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Favorite two-step tracks/artists?

Posted (edited)
On 05/12/2018 at 08:10, Babinski said:

As somewhat of a soul newbie I'm still struggling a bit with soul sub genre classification, but apparently I love what's referred to as two step soul or "steppers". I'm not really a dancer but I guess it's that smooth, laidback and funky sound I'm looking for. 

Anyways, feel free to share one or a couple of your favorite tracks/45s or if there are any specifik artists I really should dig into.

A couple of examples that I really dig are Jeffree - Loves gonna last, Paris - I choose you, Keni Burke - Risin to the top. Any tips appreciated!

How refreshing to find a thread on here not dominated by people arguing the toss over who played what where and why he or she should or shouldn't have done, a thread for those of us just concentrating of the music itself.

My best music friend Gary Lee, who passed away two years ago almost to the day, when asked by me, when I too back in the 1990's wasn't sure at the time, described a two step track as one that had the next feel upwards from a ballad, and with a tempo that if one were standing with a partner would create a desire to hold them gently whilst taking a short step to one side, followed by a second step back to the starting position. At first I disputed this as I felt it was more likely in Gary's case, a minimum of "two steps" to one side of him would be the likely course of action any girl had on her mind if she saw him heading her way as soon as a set of slow tracks was about to begin. He didn't dispute that and maintained that both scenarios were possible. 

I have in front of me a database of BPM's of my own collection, [timed down to 1/10th of a beat] which I have sorted in a specific order for this exercise. The question is, what is the cut off BPM for two steppers in that file? I'm looking at titles now and singing them, I know these inside out and I'm struggling to convince myself that any of those above 95 BPM are two steppers. However, it could be argued that it doesn't end there because the lyrical content has to be considered for the two stepping motion to be logical. Are a happy couple likely to want to two step with each other to a track titled "You're no good for me (you cheating bastard)?" Hence why I rarely use the phrase two step as it doesn't make sense unless a track contains all of the required ingredients.

For entering video links, at the bottom of each video you can click on the feature which just uploads the link rather than an image of the video itself to save space on the forum page. However, the slightest mistake doing so and you will waste an eternity trying to correct it as I just did hence I had to just load as normal to save time. As I'd already prepared all of the 15 links I've gone ahead and done it this time but will restrict any future postings on this thread to a max of 10. Perhaps Soul Source can improve the above issue?

This first batch of 15 takes us up to 85.4 BPM in ascending order and should give anyone in any doubt a better idea, note the lyrical content in each. Interested to hear your thoughts but just click on reply, don't copy the entire posting otherwise it's going to include all of the videos again. Martin

63.0 Chaz & Trina Simmons Getting Ready For Love

66.2 Vokal Ride

68.0 Yvonne Gage Mystic Love Affair [Mind blowing track but lyrics not quite right for stepping. The rest of the LP is very poor]

69.0 Robert Brookins Crazy Bout Your Love

72.0 Michael Franks & Rene Diggs [Starpoint]  Love Duet

72.3 Chris Jasper The First Time

73.0 First Love  Things Are Not The Same Without You

73.6 Joshie Jo Armstead Right Place

75.1 Kashif & Melisa Morgan Love Changes [Cover version of the Mother’s Finest track from 1978]

75.7 Airplay Nothing You Can Do About It [Stunning track but a bit too lively for stepping]

77.9 Herb Alpert  You Are The One  [This highly unfashionable LP is a classic in my opinion]

80.2 Bennie Braxton Come To Me

83.2 Me Him & Her Closer

83.5 Kuh Ledesma Keep On Loving me

85.4 Colin Blunstone Touch

 

 

 

Edited by Martin S
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This one (I think is a "two step" one, ?) captivated me from the first moment when I purchased my copy of Dramatic's "Dramatic Way" in 1980 at "Raf Import" store, Avinguda de Roma in Barcelona. The second album without LJ Reynolds:

 

 

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@Martin S

Spot on about the tempo - a number of the tracks featured in this thread although great are too fast to be 2 steppers . As has been said before they were slow records with just enough beat for head nodding . They were chosen for their BPM suitability in among predominately reggae / lovers rock records at blues parties / functions  .  Also the lyrics had a certain common denominator ie. getting it on [ although not all but was a very common theme ] . 'Scrubbing' was a dance that involved a man and woman facing each other , standing close [very close] with the rest left to the imagination . A DJ might shout out 'one for the lovers' and off it went . About as far from talcum powder , spins and back drops as you can get .

