By 1993, the acid jazz scene was garnering much more awareness in the US and labels here were beginning to take notice with the success of Jamiroquai and Brand New Heavies. Most of the larger UK acts on majors were coming out of imprints on Polygram such as Talking Loud and FFRR. A subsidiary of Polygram US was London Records, which also had Payday Records. Payday Records was run by Patrick Moxie, who at the time also managed Gangstarr – he’s now the owner of Ultra Records.
Given that acid jazz was one of our primary areas of specialty, Patrick approached us about putting together a compilation for him. Naturally, we wanted to the name to be in line with our brand, so we called the compilation “Giant Steps,” adding the “s” on the end to differentiate a bit from “Giant Step.”
By working with Patrick and London's US A&R man Neil Harris, we were able to draw from catalogs of UK artists like Galliano from whom I picked “Prince Of Peace.” We also used Martine Girault’s “Revival,” which was a classic track at our club and had not yet been released stateside. Paul Weller of The Jam and The Style Council was on Polydor UK, and appeared on the compilation with a very soulful tune called “Above The Clouds.” We also licensed a track from a UK band that I was about to manage called Raw Stylus.
From the US side, we had Diana Brown & Barrie K Sharpe’s “Masterplan” – another classic, Jhelisa Anderson’s “Sally’s Knockin” (although from the US, she was actually living in London and recording for Dorado Records), and a few New York based artists, including Cooly’s Hot Box, Harlem rap duo Hed Rush, and Dana Bryant.
Dana covered “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron. It was a track she would meet with great success at her very memorable live performances. I had to contact Gil to get his approval – I just wanted his blessing, really. I called him up while he was on tour – I think he was in DC. He answered the phone and he said, “Yeah, I’ve listened to it – I don’t think it’s very good.” I asked him why, and he said, “Well, because she didn’t change my lyrics enough.” It was interesting to get his take on that, and certainly a valuable perspective. He was right: it was true to the original with updated lyrics, but still a killer version to this day, in my opinion.
Back then it took a significantly longer time to make records – this one took us about a year and a half to put out. So of course when all was said and done, we wanted to celebrate! To commemorate the release of the record, we threw a party at the Supper Club as part of our Giant Step weekly. I remember Paul Martin, A&R at Talking Loud in London, was our special guest DJ that week. It was a fun time, and just the right way to celebrate such an exciting accomplishment and milestone for Giant Step.