Ever since last year's reissue of its 1989 debut album and the subsequent release of the retrospective Resurrection LP, Virgo Four has seen a steady rise in the popularity of its legend. The Chicago house production outfit comprised of Merwyn Sanders and Eric Lewis never really had too many releases in Chi-town's heyday of '85-'89, their only official releases being the Do You Know Who You Are EP on Trax Records and the shadowy Virgo LP on London's Radical Records. Though both releases were well received and musically innovative, they were never remembered as fondly as say, the unrelated Virgo project by Marshall Jefferson, Michael A. Smith (a.k.a. Adonis), and Vince Lawrence (a.k.a. Z Factor). All that is irrelevant now, however, as Sanders and Lewis have had much of their unreleased catalog unearthed and issued and the duo is being celebrated as a lost but recently found aspect of Chicago's masterclass. It's this newly found status that has encouraged Rush Hour to continue to release works by and related to the group, such as this rework EP of moody and vocally driven Resurrection album cut, "It's a Crime."
Comprised of three tracks, It's a Crime features the original cut, a deep-house remix by Hunee, and a complete overhaul by Caribou. The EP is a solid outing on all fronts, due in large part to the strength of the original material, although the novelty and scope of the two reworks is undeniable. Fans of Virgo Four will recognize that "It's a Crime" functions as a more-or-less vocal rendition of the classic "Do You Know Who You Are," maintaining a similarly sparse and loose vibe that is distinctly Chicago, with deep pads and noodly—but jazzy—leads. However, where the EP really shines is in the utility of the Hunee and Caribou versions. With the "Hunee Go Underground Remix," you get a tight blend between classic Chicago house and Jersey garage by way of—what sounds like—an interpolated bassline from Ly's classic, "Back 2 Zanzibar." Going in a completely different direction is Caribou's complete overhaul of the song, which translates Virgo Four into a wholly alien, indie-electronic world by way of Dan Snaith's fresh and whispery vocal take. Along the way, he also teases the song into an eight-minute epic with a peak defined by 303 squelching and detuned digital synthesis.
As a whole, the EP works well, its three tunes covering enough ground to keep the experience novel from a pure listening perspective. From a DJ perspective, the release is doubly effective, as the variation in the individual tunes keeps the EP useful for a variety of situations from a mid-set groove (the Hunee Mix) to a possible peak (Caribou). All told, It's a Crime is a winner that will only continue to build on the deserving legend and mystique of Virgo Four.