This is the semi instrumental to Rita Wright's classic 'Touch me , Take Me' - with 'X certificate' breathy vocals . The flip is the straight instrumental which illustrates the required beat very well .

 

 

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Always think of two step as being soul through a reggae-filter and lovers rock as being reggae through a soul filter - easy!! No direct link to the Chicago steppers scene, though!!

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10 minutes ago, steveh73 said:

Always think of two step as being soul through a reggae-filter and lovers rock as being reggae through a soul filter - easy!! No direct link to the Chicago steppers scene, though!!

A good description - the 2 compliment each other . For instance -

 

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Back to 1987 for this Jam & Lewis production, featuring Herb Alpert duetting with wife Lani Hall:

 

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And onward to 1993 for this wonderful track by Alex Bugnon featuring the criminally underrated Regis Branson:

 

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And back to 1987 for some harmony soul with the Down Five:

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone, I went over my long post from yesterday again just now, and remain of the opinion that all but 2 of the 15 listed qualify as steppers. The two that clearly don't, for the reasons stated, are Yvonne Gage and Airplay. Later today I expect to list another selection of tracks in a slightly higher BPM range to yesterday which we can debate. For the moment though I'd like to focus on Mickey's 3 tracks from yesterday.

Here's the BPM's with the lowest first, 1. Herb 82.9, 2. Down Five 87.9, Alex 92.1. 

I don't like to criticise other peoples choices but on the Down Five I have a few points that I feel there is validity in. I don't own this record myself purely because of the vocal content, but it's interesting that Mickey is from Finland. Whilst he possibly speaks better English than most people in England, there can be a fine margin on the meanings of words or phrases that go unnoticed in translation. As a first language English speaker, there's three lyrics early in the Down Five that have deterred me from buying it: "You love me deep, the kind that's made for two," assuming group sex wasn't on the menu then this is a rather obvious statement. "When I'm with you, you're always on my mind," how reassuring for the girl to know he wasn't thinking of someone else whilst in her company. Worryingly for her though, he made no reference to his thought process for her when not in her company? "You're my honey, sweet as mellow wine." Whilst it might be technically possible to describe wine as such for all I know, it's a phrase that doesn't sound right to me. If only one of the three lyrics had existed I might have considered buying it, but when all three come within a 43 seconds segment it's not for me. I feel the drums on this track are too heavy for the type of groove that the lyrics, if improved, were suggesting. My overall opinion of this one is it's not a stepper and there simply hasn't been enough thought put into the material, especially the lyrics, which is a shame as the chorus melody was appealing. Just going back to the language issue, I have many non-English sung tracks, especially Japanese, and I am convinced I am likely to have far worse lyrical content than the above but just accept it by not being in a position to challenge it. I'll edit this posting if anyone objects to it, but i just thought it would be an insight into some collectors buying criteria.

Edited by Martin S
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Popular as a new release 2 stepper in 1987 -

 

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3 hours ago, Martin S said:

Hi everyone, I went over my long post from yesterday again just now, and remain of the opinion that all but 2 of the 15 listed qualify as steppers. The two that clearly don't, for the reasons stated, are Yvonne Gage and Airplay. Later today I expect to list another selection of tracks in a slightly higher BPM range to yesterday which we can debate. For the moment though I'd like to focus on Mickey's 3 tracks from yesterday.

Here's the BPM's with the lowest first, 1. Herb 82.9, 2. Down Five 87.9, Alex 92.1. 

