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on 10 August 2004
I was looking forward to dusting down my old Tacchini tracksuit and hunting for a second hand Kangol cap when I first heard about the release of this compilation. What with the return of Morgan Khan, such a figurehead in the 1980's dance scene, a well chosen selection of some of the best remembered, often unheard anymore 80's hip hop - a new DJ with a big reputation, surely it just couldn't fail?
'Back in the day', the Street Sounds label not only put out regular compilation albums of the latest jazz funk, soul smashes of the day at a very affordable price (even in 1984, £3.99 was a bargain). Not only these, but he also released the Electro series giving the public ample opportunity to body pop in their crib to a new sound: Hip-Hop, a music style very much in its infancy and at its most progressive. The series pioneered the mix album and benefited from a truly remarkable DJ; Mastermind, who with great ingenuity, cut, pasted & created some fantastic sounds on his GLI. Again, like the SS releases, these were always full length versions at a tenth of the price it would have cost you to buy the chosen tracks individually from the import shops.
The Very Best of Electro does not live up to Khans or Mastermind's illustrious past. In many places the mixing is unimaginative, as if DJ Swerve was forced to put certain records together rather than blend and splice them into something new. A quick spin backward initiates a new track. A drop on the fader ends another. When you think of the superb DJ's in force at the time of many of these releases - Cash Money, Flash, Scott La Rock, this set has none of their style or any of the cohesion in their mixing whatsoever.
The second major problem is the format of the tracks themselves. Hip Hop embraced the 12" single, The full-length versions often incorporated further breaks, extended vocals and sustained momentum. Here the record company has chosen quantity rather than quality, as many of the tracks chosen here are in the 7" radio edit versions. Bang Zoom Let's Go Go, by The Real Roxanne is almost completely without the fun elements that made it such a unique piece of work. Beatbox, by the Art of Noise barely pokes its head out of the sand before we are rushed clumsily into the next track.
Finally DJ Swerve just misses too many tricks. I've heard hundreds of mix tapes that make better use of such classics as the Beastie Boys Hold It Now Hit it or Eric B's Paid In Full. Whether he was restricted in using long running mixing or told not to 'use' the records too often we can only guess. There are patches of skill, but in its entirety it smacks of compromise.
Leaving the mixing aside, the album earns its stars by refuting the myth that nothing memorable came out of the dark ages known as the 1980's. It also demonstrates the lack of humour in today's Hip Hop music, which has far to much posture and none of the pizzazz of its eighties descendants. Listen to this CD and ask yourself if you seriously imagine anything like Doug E Fresh's 'The Show' ever being created again?
For a fantastic DJ mixing classic Hip Hop, try to get hold of 'Hip Hop Don't Stop: The Greatest', Mixed by DJ Prime Cuts (of the Scratch Perverts). It's about 5 years old now but infinitely better.
And Morgan - do us all a favour, and re-release the originals. The scratches on my old albums are far from intentional.
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on 12 August 2004
This CD is mixed...a fact that Streetsounds quite conveniently forgot to mention on their main titles. Only when the CD arrived did I see a tiny sticker with even smaller fonts mentioning that the album had been mixed by DJ Swerve. I've no quarrels with DJ Swerve and his mixing. Infact some of the mixing is quite good. On your next compilation please clearly state that the CD is mixed. People, if you want a comprehensive Electro compilation that is not mixed, try Electro Breakdance Vol.1 & 2.
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on 12 August 2004
Owning all the old Electro series on vinyl & it all looking a little worse for wear these days. How delighted was I when I heard about this compilation album. (I usually call them complication albums as when you buy 1 or 2 you tend to double up on tracks) Anyway, from the opening track on disc 1 Afrika Bambaataas Planet Rock to the closing of disc 2 Malcom X No Sell Out. This is an absolute delight for old & new Electro fans. Especially as there's quite alot of hard to get stuff (Doug E Fresh The Show) on this album. It's beautifully mixed by DJ Swerve. It's an album I cannot fault. Highly recommended.
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on 9 May 2014
I have reviewed a number of Streetsounds albums on Amazon based on my own collection from back in the day. I stumbled over this album some years ago and was totally surprised that it had been released as it had been sometime since a new Electro had been available. I have read the other reviews on this and am fairly disappointed with the negatives.

