Harkin & Raney, Shakes On


Photo by Christopher Jonassen

[Throne of Blood]


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As the days get shorter and we start closing out the year, many of us take the time to reflect on what we’ve heard in the seemingly arbitrary confines of the calendar and what has made the most impact. Our minds inevitably turn towards the “Silent State”s and the “Sicko Cell”s; those tracks whose names seemed to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue and get played at practically every opportunity. And that’s all well and good, but what about those tracks which found themselves criminally underhyped? Not only do they occupy the envious position of not getting on everyone’s nerves, but they achieve perhaps the even more coveted status of a secret weapon. While it’s far from a secret weapon, “Workin’ & Steamin'” by New York scene lynchpin Eamon Harkin (of Mister Saturday Night fame) and his production partner Steve Raney is certainly one of 2011’s unsung hits.

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What’s truly great about “Workin’ & Steamin'” is that it knows exactly what it wants to do and executes it with aplomb. The percussive backbone is supplied by a 707 while moody pads and propulsive bass stabs work in tandem to heighten tension, a rugged vocal sample arriving to bind it all together. The big moments come with chord changes and with sample switch ups — hardly novel constructions, but that matters a lot less when it’s so expertly done. “Shakes On” and its remix on the flip are both solid, but the fact that they’re overshadowed by the A-side is not exactly a surprise. Usually at this point I would mention my expectations that “Workin’ & Steamin'” would be getting a lot of play in the coming months, but in this specific case it hasn’t really turned out to be true. This is a shame, because the few times I have heard it out it’s been a true highlight.

Joseph Hallam  on November 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Very nice.

Jordan Rothlein  on November 23, 2011 at 12:13 AM

Chris, you really nail what’s great about this “Workin’ & Steamin'”. Sure, it’s not reinventing house music, but it’s imbuing tried-and-true formulas with a rather uniquely genuine pleasure at engaging with those formulas. Importantly, that pleasure seems (in my experience at least) to speak to just about everyone, be they total house neophytes or Levon Vincent (whose dropping of “W&S” at the Mister Sunday closing party in September while Eamon Harkin looked on in a bit of a daze lent credence to what our feet were telling us week in and week out last summer). As someone who’s spent a lot of time this year at the very loft/Superfunded canal-side parties where “W&S” got caned consistently, I’m not exactly neutral on this point, but few tracks feel as utterly 2011 to me as this one.

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