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The Trip 2 - Tom Middleton

The Trip 2, Tom Middleton

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

EVER since the release of Tom Middleton’s The Trip in 2004, various artists have been putting together their own compilations for the series – some successful, others less so.

But whether it’s been Jarvis Cocker, Snow Patrol or Joey Negro, the albums at the very least succeed in opening your ears to some new listening experiences by managing to dig up artists that aren’t always the most obvious source of inspiration.

Tom Middleton now returns with a sequel of sorts and the good news is that it’s immediately one of the best in the series – a breathtaking mix of classic hip-hop, soul, alternative pop and prog rock that provides a genuinely disarming listen.

The Trip 2, like several of its better predecessor, works as both a glorious nostalgia trip through some classic cuts of the past and an eye-opening insight into some of the lesser known artists that have inspired Middleton and co.

What makes this album so special, however, is just how many of the tracks surprise for all the right reasons. Many mix CDs contains moments, or songs, that have you reaching for the skip button or scratching your head in bewilderment. This one will have you wanting to check out most – if not all – of the artists featured for yourselves, confident in the notion that you have just stumbled onto someone worthwhile and new.

Split into two CDs (‘Vertical’ and ‘Horizontal’), Middleton ensures that The Trip 2 displays a healthy disregard for genre from the outset by tossing everything from the theme to TV’s This Is Your Life and The Stereo MC’s Back To The Future to Beck’s Round The Bend and Emiliana Torrini’s Sunny Road into the mix.

Thus, listeners are kept on their toes throughout – dancing around the living room to some funky cuts one minute, and crashing on the sofa for some much-needed chillout the next. That it works so effectively as a combined whole is down to Middleton’s brilliance, confidence and experience as a Trip curator.

Put in his own words: “The Trip 2 is a vertical and a horizontal selection of lifetracks for the iTunes generation. There’s no shortage of nuggets to blend, it’s all about the criteria you use to select and filter. These days for me it’s about purity of emotional content; memorable melodies be they sung or played with strong rhythmic backbones. I’m not really concerned with the latest trends in sonic style, only timeless tunes from the present and recent past that just simply need to be heard and shared.”

Highlights include Caveman’s I’m Ready, which offers a seemless fusion of old-skool hip-hop with Jimi Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic, the Mark Ronson/Rhymefest version of Air’s whistle-heavy Alpha Beta Gaga, which is a real humdinger, and Lyn Collins’ funky overload Rock Me Again, which combines classic Motown booty-shakin’ with a background sample James Brown would be proud of.

For the more mellow inclined, there’s Boards of Canada’s deliciously dreamy Dayvan Cowboy, which washes over you like a beautiful sonic wave, Jakatta’s ultra-mellow and totally cinematic The Other World and Emiliana Torrini’s effortlessly wistful Sunny Road.

Breaks Co-Op’s Duet is another effortlessly beautiful listen, constructed around some simple guitar licks, a low-key string arrangement and some nice beats, while Tangerine Dream’s Love On A Real Train offers a form of prog rock at its ’80s-influenced best.

Beck’s achingly melancholy Round The Bend even succeeds in showing a more downbeat side to this generally breezy artist that may catch many by surprise.

There’s even excerpts from Vangelis’ seminal Blade Runner score thrown in for good measure, making this a musical journey that’s impossible to dislike or ignore. If you request only one compilation album for the approaching Christmas holiday, then make sure it has Tom Middleton’s name on it!

Track listing:
Disc: 1

  1. The Wisp
  2. Dayvan Cowboy
  3. Here’s What’s Left
  4. Transmit Fantastic
  5. Smokin’ With The Motherman
  6. Elle Et Moi
  7. A Special Morning
  8. The Other World
  9. The Cosmic Game
  10. S.I.P.
  11. Archipelago
  12. Sleepy Meadows of Buxton
  13. A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld Radio Version
  14. Love On A Real Train

Disc: 2

  1. Thames TV Ident
  2. This Is Your Life
  3. Listen
  4. Can’t Get Away (From Your Love) Solid Groove Remix
  5. Finally Innocent Sorcerers Mix
  6. Batucada Dub
  7. Mahalageasca Bucovina Dub
  8. Mana’s Bounce
  9. Caribbean Festival Album Version
  10. Bad Tune
  11. What “U” Waiting 4
  12. Follow The Leader Album Version
  13. Rock Me Again & Again & Again & Again & Again & Again Single Version
  14. Family Rap
  15. Alpha Beta Gaga
  16. We Can Fly
  17. Happy People
  18. That’s What Love Does Vincent Montana, Jr. Original Mix
  19. The La La Song
  20. Left Bank Two (Vision On Theme from the Gallery)