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Paul Oakenfold - A Lively Mind

Paul Oakenfold, A Lively Mind

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE new album from super-DJ Paul Oakenfold is very much a mixed bag and nowhere near as adventurous as his last offering for Perfecto, Bunkka.

When it’s good, it’s great but the latter half, in particular, gets stuck in a bland dance format that owes its inspiration to the big club sound of Ibiza, Miami and Amsterdam.

In commercial terms, Oakenfold has clearly done his research and A Lively Mind caters for the mainstream dance scene in spectacular fashion, delivering several big dance-floor pleasers that are sure to go down a storm on his Summer DJ circuit.

But it works best when being more creatively adventurous, such as on the former single, Faster Killy Pussycat, that dropped a surprisingly top-notch set of vocals from Sin City actress Brittany Murphy.

As with Bunkka, the album features plenty of collaborations from the likes of Spitfire, Bad Apples and Ryan Tedder. But it comes alive during workouts with Pharrell Williams and hip-hop legend, Grandmaster Flash.

Hence, while tracks like Save The Last Trance For Me and Vulnerable are content to push out routine dance beats and synth sounds, it’s the more expansive likes of Set It Off and Amsterdam that work better.

The use of clever samples also finds Oakenfold exercising the lively mind of the title, dropping some smart homages to the likes of The Rolling Stones, The KLF and

Final track Feed Your Mind, for instance, features a smart collision of indie-rock and dance that is augmented by a ‘woo hoo’ reference to the Stones’ classic Sympathy For The Devil.

While Switch On is a clever fusion of ultra-snappy beats and snazzy guitars that flit between T-Rex’s 20th Century Boy and Oakenfold’s own Ready Steady Go that was employed to such memorable effect in the movie The Bourne Identity.

The dance-fixated Amsterdam may reside in Ibiza territory but unlike Save The Last Trance… it cleverly soundchecks past classics – most notably the KLF’s What Time Is Love late on.

Memorable, too, is opening track Faster Kill Pussycat which finds Murphy adopting a classy, sassy femme-fatale set of vocals that sounds surprisingly reminiscent of Pink.

While Grandmaster Flash’s appearance on Set It Off is a clever fusion of big beat dance and funky hip-hop that refuses to waste the opportunity presented by teaming up with one of hip-hop’s icons. It also cleverly tips its hat to the synth-heavy sound of 80s cuts from the likes of Paul Hardcastle.

Elsewhere, however, there’s a few too many bland performers that exist for no other reason than to pack the dance-floors of the Ibiza super-clubs. Not Over and Praise The Lord being prime examples (the latter, especially, emerging as something that might crop up on the soundtrack to Bad Boys III).

The net result is that A Lively Mind stops some way short of being a truly great dance album. It’s just plain ordinary. From someone of Oakenfold’s stature, we were expecting so much more…

Track listing:

  1. Faster Kill Pussycat – Oakenfold, Paul & Brittany Murphy
  2. No Compromise – Oakenfold, Paul & Spitfire
  3. Sex ‘n’ Money – Oakenfold, Paul & Pharrell Williams
  4. Switch On – Oakenfold, Paul
  5. Amsterdam – Oakenfold, Paul
  6. Set It Off – Oakenfold, Paul & Grandmaster Flash
  7. Way I Feel – Oakenfold, Paul & Ryan Tedder
  8. Praise The Lord – Oakenfold, Paul
  9. Save The Last Trance For Me – Oakenfold, Paul
  10. Not Over – Oakenfold, Paul & Ryan Tedder
  11. Vulnerable – Oakenfold, Paul & Bad Apples
  12. Feed Your Mind – Oakenfold, Paul & Spitfire