38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Electro: the Definitive Electro and Hip Hop Collection (Audio CD)
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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Initial post: 15 Nov 2009 09:34:37 GMT
Simon F. says:
It's a fact that the original Streetsounds Electro/Hip Hop albums will probably never see the light of day again. Following the collapse of the label (for the second time) all the master pressings are now in hands of the Official Receiver, probably locked up in a very strong vault somewhere so hang on to your originals. Not only are they the best, but they are increasing in value!
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