So many good things to say about this record, starting with the people on it. Brian Harden has a discography more solid than granite stone – among them, one of the best records ever made in Chicago, Inner Instincts on Nite Life Collective and several with Mike Grant’s Moods & Grooves.
Ellery Cowles is a name I’d lost track of for awhile until tireless promoter of all things tasteful Roy Davis Jr brought him back to my attention. The Collective EP is 3 tracks from Cowles and one from Harden, and each of these guys individually could beat shit down hard in Chicago on wax back in the ’90s. Yet despite the fixation of the world’s producers for words like “Chicago” and “’90s” and how those words fit together, this isn’t a throwback EP or the kind of thing you like because it sounds like something else you already like. “Joy of My Life” is the kind of beautiful track that made Guidance such a great outfit, but with a modern flair all its own – the percussion is lively and that little two note riff holds the whole thing from being just a jam record. Brian Harden’s “The Drive” is a revelation – I want every set I hear for the next 60 days to start with this track, which seems to turn the ignition and roll into a groove. This is a punchy, classy release that takes two veterans of a thousand Chicago nights and puts them back where they belong at centerstage.