When I bought this album, my previous experience of Leftfield was limited to their two most famous tracks: the John Lydon lead Open Up and the legendary Guiness advert. However, their reputation as innovators and intelligent musicians was confirmed as soon as I put the CD on.
Ten tracks; not a long album, but still a more varied one than most dance CDs, and there's not a hint of filler. Leftfield mix pounding techno, edgy rapping and soulfull chill-out togethor passionately. Because the tempo of the album varies there are natural stand-out tracks. At times the album sounds like The Future Sound of London, at others it is more familiar to fans of The Prodigy.
The bassline of Phat Planet must stand-out as one of the most instantly recognisable musical pieces of the last ten years. Even today, people will recognise it instantly, despite the fact it's only claim to fame was a 30 second beer advert over five years ago. As break-beat driven techno goes, I struggle to think of another track that matches it.
The album's big single, Afrika Shox, guest-starring the legendary Afrika Bambaataa is space-age big-beat with some incredible vocals. The live rapping blends with an incredible vocoded voice. Dub Gusset, 6/8 War and Double Flash are all pounding dub techno that are best appreciated through a good pair of sub-woofers.
Away from this hard edged dance-floor filling music, there is another side to Leftfield that is, in its own way, just as powerful. The spaced-out singing of Swords, the warm strings of El Cid and the blissfull Rino's Prayer may not have cement-cracking basslines or awe-inspiring break-beats, but their musical strength is just as strong.
Overall, for fans of artists like FSOL, Prodigy and Underworld, Rhythmn & Stealth is an absolutely essential purchase.