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Strictly Rhythm

Profile:

Prolific New York City-based house label established in 1989 by music executive Mark Finkelstein and A&R Gladys Pizarro.
A&R from 1992 to 1994: DJ Pierre.
A&R from 1992 to the mid-1990s: George Morel.
A&R from 1992 to the late 1990s (and former VP of Promotions): Bari G.
The label subsequently expanded into Europe where Phil Cheeseman headed its European operations and was A&R for various UK-based producers.
Other licensing partnerships were established with labels in Germany, France, South Africa, Brazil and Japan.
In addition to its various sub-labels, Strictly Rhythm manufactured and distributed over 30 other labels between 1994 and 2002.
In 2001 Strictly Rhythm entered into a venture with Warner Music Group and the establishment of a UK subsidiary, Strictly Rhythm UK. This partnership ultimately led to the label's demise nine months later, in October 2002.
After four years of legal wrangling, Mark Finkelstein regained control of the label, its trademark and its recordings and publishing rights and relaunched the label in 2006 in partnership with Defected, with Aaron Ross as A&R manager.
In 2013 the label's catalogue was acquired by BMG Rights Management, with the label continuing to release new recordings. In 2019 the brand name was acquired by BMG.

Parent Label:Strictly rhythm Records, Inc.
Sublabels:Grandslam Records, Ill Friction, Phat Wax Records, Physical Graffiti Music, Pink Music, Red Stick Recordings, Xtra Life Records
Contact Info:

Strictly Rhythm Records, Inc.
626 RXR Plaza
Uniondale, NY 11556
USA

Links:X , Facebook , Instagram , Soundcloud , Mixcloud , YouTube , Vimeo , linktr.ee , Wikipedia

Label

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Releases

ArtistTitle (Format)Catalog NumberYear

Reviews

  • TerryHook's avatar
    TerryHook
    A few good records, a LOT of bang average ones.
    • DennisV94's avatar
      DennisV94
      Apparently Gladys Pizarro was a mason before she went into music. That's were the famous bricks on the logo come from..
      • Rob_Etch's avatar
        Rob_Etch
        The remastered 12s that appeared around the 2005/06/07 time - are the pressings & masters decent? Are they consistent, or is it pot luck?
        • Jazzybell's avatar
          Jazzybell
          I think the late 90s like 98 99 and early 2000s were underrated years with tracks like “what you need”, “that sound” , “pow pow pow” , “just me and you “ ,“get it up the feeling” and more that are some of my favorites from strictly.
          • UndecidedMarkus's avatar
            Edited 9 months ago
            Ah yes. Strictly Rhythm. My favorite house music label of all time. Let me get started on why I consider this the best label. There are many songs that I heard that I didn’t know they were in this label. Reel 2 Real - I Like To Move It which appeared in Madagascar in a cover version. Aly-Us - Follow Me which I heard it at a barbecue. Yolanda by Reality when I heard it I believe in one of my relatives car. Point being that this label basically made me become a huge House head. Unfortunately for todays standards, it’s not as known much, but it had a huge impact in the house music community and artists alike. I own like around 24ish Strictly records. I do have a con which isn’t much of a major issue, but why did they remove the 33 1/3 RPM after S.R.-1 - Da Rhythm (SR1283) and add the barcode on Black Orchids Rockin-N-Rhythm (SR1284)? It doesn’t make sense how they remove it since it can get confusing… Those are like my only cons. There are huge load of records that I still need to collect and explore.. My dream is to own every single Strictly record possible. I own the Strictly sweater which is great, but expensive. Anyways I hope this review is good enough for you to form your own opinions. LONG LIVE STRICTLY RHYTHM! Thanks!
            • 808-MAN's avatar
              808-MAN
              Edited 2 years ago
              I have about 160 Strictly EPs. I class Strictly as one of the pioneers of American house music for sure. There isnt 1 single DJ from back in the day who hasnt dropped the needle on a Strictly track and thats a fact. I knew of 1 dDJ who played After Hours-Waterfall over and over until the record had no grooves left, then the record got used as a frisbee somewhere over Blackpools Central Pier. Who knows might still be there! lol. For me its Rhythm Warfare-Two Notches, Boriqua Posse,House 2 House-Boom is a proper mellow one, Tribal Confusion! or you might LUV DANCIN or have an OBSESSION with FLESH or like to TIME TRAVEL and turn off the light and listen to VOICES IN THE DARK, others might TAKE A CHANCE and UNLEASH THE GROOVE, one night he might take too many pills and say GOT ME BURNIN UP, or pills might be shite so he will say GIMME SOME MORE lol.theres loads. Classic Record Label!. All those crap comments about mediocre records etc lol theres mediocre records on every label. Discomagic out of Italy had classics and mediocre, even shite tracks on. Strictly is a classic in its own right 89-95 defo. I wouldnt know about the bullshit that came after 95 as i love underground not chart.
              • GoodNF's avatar
                GoodNF
                My first encounter with Strictly Rhythm (SR) as a label was when Belgian record company Who's That Beat? was willing to release Photon Inc. Featuring Paula Brion - Generate Power in our country (The Netherlands). At that time, I did not know what the original label of the tune was, only that it was a departure from what I usually heard early 1992. It was the era of minimal house (Speedy J., Ultimate Seduction) and techno rave (T99, L.A. Style etc.) to the point of becoming painfully ridiculous ("Rode schoentjes" and all those rip-offs). A local record shop suggested me to listen to Bang The Rhythm - A Go Bang! Compilation Of Strictly Rhythm Club Classics and although this was already going towards my preferred sound, it did not get me (yet). Dutch label Natural released Aly-Us - Follow Me, but this was a bit too soft. Reel 2 Real Featuring Erick Morillo - The New Anthem in its Union City mix was more like it. But at that time, SR already released more than 100 vinyls, most of them ignored by our country, and it seemed to me that apart from aforementioned label departments and record shop crews, the only person in our country showing a slight bit of interest for the label was me...

