Theo Parrish’s first 12-inch release is an artifact from a time before he had a flock of studio musicians waiting in the wings, and little more than a record collection and a sampler: “I didn’t have access to a bass player when I started, or a keyboard player, a live drummer and so on and so forth. But I did have a record and an SP-1200. It was very, very simple: the idea of catching something that would be good to expand on and roll with it.” Repetition is the name of the game on Baby Steps, the astutely-titled EP that sees Theo cautiously emerging from under the wing of Moodymann (who originally released “Lake Shore Drive” as the B-side to his Inspirations From A Small Black Church On The Eastside Of Detroit EP in ’95) and establishing a sound that is wholly his own; an off-kilter strain of soulful house that could only have emanated from a born-and-bred Chicagoan settling down in the motor city. Theo would offer a more distilled version of this sound on his First Floor LP a couple years later, but Baby Steps offers a snapshot of one of Detroit’s most influential producers finding his footing. By now we all know “Lake Shore Drive,” Theo’s love letter to Chicago, done Detroit-style. “Early Byrd” is a shuffling, side-long roller built on a loop of - yup, you guessed it - Donald Byrd, and an earlier edit of “Walking Thru The Sky,” which was later included on First Floor, first appeared here. Still banging 20 years on; keep this in your bag, you’ll want to play all three tracks over the course of the night. Recommended!
- 2017 repress
- music label: Sound Signature 2017
reviewed by Letters To Theo 12/2017