I don't like to criticise other peoples choices but on the Down Five I have a few points that I feel there is validity in. I don't own this record myself purely because of the vocal content, but it's interesting that Mickey is from Finland. Whilst he possibly speaks better English than most people in England, there can be a fine margin on the meanings of words or phrases that go unnoticed in translation. As a first language English speaker, there's three lyrics early in the Down Five that have deterred me from buying it: "You love me deep, the kind that's made for two," assuming group sex wasn't on the menu then this is a rather obvious statement. "When I'm with you, you're always on my mind," how reassuring for the girl to know he wasn't thinking of someone else whilst in her company. Worryingly for her though, he made no reference to his thought process for her when not in her company? "You're my honey, sweet as mellow wine." Whilst it might be technically possible to describe wine as such for all I know, it's a phrase that doesn't sound right to me. If only one of the three lyrics had existed I might have considered buying it, but when all three come within a 43 seconds segment it's not for me. I feel the drums on this track are too heavy for the type of groove that the lyrics, if improved, were suggesting. My overall opinion of this one is it's not a stepper and there simply hasn't been enough thought put into the material, especially the lyrics, which is a shame as the chorus melody was appealing. Just going back to the language issue, I have many non-English sung tracks, especially Japanese, and I am convinced I am likely to have far worse lyrical content than the above but just accept it by not being in a position to challenge it. I'll edit this posting if anyone objects to it, but i just thought it would be an insight into some collectors buying criteria.

Actually I thought 2 step is a just a UK thing and steppin' is a US thing, I don't think it matters, BPM doesn't matter it's just a slower paced tune than a disco beat, surely

 

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I'm not 100% sure what is really "a two step son" but if "Honey" by Delegation is a "two step", I think "Float On" by The Floaters can be a two step paradigm (…?)

 

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Boz getting in on the act as well .

on

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Not sure about the Dramatics song but I have heard "Float On" 

on Chicago Steppers mix shows. Here's another Classic Chicago

Stepper - 

 

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Nodding heads or hypnotic mooves on the dance floor Jazzy two step 

 

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definition of a 'stepper' ( imho of course )

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Posted (edited)

At this point I feel I have to step in as this thread is in danger of deviating so wildly from the original topic based on some of the recent uploads. Let's get back to the qualifying criteria for what we describe in the UK as two step, as mentioned by a few of us here. The classic combination is a driving bass line, lyrics that are actually love songs or that way inclined, and the tempo has to be significantly different to that of a dance track/disco beat. I'll run through B'pools last bunch first:

* Indicates timed and calculated over a max of 2 segments from the Youtube upload for approximate result though possibly spot on.

Arnies Love is in no way a two step track. It's feel is an obvious disco beat at 104.0 BPM, way above the typical threshold for two step. 

Mayer Hawthorne has no bass drive whatsoever and is in no way a two step track even though BPM of 90.4* is within typical range.

Delegation again has no bass drive whatsoever and is not a two step track. I would describe it as a downtempo mellow soul track which is bordering on ballad due to there being "no groove" in the rhythm section. BPM is 94.6 and below*

Johnny Bristol is 87-88.5 BPM* but sounds way faster, so much so that I timed 3 segments of it as it felt more like a disco beat. It's definitely not two step.

Bo & Ruth has no bass drive and is way over average threshold at 103.8 BPM*

So I'm sorry to report that only 1 of the bunch of 6 qualifies as a clear two stepper:

Bobby Caldwell. Note that this has a distinctive bass line driving the groove, BPM varies from 83.8 to 85.5*

I saw you made a comment regarding steppers in USA, but where I have used the phrase stepper or stepping it's only as a reference to UK two stepping and I have no idea what qualifies for stepping in the USA.