                Early 1993, Fresh Fruit started their business and it became one of my favourite labels. I went on listening to Rave Radio where Ronald Molendijk was mixing for an hour; among the tracks I recognised were tracks from the Harddrive EP and the MK dub of Chatman - New Thang, but the track that really got me was Deep Soul - The Rhythmz in its Native mix. This was a track that, edited down to 3-4 minutes, I would love to hear a couple of times a day on the radio! The year would provide many more interesting SR tracks, but I had to wait until 1994 before they got released.

                1994 was SR's breakthrough year in our country, with a tsunami of excellent releases: to begin with Jack & Jill - You Make Me Feel (Mighty Fierce), Reality - Yolanda, George Morel - Morel's Grooves Part 4 (thanks to ZYX, a CDM version of all of them was available in our country). Fresh Fruit remixed South Street Player - (Who?) Keeps Changing Your Mind, but the by far biggest crossover hit SR ever accomplished was Reel 2 Real Featuring The Mad Stuntman - I Like To Move It. Although it is probably the cheesiest record SR ever released, it seemed to open the doors to many of us. Dutch record companies started to gain interest in the label, with CDM releases of Smooth Touch - House Of Love (In My House), Barbara Tucker - Beautiful People, River Ocean Featuring India - Love & Happiness (Yemaya Y Ochún) - The Tribal EP and The Boss - Congo. ZYX were releasing compilations like Various - Strictly House and the series This Is Strictly Rhythm (2).
                The aforementioned Fresh Fruit were causing a boomerang effect when SR themselves were releasing an album full of Brazil-flavoured tracks (Strictly Rhythm's Latin Thang) similar to their track "Give It Up", and their Fresh Tunes - Do You Know What I Mean? saw a SR release; the second ever release SR licensed after Djaimin - Give You. Tracks like Circle Children - Indonesia / Mamba Mama and Full Swing (3) - Choices landed on Dutch mix compilations. Reel 2 Real scored several follow-ups and the next vocal highlight was Barbara Tucker - I Get Lifted. With the Dutch remix package of Armand Van Helden - Witch Doktor, the perfect blend between the New York sound and the Dutch sound seemed to be made.
                And the year ended with pretty much all highlights included on This Is Strictly Rhythm - Volume 4; even though most of tracks there were edited, they were long enough for inclusion in a DJ mix set. Highlight of that comp was Loop 7 - The Theme in its Legend version; I do not understand why this was not picked up in other countries.

