For years we have fallen in love with many dance tunes. Their rhythmic beats, the throbbing bass and the soaring vocals from different artists world wide. Now there comes an album which will tip the dance world on it's head and bring in a new set of fans to the fold. Unclubbed is a stunning piece of acoustic dance tunes with some of the guest vocalists today. Contributing artists include Sam Obernik (know for working with Tim Deluxe and Linus Love), Justine Suissa (Armin Van Buuren), Abigail Bailey (Tom Novy and Soul Central), and Andrew Roachford (creator of the band Roachford).
From the opening track Sing It Back which was originally made famous by Moloko, it become apparent that the album is not going to be like anything else you've ever heard. The plucking of the Spanish guitar, the simplistic use of the keyboard and the breathy, though somewhat nasal, vocals of Lizzy Pattison set a relaxed and chilled out atmosphere that endures the length of the album.
Following in this path is Abigail Bailey with her version of Finally as made famous by Kings of Tomorrow featuring Julie McKnight. Hearing the contrast from the long time club favourite to this stunning rendition is breath taking. Bailey has featured on many artists tracks and always delivered a high quality performance. This is no different with her vocals perfectly suited to an acoustic project. Towards the end of the track, more instruments kick in the give a musical climax blending guitar, drums and keyboards perfectly.
A happy surprise inclusion on the album is the Deee-Lite classic Groove Is In The Heart. Vocalist Bess Cavendish gives the track her best and catches some of the vocal stylings of original singer Lady Miss Kier. That's where the similarity ends. The track has been stripped back, and then reconstructed. The track is full of emotion and an easy recognizable riff that will appeal to even the most devout fan.
The personal highlight for the album was the stunning rendition of Where Loves Lives. Alison Limerick can never be replaced or replicated so Rita Campbell had her work cut out for her from the outset. There is something sublime about Campbell's performance, her earnest vocals. There are no vocal gymnastics, no attempt to impress an audience. Campbell performs the song as though she has been performing it all her life. The delivery is smooth and effortless. Couple this vocal delivery with the stunning musical accompaniment by acoustic guitar, piano and even a few subtle finger clicks at varying points of the song, this track just shines brightly above the others.
Playing around the clubs since mid-2000 is the instantly recognizable Touch Me by Rui Da Silva. It's inclusion on the album incites some hesitation. We've all partied to the original, we've all made eyes at some random across the dance floor to the song and now we've got a brand new take. Abigail Bailey takes on the track with diligence and, as always, a high quality performance. Sitting back, there is a simple elegance to this rendition and it's quite easy on the ear. Unfortunately, it lacks the excitement that astonished us with the original. It almost feels like a by the book ambient mix that could have been released with the original track.
So where were you in 2001 when you first heard the melodious voice of Nadia Ali as she performed iiO's most famous track Rapture? The UnClubbed team have teamed up with Sam Obernik and taken on another song that was a massive hit world wide. They have successfully remade the song, and this time, they haven't slowed the song. It keeps the same moving pace that featured in the original but instead of synthesized music, the excited guitar playing and percussion don't allow for dwelling at any point of the song. The only downside to the song is that while Ali has a very rich melodious voice, Obernik's voice is more thin and reedy which may appeal to some but won't sway some of the die hard fans.
Even Australia's own Sneaky Sound System gets their work remade with Pictures being reimaged by Zoe Durrant. With the guitar opening, the song is easily recognizable without any effort. Where Miss Connie tends to sound like she's yelling throughout the song, Durrant's performance is a lot smoother and calmer. The primary instrument throughout the version is a guitar and limited percussion as background. It makes the track feel very relaxed and could easily blend in with many of the track available on the radio today.
With Everything But The Girl's rendition of Missing already having an acoustic and ambient component to it, the interpretation included on the album was going to be interesting from the outset. The guitar features more heavily throughout the UnClubbed cover as compared to the original with more instruments like a tambourine coming in later in the track. It was always going to be hard to find a voice to match Tracey Thorn's but it would appear the team have done it by bringing Justine Suissa into the fold. She has the same haunting and wistful tones that shot Thorn into the spotlight all those years ago. The overall effect of the song is true to the original version, not the Todd Terry Remix which was released as a single which everyone seems to expect. The track has it's merits and is certainly well worth a listen.
The final track is Mezmerized 09 which features the vocals again of Zoe Durrant. Gone are the break beats of The Click's original version. Now we have a keyboard mimicking a church organ, Durrant's gentle vocal stylings and the alternatively plucking and strumming of an acoustic guitar. This is the perfect example of what the idea behind UnClubbed. The unadulterated beauty of acoustic instruments accompanying the stunning vocals provided blend to create a truly spectacular track.
Behind every club anthem is a beautiful track just waiting to be unearthed. They have stripped it all back, they have laid it bare and then built it again from the base up. The marriage between the vocals and acoustic instruments to recreate a softer version of a club classic. The album is laid back and chilled out, not to mention perfect for Sunday recovery when you want to listen to your club tracks but can't handle the throbbing bass any longer. Countless amounts of time and effort have very obviously been put into the creation of UnClubbed and it is a worthy legacy of all the tracks that have been reimagined and reconstructed for this release.