Edited by Martin S

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Posted (edited)

Okay, I've checked the rest of todays uploads. When I look at each contributors consistency, Surfcity can hold his head up high. I didn't know that Boz Scaggs track so thanks for uploading that. For everyone else still in doubt, that Boz Scaggs track is precisely the definition of two step. Immediately the track starts the driving bass line groove is there, BPM loosely timed is 76.6. As for Tyrone's Love Triangle, the mix in the video is a messy too long intro mix, the regular mix though suggests this is yet another two step track and the BPM is 70.6. 

Sadly the two uploaded by Concrete are not two steppers. Emotions Flowers is approx 108 BPM and an obvious dance track, and Eighties Ladies despite being within BPM range of approx 92 BPM, is a dance track. Both of these were classic floor fillers.

At this point I should just say something I didn't mention in my earlier postings. I was a well known trader [Safe Sounds] throughout the 90's at the London Black Music Record Fairs, and promoter of my own occasional fairs in Croydon and Kingston early 90's. I was therefore in direct face to face contact with many serious collectors of two step in the London area, and therefore feel I'm in a good position to make judgement on precisely what qualifies.

Edited by Martin S

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40 minutes ago, Martin S said:

Okay, I've checked the rest of todays uploads. When I look at each contributors consistency, Surfcity can hold his head up high. I didn't know that Boz Scaggs track so thanks for uploading that. For everyone else still in doubt, that Boz Scaggs track is precisely the definition of two step. Immediately the track starts the driving bass line groove is there, BPM loosely timed is 76.6. As for Tyrone's Love Triangle, the mix in the video is a messy too long intro mix, the regular mix though suggests this is yet another two step track and the BPM is 70.6. 

Sadly the two uploaded by Concrete are not two steppers. Emotions Flowers is approx 108 BPM and an obvious dance track, and Eighties Ladies despite being within BPM range of approx 92 BPM, is a dance track. Both of these were classic floor fillers.

At this point I should just say something I didn't mention in my earlier postings. I was a well known trader [Safe Sounds] throughout the 90's at the London Black Music Record Fairs, and promoter of my own occasional fairs in Croydon and Kingston early 90's. I was therefore in direct face to face contact with many serious collectors of two step in the London area, and therefore feel I'm in a good position to make judgement on precisely what does or does not qualify.

Do you remember when these tracks had some demand ? All UK's .

The Vibrations / Compromise 

Realistics / Puttin' down down to way I feel about you

Moon Williams / Everytime I take the time

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Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, surfcity said:

Do you remember when these tracks had some demand ? All UK's .

The Vibrations / Compromise 

Realistics / Puttin' down down to way I feel about you

Moon Williams / Everytime I take the time

The Vibrations - I had never even heard of this before you mentioned it. Doesn't appear to be on Youtube either. Is it good?

https://www.discogs.com/Vibrations-Compromise/master/1459190

The Realistics - Don't remember any demand on that, it's the same song as Jimmy Helms did in 1977, which I have. Was Realistics the first release of this song?

Moon Williams - Don't remember any demand on that either, again hadn't heard of it until you mentioned it. Sounds pleasant but just average. Edit: I think I have something by MJ Williams, he uses either name, let me check....I have this one which again is pleasant but just average, flip isn't saying anything btw https://www.discogs.com/M-J-Williams-Only-Your-Love-Can-Save-Me-Now/master/681408

Edited by Martin S

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nice two step to me

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Forward to 2010 for this big Mick O'Donnell spin by Miles Jaye:

 

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Nice to see the Roy Ayers productions getting recognition here - howsabout this from Roy himself in 1979:

 

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Onward to 1987 for this Leon Ware masterpiece:

 

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A lot of the tracks posted here are not recognised 2 steppers - is it time to close the thread?

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Posted (edited)

Interesting ?

