Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Logical Progression (LTJ Bukem) / Logical Regression (25 Years of Goldie Oldies)

The best thing about Good Looking records was that because most started in an ambient fashion they made mixing easy for someone like me, who never learnt beat mixing when I was a DJ. I preferred to join the thematic/style dots, as befitted an eclectic DJ.

To say that was 'the best thing' isn't strictly true, of course. I only did so in order to reel out an old story from the days of mobile DJs which, I assume, still exist. In the mid-70s a friend once knocked at my door and asked if I wanted to go into the DJ-ing game with him. I was interested until he told me the cost of the turntables. So he went ahead anyway and on one night declared over the microphone that the best thing about the Elvis record he'd just played were the scratches at the end. Not that he was a proto-Christian Marclay-type sonic experimentalist or anything; he simply wanted to wind up the Teddy Boys in the hall. 

No, I'm not that old, but you'll have to take my word for the fact that in 1977 Teddy Boys still existed. There were frequent running battles between them and Punks down the King's Road. His comments sparked another battle between those two tribes on that night. He asked us if we'd stand in front of his speakers to protect them, which we did. Luckily, both the Punks and Teds were more intent on damaging each other.

22 years later, how have Good Looking records aged? That's what I wondered, staring at the 99p double CD, LTJ Buken presents Logical Progression, in the charity shop this morning. At that price, I could find out the answer. Also in the shop was Radiohead's OK Computer, for even less, 69p, yet despite being tempted I couldn't even part with that measly sum in order to satisfy my curiosity regarding what many consider to be a 'classic'. Whenever I've seen Radiohead performing on TV they've annoyed the hell out of me. Having passed up on OK Computer at that price, I shall never know if I can find anything worthwhile in it. Yes, I could go to YouTube, but cannot be arsed.

I did buy a few Good Looking singles at the time (1996) but preferred labels with more bite, like Metalheadz or No U-Turn. Bukem brought a kind of sophistication to the Drum'n'Bass scene, not that others didn't try to do the same, just that he made a mission out of it. All these tunes are polished to a high sheen. I'm on the verge of saying 'you can't polish a turd' but that would be a little harsh. My problem with a lot of these tunes now is the very thing that marked them out as Good Looking records in the first place; that gloss and, in places, 'soul' crooning all over the shop. I confess that the desire to have repeat phrases run through Jungle and D&B tunes gets on my nerves now. At the time I would have forgiven it if the drum and bass were hard enough. 

So I've run through both discs and my only, admittedly weak (sorry) opinion is that a lot of the tracks are OK, running to good when the rhythm gets going. It's kind of D&B Easy. To many, I know, that will translate as 'classical', especially those thinking themselves too smart for ruffneck tunes featuring gangsta/JA vocal samples (just my kind of thing!).

Talking of Metalheadz, 25 Years of Goldie (Unreleased And Re-Mastered) was a Record Store Day release (limited copies available at a later date) and right from the opening bass on Rufige Kru's I Walk The Dog you get that feeling, the one you had back in the day, the tingle of anticipation....then...here come the drumz! - and the incessant, ominous future noize splicing your brain - you know, the way Goldie and co. did. Rob Playford & Goldie's Shadow VIP is a corker too, the la-la-la-la vocal (?) enhancing what is already a demented percussion workout with trademark chainsaw bass flipping it into the realms of a psychotic treat which segues nicely into Rider's Aftermath wherein that vocal mutates into a mechanised refrain whilst Playford and Goldie proceed to beat you into a bloody pulp (and you love it). Although you're either helpless flat on the floor or jumping around the room by now (possibly even middle-aged Junglists can still do that) Stormtroopa delivers the coup de gr├óce, rewinding your mind (if not body, though you wish it were true) to times when you could and did go mental to Metalheadz records.

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