Heres what I agree with, the mixing is not of the same style as the original series but then why should it be, this is a modern album using 20 year old material and of course DJ Swerve is going to have his own ideas on how to put them together.

The number of tracks is a lot more than usual, 7" versions or not, this is after all a definitive collection it says so on the cover. Electro 13 had a tonne of tracks on it, Crucial Electro 3 the same not to mention New York vs LA beats and they were all restricted by the time constaints of vinyl.

Interestingly no one has pointed out the the cover art is typically not retro Electro style, but who cares.

All that aside, what do you actually get? Well, it is a defintive collection of good tunes that repesented the Electro genre from the 80's. It is a Streetsounds album of merit as it feels of the time with the twist of a new flavour. To be honest I don't want to hear my old albums when I buy a new one, I want to hear new versions of the old, mixes done in different ways, forgotten gems resurected for a modern listener. There is no injustice here, this is a good representation of a time long forgotten.

So why the four stars? Nothing is perfect, not all the content is great in my opinion, but thats the point of a compilation and all told its a well executed mix of some old skool greats. Its just a shame that the cover art is so radically different to the original series but that is just my opinion.
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on 15 December 2015
Brought back so many memories of younger days.

Some truly brilliant tracks (Let the Music Play, Rock the Bells, Planet Rock...) with a few not so good ones in between but a fair representation of a particular moment in time.
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on 11 August 2004
of all the albums featuring old skool hip hop beats then this should be the one.most of the the tunes on this cd are what shaped and influenced hip hop artists of today from the classic al naayfish to the solid hip hop beats of the great south bronx by the legendary boogie down production with the late and sadly missed scott la has all the tunes you need to take a history lesson in the old skool hip hop genre and a few later electro tunes flung into the mix.So buy this cd and take a journey way back to when hip hop was its own musical genre and not flung in the same catagory as garage/rnb,the genre we now like to call URBAN .
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on 10 March 2014
this album is well mixed and it covers no less then 9 electro albums it is a continuous mix and it took me straight back to my b boy times and i know i am writing this review in 2014 but this album is top notch i have owned this from 1997 i saw it on offer for £2.99 AND THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST BARGAIN I HAVE EVER BOUGHT. EVERY ONE WHO LOVES OLD SCHOOL SHOULD GET THIS ALBUM IT DESERVES THE FULL 5 STARS ANYONE WHO GIVES THIS LESS THEN 4 STARS ARE WACK AND DON'T UNDERSTAND HIP HOP THE MIX FROM THE BRONX INTO SOUTH BRONX IS ROUGH AND THE WAY HE MIXES MARLY MARL He Cut's So Fresh. THE WAY THIS CUTS IN FROM PAC MAN IS DOPE AND THEN THE WAY AMITYVILLE KICKS IN, THE MIX IS SO SMOOTH U CAN HARDLY TELL THE TRACK HAS CHANGED. MAN ENOUGH SAID THIS IS FOR REAL HIP HOPERS
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on 10 February 2008
The first annoyance is that all the tracks are mixed. Now this isn't surprising as it's what you got on the original 80's Electro's. Only problem is that the mixing on the originals was smooth and actually added a quality to the album. I still remember an excellent transition between Chris the Glove Taylor's Itchiban Scratch to the B Boys Stick up Kid (Street Sounds Electro 7) and that was over 20 years ago (Yes I feel old - but I was at school). On this compilation the tracks seem to have been scratched-mixed in a hurry. Why scratch the beginning of Rockit when the beginning is a scratch???? Some of the scratching also puts the tracks out of time and seems misplaced at times.

Next problem is the length of the tracks. Fitting 24 on each CD can't be done if you want to have the full length originals so now your left with radio edit short versions. Again the original Electro albums had 3 or 4 tracks on each side so you were never short changed.