Not to be confused with the breakbeat garage mash-up of later eras, the Hackney 2 step scene celebrated a special form of US soul music that had the streets of East London buzzing for quite some time. The original 2 step sound got its name from the omnipresent whiplash rhythm, which for a certain period dominated the orchestrated major label productions in the US. With its low-key mid-tempo swagger, 2 step soul was especially popular with the notorious UK rare groove scene, and later UK artists like Micah Paris and Omar, who continued to put their own contemporary spin on the classic recordings.

https://www.redbullradio.com/shows/sound-obsession/episodes/kirk-degiorgio-hackney-2-step-originals

Edited by Blackpoolsoul

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7 hours ago, Martin S said:

The Vibrations - I had never even heard of this before you mentioned it. Doesn't appear to be on Youtube either. Is it good?

https://www.discogs.com/Vibrations-Compromise/master/1459190

The Realistics - Don't remember any demand on that, it's the same song as Jimmy Helms did in 1977, which I have. Was Realistics the first release of this song?

Moon Williams - Don't remember any demand on that either, again hadn't heard of it until you mentioned it. Sounds pleasant but just average. Edit: I think I have something by MJ Williams, he uses either name, let me check....I have this one which again is pleasant but just average, flip isn't saying anything btw https://www.discogs.com/M-J-Williams-Only-Your-Love-Can-Save-Me-Now/master/681408

I mentioned them not because they are the best of examples but because they remind me of a time in the 1990's when all sorts of artists's were getting trawled for that 'sound' - a bit like the Northern Scene did in the late 1970's . The backing on all is 2 step though .

I remember the Vibrations along with Josie James being on 'wants' in the back of Record Collector [ I think from John Doe ?] This was not the USA group but a UK group [ the only sound clip is on John Manship's website ]

The Realistics was at one time on want's [ think these were UK group ? ] Not sure if this was the first release of the song as quite a few covered it [ Eugene Record etc ] although something tells me it was [ Ken Gold ]

Moon Williams [ M.J. Williams ] is well known to the Northern Scene but this 45 is 2 step . Vocally average but has the required beat .

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On 19/12/2018 at 14:22, Martin S said:

How refreshing to find a thread on here not dominated by people arguing the toss over who played what where and why he or she should or shouldn't have done, a thread for those of us just concentrating of the music itself. 

 

9 hours ago, Martin S said:

At this point I feel I have to step in as this thread is in danger of deviating so wildly from the original topic based on some of the recent uploads. Let's get back to the qualifying criteria for what we describe in the UK as two step, as mentioned by a few of us here. The classic combination is a driving bass line, lyrics that are actually love songs or that way inclined, and the tempo has to be significantly different to that of a dance track/disco beat. I'll run through B'pools last bunch first:

 

 

7 minutes ago, steveh73 said:

A lot of the tracks posted here are not recognised 2 steppers - is it time to close the thread?

 

That didn't last long, did it? The thread was started by someone with a particular interest in soulful slowies above ballad tempo looking for similar tunes. As far as I'm concerned the thread has not deviated at all. It's always interesting to see different perspectives on what qualifies as something such as "2 step", but while Martin S clearly knows his stuff and has channeled his inner James Hamilton to work up a particularly precise definition of "2 step", I don't see anyone else setting such rigid boundaries or calling for disqualification of this or that. We nominate tracks we like - others like them, or they don't. I appreciate the analysis and we are beginning to see variations in style thanks to the stuff posted here about Chicago, London, Hackney, my bedroom, etc. But even more I appreciate hearing great music I've not heard before or just forgot about. And hopefully Babinski's original request gets satisfied along the way. What's difficult?

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As I write I'm listening to the Expansion Soul Sauce volume 2 comp and this track by Wilton Felder featuring Bobby Womack from 1992 came up - seems to fit the bill:

 

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Found an old thread here

 

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3 hours ago, steveh73 said:

A lot of the tracks posted here are not recognised 2 steppers - is it time to close the thread?

Hope not - it might clear up once and for all what 2 step soul is . As you say a lot of tracks on this thread - although great in their own right - are not 2 step and would have got needle lifted at places expecting to hear that sound 😀

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3 hours ago, Blackpoolsoul said:

Interesting ?

