on 18 January 2007
After the unpopular release of Bonkers 7 way back in 1999, who would have thought the compilation would be into its 17th edition over 7 years later?
'Best of Bonkers' brings together 65 all-time hardcore anthems in one colourfully boxed package for a very reasonable price.
There are 3 CDs, each featuring a continuous mix from various DJs. Every CD has a different flavour, so it is always a good idea in these types of reviews to have a little rundown of what you can expect from each mix!
CD1 - DJ Hixxy, a hardcore veteran, has teamed up with the relative newcomer Re-Con for this edition of the series. Some of the old happy hardcore classics you might remember from the mid-nineties have been dusted off and bravely thrown in alongside some early Dutch material that has never been heard on the compilations before, resulting in a very vocal, hands-in-the-air type mix that rounds up with a more European edge. Sadly, the one thing DJ Hixxy has not revived is his 3-turntable mixing skills that hark back to the same era as the tracklisting.
CD2 sees the introduction of DJ Druid to the series, alongside his friend and series regular, Sharkey. This mix stands out to me as perhaps the best of the three - down to the use of a widely varied tracklist that still manages to retain a flow to it, despite ranging from happy hardcore to dark trancecore/freeform sounds. With the most tracks of all 3 CDs, Sharkey and Druid have cut the track times down to around 3 minutes, so there isn't much of a break from the beatmatching, but this adds a frantic feel and stops any of the tracks dragging on for too long - you get the best bit of each track and then a mix into the best bit of another track.
Finally - CD3 is the work of well known DJ, Scott Brown. A quick glance at the tracklist is enough to tell you that he's a big fan of his own work - no less than 15 of the 20 tracks are by him, and another track is a remix he has produced for Sy & Unknown. It's lucky then, that he happens to be a rather good producer. His tracks comprise compact basslines, punchy kickdrums and uplifting yet simplistic melodies, which relate back to the fantastic bouncy techno sounds of early '90s Scotland. The mix evolves into aggressive Dutch-style Gabber at the end, adding another dimension to the mix. Sadly, there are a lot of great bouncy tunes from the early days that Scott Brown could have included, but it would seem that newer material has been favoured here.
So, in overview? I don't think any Bonkers or hardcore fan should go without this CD set - there are good offerings from Hixxy & Re-Con, and Scott Brown too - but where they slip up in certain aspects, the mix from Sharkey and Druid reminds you just why you bought the CDs in the first place - non stop hardcore classics.
on 22 January 2007
Hixxy and Re-Con focus on the older tunes. It's a nice mix, and the sound is beefier than on, say, Bonkers (1). Lots of tunes I hadn't heard before, plenty of piano and vocals, just the way I like it. Second time through, I notice how well it hangs together. Hixxy's mixes often strike me as okay but nothing flash the first time through, and that could show just how cleverly the tunes have been sequenced and blended. I wish 'Techno Storm' had been a tad longer though.
Druid and Sharkey seem to have cherrypicked from everywhere. They're on a journey, and pull a whole range of styles and rhythms into a very cohesive set. They don't always use the obvious sections of a tune, and throw in some remixes. Nu Energy Collective stuff is prominent, and that's a very good thing. Nothing out of place; no dead space. This would be my favourite by a nose.
Scott Brown does the Scott Brown thing. Just under 60 minutes worth, and it all sounds very familiar. Very listenable though, and covers his contributions to the last half-dozen albums. Given the other two discs run at just under EIGHTY minutes, it feels a bit like an add-on.
So, all in all, worth getting, especially if you don't have the early compilations. Biggest disappointment: no Dougal.
on 28 July 2012
This is my first review of anything on Amazon. So apologies if I repeat what has already been said about this CD, but being a fan of literally all hardcore genres that have ever existed, I think this is the perfect CD for me to review.... This CD got some criticism from critics and fans alike but in my opinion, this is one of the best ones to own and I will explain why. Here goes....
Hixxy has teamed up with Re-Con. Surprise to me considering Re-Con hasn't been there from the start. They start off with a few tracks that never appeared on Bonkers, but will instantly take you back to the early days. Plenty of pianos, plenty of female vocals and bouncy tunes. It is very easy on the ears and is guaranteed to have you singing along throughout. The second half sees the introduction of early gabber material to the series. Fans of the old Thunderdome & Earthquake series and the label I,D& T will love this. Quicker and harsher beats than the first half and the mixing is wait for it... surprisingly good. It also stops the mix from going flat with happy stuff, but the one criticism I have of it is the lack of labels showcased. Ruffneck is a good label don't get me wrong, but there are plenty of other labels that never appeared. Mokum, Mid-Town, BZRK where are you?