Get this collection if you want to listen to some old school electro gems but not if you're hoping to get something as good as the original Street Sounds Electro albums.
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on 14 December 2007
For many individuals of a certain age mention of the original 'Streetsounds Electro' albums will lead to a broad smile developing and numerous memories of attempting to move and groove to many of the records presented in this collection - perhaps when the body was leaner and younger and more forgiving of physical exertion! This collection, presented by Morgan Khan (the man responsible for the original series) appears to be an attempt to reintroduce some of the records from the period originally presented as being 'Electro' (or more properly 'Electro-Funk'), and was originally planned to coincide with a planned UK Fresh event - itself drawing on the heritage of Khan's and Capital Radio's 'UK Fresh '86'.

In quantitative terms the track listing appears to be impressive, 24 tracks on each cd, and a quick scan of the titles reveals tracks which should be immediately recognisable - 'Planet Rock', 'Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)','Hip Hop Bee Bop (Don't Stop), and which would be accepted by period purists as belonging to the phase in Hip Hop known as 'Electro'/ 'Electro-Funk'. But it will also become immediately clear that there are a number of tracks included that were released later than the generally accepted period for 'Electro-Funk', having been drawn from a time when a number of Hip Hop artists and producers had decided to return to pillaging the records and sounds(most notably) provided by James Brown et al in a return to the 'breaks based' heritage of Hip Hop. The irony of this was, of course, that much of the technology used to revisit and sample the breaks drew on the experience of many of the pioneering Electro producers, and also (ultimatley) saw Hip Hop move away from its reliance on a DJ.

It is likely that the individuals who remember these records from the first time around will have fond memories of the mixing and scratching of Max and Dave and Herbie 'Mastermind', and will also probably have a nuanced understanding of the many subtleties of scratching and mixing(for many UK based readers the 'Streetsounds Electro' compilations would have represented their first experiences of Hip Hop culture).

Given this fine heritage, of which Khan can still be justifiably proud, expectations will be understandably high for the potential purchaser. But does it work?

To these ears the answer is a qualified 'no'. If you grew up listening to Mastermind and Max and Dave mixing the original collections then you will be hugely disappointed. The mixing and scratching is perfunctory, betraying either a lack of interest on the part of DJ Swerve or lack of quality control by Khan. Some might argue that given such a relatively high number of tracks to mix this might be excusable - to such individuals a quick listen to 'Streetsounds Electro 13' and Mastermind's mix on 'Streetsounds NY vs LA Beats should prove informative. This fact isn't helped by the varying sound quality of the collection or the obvious use of cds to mix this complilation. Indeed you are forced to asked why Khan didn't perhaps ask 'Mastermind' to take part in this project?

These issues aside, you do get the opportunity to listen to a wide range of tracks which provide an insight in to just how varied 'Electro/Electro-Funk' and Hip Hop could once be. Many of the tracks are from a time when the music could be humorous, exciting, and when resorting to tired cliches about race,sex or money wasn't necessary. And given the length of time that has elapsed since their original release, many will still make you smile and make you want to move......

So. If you are prepared to accept the relatively poor mixing and scratching and abandon a relatively purist position regarding track inclusion this can represent a useful excercise in nostalgia. If this represents your first foray in to this music then enjoy it for what it is and perhaps consider looking further - try listening to 'Mastercuts: Electro Volume 1' (still widely available on cd - vinyl was issued), 'Streetsounds: The Best of Electro Volume 1', which contains full length versions of some of the tracks included here (originally released on cd and vinyl)or even look for some of the original 'Streetsounds Electro' compilations - which can still be found on vinyl.
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on 9 August 2004
Awesome CD from the origanal Street Sounds man , Morgan Khan. All those classics are here , from Planet Rock to Rock it , The Packman , Clear , Breakers Revenge etc . 48 great tracks...really took me back....listening to this I was 13 again roaming my housing estate with my 'Beat Box' on full blast !
If you remember Mike Allens electro show on Capital you'll love the tracks here. The only surprise is it's not mixed by Mastermind .
Looking forward to volume 2 .
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