, though, everything here is great, and KA brings a unique element - if you'll forgive the pun - to the crew that works great. A-Butta and L-Swift, after all, sorta rode in the same lane. Voodoo was complex, L made it smooth and KA came with the ruggedness. Butta and Swift were both smooth. They were also both fantastic at it, so it was all good, but it's cool to experience more of the original line-up.

You may've noticed, I haven't really addressed how good the songs are... that's because this is from Natural Elements at their prime - it goes without saying that everything on here is must-have level material. And the sound quality ranks an A+, too. You may've heard shoddy radio rips of a couple of these songs before, but you can throw them shits out now! These are the clean, clear and unabridged original recordings sounding perfect (except the L-Swift song seems like it may've been sourced from an actual cassette; but it still sounds surprisingly good) on brand new vinyl.

Now Chopped Herring as already begun taking pre-orders on their next release, and it's not Natural Elements Vol. 2. It's Grimm Teachaz, an interesting group with some dope production that got jammed up in Jive Records back in '93. But if Vol. 2 isn't their current release or even their next release, we can hopefully expect it relatively soon. So, what might we have to look forward to?

Well, my HHC article covered the nine (total) known NE tracks that have yet to be recorded; and that didn't cover solo material, which Chopped Herring is clearly open to including. So, that means 5 of the tracks I wrote about there are still pending, plus the version of "Life Ain't Fair" with Bridge. Now "Survive" was released, albeit unofficially, on the Word of Mouth EP, so we're not worried about that one. And "Supreme Domination" was on the 10 Year Anniversary album - BUT that was a CD only release, so it would still be a very welcome inclusion on any vinyl Chopped Herring was willing to put out.

And that also leaves us with the great demo tracks "Knick Knack," "Freak Freak Y'All," "My Nature." Plus we know Mr. Voodoo, at least, has a bunch more killer solo joints that haven't been released (he could have a solo EP all to himself, which would be awesome), and there's always the non-Demo Tape Version of "Puttin' In Work." And of course, there's no telling what jewels might be in their vaults that nobody at all has heard of, but could still come out and blow us away. After all, "Every Day" was certainly a new one on us. Who knows? Maybe there's even going to be a Vol. 3. I'm giddy.


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  2. I still have dreams about that "I got your heart" Track, vintage 90's college radio shit here! DOPE POST!

  3. Great review, Werner! I am as happy as you are right now. It was kind of surreal getting my copies in the mail yesterday! =]

    Btw - Congratulations on the new record store. Best of luck with that venture.