Produced With Love Joey Negro Z Records Dave Lee’s love affair with disco started when he first heard Heatwave’s Boogie Nights on a children’s television show as a 13-year-old. Forty years later, the man chiefly known as Joey Negro, but also at various times as Jakatta, Raven Maize, Doug Willis and several other monikers, has built a career on integrating the once much maligned genre into new, predominantly house-facing productions, and re-editing classic disco and soul records for release on his own Z Records imprint. On Produced With Love, only his second artist album following 1993’s Universe of Love, Lee has created a modern-day, disco-inspired masterpiece, a positive, sunny and up-tempo ode to good times. Opener Prove That You’re Feelin’ Me sets the tone, it being unadulterated modern-day disco voiced by Diane Charlemagne. Lee’s long-time collaborator, who died in 2015 and to whom the album is dedicated, also lends her “natural gift for both lyrics and melody” on the squelchy-synth goodness of Overnight Sensation and Lee’s recreation of his 1999 club track Must Be The Music. Horsemeat Disco and Angela Johnson feature on the sublime Dancing into the Stars, which, with its lush strings and infectious keys, makes for a standout among standouts. Veteran Melba Moore delivers a typically soul-drenched vocal on the string-led Anyway, as does New York disco queen Linda Clifford on the more contemporary, bumpy house number Won’t Let Go. Elsewhere, Lee takes obvious delight in giving Kraftwerk’s 1981 single It’s More Fun to Compute a modern-day rework.
There’s real depth to the orchestration and arrangements throughout; Lee is, by his own admission, his own worst critic and this perfectionist bent manifests itself throughout Produced With Love. Full of groove and soul, it’s a triumph.