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Off The Wall - 10 Years of Wall of Sound


Review: Jack Foley

ONE of the UK's finest independent record labels is celebrating its tenth anniversary and what better way to do it than through a double CD featuring some of its finest moments?

Wall of Sound, which was founded in 1993 with Mark Jones at the helm, helped to launch the careers of the likes of Royksopp, Blak Twang, the Propellerheads and The Wiseguys, among others, and all are present and correct for this cracking compilation.

Highlights, of which there are many, include The Wiseguys' funky Start The Commotion, and Royksopp's unmistakable Eple, which has recently been remixed by Fatboy Slim.

But while the bigger names get things going in grandiose fashion, it is the lesser known names that throw in some of the biggest surprises.

Ceasefire's attitude-laden Trickshot, which features a classic sample from Carlito's Way to get things going, is a lively, hip taste of breakbeats and samples, which is quickly followed by Agent Provocateur's no-less aggressive Red Tape, a full-on assault on the ear drums, with even more beats and electro-guitars.

It is easy to believe that the album could be used to enliven many a house party, as the hits keep on coming, remaining underground or independent enough to keep people guessing - or enquiring as to where they can get hold of it.

There are even quieter, but no less hip, moments, as provided by the likes of Medicine's As You Do, a hopelessly funky slice of Californian soul, spliced with some electronica, that keeps your toes tapping, or The Bees' cult favourite, A Minha Menina, with its dirty but oh-so distinctive guitar riffs.

Being a compilation, even one that celebrates an anniversary, there are some dodgy moments, of course, as supplied by Akasha's awkward Sweet Child of Mine, featuring Neneh Cherry, or the hopelessly 80s fixated Sometimes, by Les Rhythmes Digitales, featuring Nik Kershaw.

But they are thankfully kept to a minimum, and there is always another gem waiting in the wings.

My particular favourite, however, is The American Analog Set's hopelessly chilled, The Postman, a really beguiling slice of acoustic folk that arrives towards the end of the album and virtually steals the show.

CD2 features 19 remixes of Wall of Sound classics, but only occasionally delivers a classic.

Too much gets lost amid the monotonous beats of the UK clubbing scene, with too little of the original music shining through.

That said, the makeover given to the Propellerheads' Ten Years, featuring Livingroom Johnston, keeps things on the funky vibe, as does Vinyl Dialect's Ouch!

But the X-Press 2 Self-Abuse Mix of DJ Pierre's Wet Dreams, for instance, or Roger Sanchez's Casa de Sanchez mix of The Wiseguys' Cowboy '78 epitomise all that's wrong with the UK mainstream club scene at the moment, in that they have no soul.

Thankfully, it's not a charge that can be levelled at CD1, which more than justifies why Wall of Sound remain such an important indie record label.

Roll on the next ten years!

 

 

 

 

Track listing:
1. Take California - Propellerheads
2. Eple - Royksopp
3. Start The Commotion - The Wiseguys
4. So Rotten - Blak Twang Feat. Jahmali
5. What's Going On? - Mekon Feat. Roxanne Shante
6. The Hard Margin - The Creators Featuring Mos Def And Talib Kweli
7. A Minha Menina - The Bees
8. Maracana Madness - E-Klektik
9. Trickshot - Ceasefire
10. Red Tape - Agent Provocateur [X Mix Radio Edit]
11. Gold Is Your Metal - Themroc
12. Sometimes - Les Rythmes Digitales Feat. Nik Kershaw
13. As You Do - Medicine
14. Happiness - Shawn Lee
15. It's Automatic - Zoot Woman
16. The Postman - The American Analog Set
17. Sweet Child Of Mine - Akasha Feat. Neneh Cherry

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