Not to be confused with the breakbeat garage mash-up of later eras, the Hackney 2 step scene celebrated a special form of US soul music that had the streets of East London buzzing for quite some time. The original 2 step sound got its name from the omnipresent whiplash rhythm, which for a certain period dominated the orchestrated major label productions in the US. With its low-key mid-tempo swagger, 2 step soul was especially popular with the notorious UK rare groove scene, and later UK artists like Micah Paris and Omar, who continued to put their own contemporary spin on the classic recordings.

https://www.redbullradio.com/shows/sound-obsession/episodes/kirk-degiorgio-hackney-2-step-originals

That description is perfect. Hackney was the prime spot.

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12 minutes ago, Martin S said:

That description is perfect. Hackney was the prime spot.

2 step central .

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, steveh73 said:

A lot of the tracks posted here are not recognised 2 steppers - is it time to close the thread?

Steve, the whole point of the thread is to educate readers as to what qualifies as a two step track. You are correct in stating that a lot of the tracks listed so far are not recognised two steppers and in response to this I have spent time breaking them down with reasons provided for such. However, someone might post a track that was stunning but not recognised yet, following which it will be.

I believe I'm correct in saying that the majority of readers would be far more interested to hear a bunch of titles that you believe are two steppers, rather than suggest the thread is closed. A one sentence negative posting helps no one. Please list titles that are not already in these 29 https://www.redbullradio.com/shows/sound-obsession/episodes/kirk-degiorgio-hackney-2-step-originals most of which I was asked for countless times throughout the 90's. 

Thanks

 

 

Edited by Martin S

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If you own Jackie Wilson's 'It only happens' on Brunswick flip it for another 2 stepper . I bought a few of these back in the day for the flip side only to see the 'A' side become a big Northern in demander -

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Mickey Finn said:

As far as I'm concerned the thread has not deviated at all. It's always interesting to see different perspectives on what qualifies as something such as "2 step", but while Martin S clearly knows his stuff and has channeled his inner James Hamilton to work up a particularly precise definition of "2 step", I don't see anyone else setting such rigid boundaries or calling for disqualification of this or that. We nominate tracks we like - others like them, or they don't. I appreciate the analysis and we are beginning to see variations in style thanks to the stuff posted here about Chicago, London, Hackney, my bedroom, etc. But even more I appreciate hearing great music I've not heard before or just forgot about. And hopefully Babinski's original request gets satisfied along the way. 

Mickey, let's just look at what I stated a bit more carefully:  At this point I feel I have to step in as this thread is in danger of deviating so wildly from the original topic based on some of the recent uploads. I made this comment because once tracks of 104 and 108 BPM were up, we'd have had 110, 114, 116 more likely by which time the thread would have been chaos, you've seen it on the site time after time with various subjects. People seemed to just be uploading tracks they liked without really asking themselves, is this two step or not and am I bringing anything valid to the debate. My main aim on this thread is to answer Bab's question in ways that leave him and other readers, in little doubt as to what qualifies as a two step track, or close to such.

Edited by Martin S

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22 minutes ago, surfcity said:

2 step central .

If a two step, 6 or more track bootleg compilation surfaced in a plain white sleeve, in the late 80's or 90's, it wasn't hard to figure out which direction it might have been heading from!

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I like debate of this kind and appreciate your attempt to give us something to debate. But this debate is part of how the thread has evolved. The definition of 2 step remains an open question and hopefully we'll get some more perspectives on that. The regional variations are interesting, for example. Meanwhile Babinski will hopefully find some good tunes along the way. And the same goes for the rest of us. For what it's worth, those bpms you are quoting up there probably are more 4 to the floor than 2 step, in my opinion at least.

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1 minute ago, Martin S said:

If a two step, 6 or more track bootleg compilation surfaced in a plain white sleeve, in the late 80's or 90's, it wasn't hard to figure out which direction it might have been heading from!

Very true sir . By the way did you advertise 'Safe Sounds' in any of the soul mags as I can remember seeing it somewhere ?

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