The story of ESG is an interesting one. The teenage Scroggins sisters from New York were bought instruments by their mother in a an attempt to keep them off the streets and away from trouble. ESG which stands for Emerald, Sapphire and Gold were virtually unknown during their time but somehow managed to influence music in all genres for the next 20 add years. They were purveyor of inept, minimalist funk. Repetition was a cover for the fact that their songs were bereft of much substance but the slivers of ideas they had were ground breaking. Everyone form LCD Soundsystems, A Certain Ratio, Happy Mondays, Luscious Jackson, The Rapture and countless house and hiphop artists owe their careers to ESG.
ESG were really an anomaly. A band who cited influences like Motown, Rufus and Latin rhythms were signed to the same record label (99 Records) with the likes of Liquid Liquid and the Bush Tetras, bands who were at the for front of the post punk movement. They were booked to play in punk clubs and were one of the first bands to play at Manchester’s infamous Hacienda club. They released a smattering of singles and an album in the early 1980’s before being a victim of the litigation that occurred between 99 Records and Sugarhill over the illegal sampling of Liquid Liquid’s Cavern. Although 99 Records one both bands went bankrupt and most of the bands from each label drifted into obscurity. ESG’s music was kept alive during the house revival of helate 1980’s and from time to time compilations were released of their material. But is took the excellent archivists at Soul Jazz to really do ESG justice. South Bronx Story contains everything you really need from ESG’s back catalogue and once again the booklet is a subperb and thus makes this record a travesty to download.