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Message In The Music: The Ashley Beedle Re-Edits CD+DVD, Box set
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Many of these tunes are appearing on CD for the first time and, as usual, Ashley’s superbly eclectic and wide-ranging taste in music has delivered a project which is jam-packed with innovation and experimentation. CD1 takes a trip through some early 1970’s cult dance rock classics from Family, Ace, Cado Belle, Ruth Copeland and even the Fall before branching into some seriously rhythmic and percussive rare dance classics from Panama, Brainstorm, New York Port Authority, Los Africanos, the 8th Day, Bill Withers & Cymande. CD2 features some awe-inspiring selections from the Soul/Funk/Rare-Groove arena with Brainstorm, Holland-Dozier, Gene Chandler, Donna McGhee, Three Pieces, Switch, The Gap Band, Kyle Auldist, the Astra Nova Orchestra, Doris Duke and Heaven N’ Hell to round off an incredible musical journey. Each and every tune has the usual sure-fire signatures of a top-notch Ashley Beedle re-edit and should easily follow the recent successes of Ashley’s 12” releases, Yardism 1 & 2 (DJ magazine’s Record of the Week for both releases). Also included within the package, will a bonus DVD featuring a full Ashley Beedle interview about the making of Message In The Music with a track-by-track analysis with DJ Magazine’s Ben Murphy grilling Ashley about his studio work and how he became one of the worlds’ foremost Re-Edit experts. Plus we also include a 20 page booklet with sleeve notes by Ben Murphy and exclusive pics of Ashley from a brand new session.
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The main problem here is the song selections - they are just down right dull and totally un-inspiring. To make matters worse, the intros to most of the tracks have been extended on - and on - and on - and on.... and they go nowhere! You think it's gonna build up into some huge disco monster, but at 3:46, the intro is still just plodding along and still going nowhere. The tracks sound like the sort of boring holding music that you get to listen to on the phone when you're waiting to pay your overdue gas bill, only they actually sound BETTER down the phone! Which brings me to my next point...
The production. The sound is very synthetic, very mid-range and very 80's. It's totally devoid of what is behind good disco - soul! There is no punch or guts to the production on these tracks, with a couple of exceptions:
I'm giving this release 1 star for the following:
"I'm a Love Bug" by Donna McGhee, which is a great track though I had it already on one of the Deep Disco Culture releases. The production on the Ashley Beedle edit is actually very good and does have a lot more clarity and punch than the Deep Disco Culture version (which was probably taken straight from the vinyl).
"Whatcha Gonna Do" by Heaven & Hell, which is also a great track, but again I already had this on one of the Tom Moulton Philly Re-Grooved albums (yes, Tom Moulton. Therefore, no further re-mixes required - it would be like re-making Star Wars).
"Touch Sensitive" by The Fall. The Fall are just a great band, but this great track just sounds out of place in this selection. I love a truly eclectic mix, but you've gotta move smoothly through the styles, not just drop it in like a f@rt at a funeral.
This package looked potentially quite promising, but I must admit, when I saw this release was on Harmless, I was a bit dubious - they can be VERY hit and miss. But I thought if there's just one killer track on it, it will make the buy worthwhile. How wrong I was.
If the above mentioned tracks weren't on this package, I'd give it zero stars. If you want some really great top-notch disco, seek out the Disco Love compilations by Al Kent. This one however, is a total AVOID for me. I didn't even bother watching the DVD...
I will just deal with the 4 standouts:
New York Port Authority - "Rainbow" - a little known album track on the Invictus label that is simply sublime in the new version.
Ace - "All That I Need" - blue eyed soul gem from Paul Carrack that hits the right groove.
Gene Chandler - "All About The Paper" - Chi sound soul at its peak with superb instrumentation especially in the break.
Heaven 'n' Hell - "Whatcha Gonna Do" - worth the purchase price alone. Cantering left field soul/disco. Exquisite.
Overall above average hence the 4 stars!
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