Overall score: 9/10... Hixxy & Re-Con dust off some really great tunes that were seemingly forgotten about. The only thing that stops it getting a perfect 10 is the gabber selection.
Great tracks to watch out for: JDS- Higher Love (Slipmatt Remix), Force & Styles- Wonderland, Critical Mass- Burnin Love (DJ Weirdo & DJ Sim 173.683 Remix)
A few great tracks that are not on there that could have been: Hixxy & Bananaman- Together Forever, Q-Tex- The Power Of Love, DJ Weirdo & Phil Omanski- Young Birds, Bertocucci Feranzano- XTC Love
Sharkey has teamed up with Druid... (No Kevin Energy... SHOCK HORROR!!!). Hold on a minute, before you have a heart attack, it's really not that bad at all. In fact, it sounds BETTER than what he could have done with Kevin, or at least I believe so. This is stylistically the best CD of all 3. Every sound Sharkey has ever pioneered is showcased on this CD and you wont get bored of it because the tracks are cut to around 3 minutes max. Yes you get Happy Hardcore, Trancecore and a few of his recent exploits with the Nu Energy Collective all crammed into one very dark and acidic mix that will never cease to amaze you. No song sounds the same and at least a dozen of the artists Sharkey has worked with from the past to today make an appearance to please your ears.
Overall score: 10/10.. Sharkey & Druid come up with a mix that is like the very finest bottle of champagne. Bright, bubbly and above all... FUN! This is the best mix on the CD by a long way.
Great tracks to watch out for: Sharkey- The Awakening, DJ Fury- Lemonade Raygun, CLSM- John Peel Is Not Enough, Sharkey- Product Of Society, Kevin Energy- Vertigo
A few great tracks that are not on there that could have been: Sharkey & Eclipse- The Warning, Eclipse- Devastator, Kevin Energy- The Hustler, DJ Proteus & Kevin Energy- London-Helsinki Underground (K-Complex Remix), Sharkey- Ascending Angels
CD 3 sees legendary Scottish DJ Scott Brown enter the madness with his own unique style, so no surprises he has gone solo with his effort. For those that don't know who Scott Brown is, where the hell have you been? Have you been living in a cave? Lol only joking... This is one for the newer generation of ravers which covers his own label Evolution Records. Let's just say you wont stay still during this mix, it is one massive bounce fest from start to finish and although he cuts the size of his tracks down dramatically (which suits his style I believe) by the time 'Boomstick' finishes, you will sit down and think 'That was rather good, I want more of this' If when 'Angel Eyes' finishes, your neck is STILL stiff, or the preceding madness wasn't hard enough for you.. (Really?) Scott Brown changes the feel of the entire mix with some HARD gabber material, which will test the limits of your eardrum to the max. Great stuff all round from the master.
Overall Score: 9/10.. The only negative thing I could think of is, is Scott Brown's bouncy style too repetitive? I don't think so because it will definitely keep you moving, plus the tracks are relatively short. Something Scott changed in this mix and it works very well. A solid mix I would say.
Great tracks to watch out for: Scott Brown- Turn Up The Music (Breeze & Styles Remix), Plus System- Neckbreaker, Plus System- This Is How We Do It, Scott Brown- Boomstick
A few great tracks that are not on there that could have been: Interstate- This Is My Bass, Scott Brown- Serial Killer, Scott Brown- Please Don't Cry, Scott Brown & Cat Knight- Flow, Scott Brown & Neophyte- Self Destruction
Compilation score: 9/10.. A very bright and colorful compilation covering virtually all styles of hardcore in some shape or form and it is mixed very well by all DJ's. 3 VERY Minor points which bring this compilations score down:
1. No Dougal (come on he contributed to 8 of the 16 album's at the time of release). Where is he???
2. I would have loved a 2002-2005 upfront CD by either Dougal as mentioned or Breeze & Styles, UFO (I know he didnt mix a Bonkers CD but he can mix) or someone from that time period. Scott Brown already covered the said period but its mostly his own work (not that its a bad thing as I mentioned earlier), somebody could have thrown together an extra mix with tracks used on Hixxy, Breeze & Styles & Dougal's CD's from Bonkers 8 onwards. It would have made this compilation complete, but its only a small point.
3. As I mentioned earlier, as much as I love Ruffneck Records, and as good as the mixing and selection of the tracks are, I would have liked a bit more variety with Hixxy & Re-Con's gabber selection. For example, a few tracks from the legendary producers The Prophet, 3 Steps Ahead, Paul Elstak or maybe at a push a few old skool beats from Scott Brown (although I guess Scott could have done that himself if he wanted to).
All in all, this should be in every ravers collection. Should be in the hardcore ravers bible.