                1995 started with me digging up the compilation Down, Deep + Dark so I had that Deep Soul track finally on CD. However, the label seemed to move towards more techno-oriented styles, most notably with the remixes of Josh Wink - Higher State Of Consciousness and George Acosta's outfit Planet Soul - Set U Free. In the same league were The Mole People - Break Night, King Maurice - Got Me Burning Up and DJ EFX - Give 'em Panik EP (most notably the track "München, Köln, Berlin"). The more soulful stuff is found on Barbara Tucker - Stay Together and Moné - We Can Make It. Morel's Grooves Part 8 - Officer Where's Your Brother? (Get Her) was the first Morel's Groove released as a single in our country, but it was not his best effort (I prefer vol. 7 myself). With This Is Strictly Rhythm - Volume Five, I had all the highlights of the year together, and one of SR's sublabels provided another highlight: Ruffneck Featuring Yavahn - Everybody Be Somebody.

                1996 started with one of the label's highlights: Black Magic - Freedom (Make It Funky), a track that would be released in our country at the end of the year. However, the label achieved the most fame with remixes of earlier tracks: Lil Mo' Yin Yang - Reach received a stunning remix package with new mixes by Basement Jaxx and Alcatraz, with Higher State Of Consciousness (The European Remixes), Josh Wink received even more attention, and one of Morel's Grooves got vocalised: George Morel Featuring Heather Wildman - Let's Groove. Roger Sanchez recycled an old Gibson Brothers hit on El Mariachi - Cuba. Reel 2 Real came up with Reel 2 Real - Are You Ready For Some More? and two other singles, but it seemed as if we did not need more.

                1997's highlight was undoubtedly Ultra Naté - Free, and Smooth Touch - Tripping also got a Dutch release. But overall, our interest in the label started to fade. House was gradually replaced here by trance; follow-ups from Black Magic and Moné did not make any impact. Most notable tracks of 1997 were unreleased mixes of Hardhead - New York Express and Roger S. disguised as The Funkjunkeez - Got Funk?. It seemed as if the Dutch got the funk, SR was no longer responsible for it. People like Daft Punk and Olav Basoski were gradually taking over the dance landscape here, and follow-up singles of Ultra Nate failed to make impact.

                Between 1999-2002, several tracks of the label made impact here, but unlike the early years, they were not primarily associated with SR's name. Some examples are Powerhouse Featuring Duane Harden - What You Need, Wamdue Project - King Of My Castle, Michael Moog - That Sound and New Vision - (Just) Me And You. Although the label went on focusing on quality instead of quantity, it was only a matter of time when acitivities came to a halt, which was the case in 2002.

                In 2007, the label was given a reboot an although there is certainly material that is interesting, the most attention is made with remixes of the old classics. These tracks, roughly between 1989-1997, are what SR will be remembered for, and although the label also released quite some under-par material, the number of outstanding tracks is large enough to put other labels in the shade.
                • soul.reflector's avatar
                  Wow, what happened to the SR comment section?
                  Early 90's SR is some of the very best house music put on plastic for my money. And yeah, there's cruft to sift through in the catalogue (admittedly more since the frequently mentioned hey-day). Still, for me, there are releases up to the modern ones that make their way into heavy rotation, usually capturing some of the magic of that early sound. As other's have noted, it's worth digging. I agree- one of the best house labels of all time- a lot of this stuff is timeless.
                  • Hellskitch
                    Edited one year ago
                    This is one of the best house music labels of all time. From 1989-1994 is where Strictly was at. I also want to ask a question. Why did they get rid of the 33 1/3 RPM after Sr1283 (SR-1 - Da Rhythm) and I know this might be a silly question, but why did they removed the bricks and add the barcode?
                    • Perennial_Rhythms's avatar
                      Boy a lot of peope talking shit about Strictly Rhythm - maybe its not that SR had a lot of mediocre/bad titles, it's just that you don't have the patience to dig. Beyond the dozens of classic house tracks they released, some underground, some a bit more commercial, there are tons of little sleeper tracks in their catalogue that you can scoop for under $5. I have about 100 of their releases and none of it filler. Yes, some records are for maybe a mix or a particular track, but it's because it delivers and stands up. I think the same complaints could be made of Nervous and King Street. But to imply that Gladys or anyone working for SR was more interested in putting out loads of bullshit than quality music is ignorant and insulting.