Citi Express

Living for the City

Afrosynth • 1991

»Living for the City« is a re-release that takes music recycling to the extreme. Even the originals on the album, which was released in 1991 on the South African label On Record, were originally covers – apart from »Open Invitation«: The international boycott of the apartheid state made it impossible to licence songs from abroad, so DJ and producer Quentin Foster simply re-recorded them as part of his Citi Express project. Which means: twenty-two years later, five cover versions and one original track are being re-released here on Afrosynth. The most famous of these is undoubtedly Stevie Wonder’s title track, which Foster expanded into a ten-minute-plus house anthem with opulent shakers, syncopated drums and an eminently suitable female vocalist. The structure of the song may be the same, but its power is something else: While Stevie Wonder was writing upbeat soul and pop music to get people dancing in 1973, Citi Express was, in the early 1990s, making the transition from dance to club music in a decidedly American way. That means these six songs, especially »Love Is The Message« with its high speed and muscular bassline, have long since crossed the threshold to house music. Not only did Foster’s creative cover versions prove that he was no imitator, but so did »Open Invitation«, the original track at the end of the album, with its shuffling drums, attractive spoken-word verses and catchy chorus.