- If there were one compilation that I’ve been eagerly anticipating this year, it would have to be the final instalment of one of Global Underground’s favourite series. After a two-year wait, we finally see the release of ‘Lights Out 3’ mixed by the talented Steve Lawler. This last part of a trilogy compilation that began in 2002, takes the listener onto the final journey of a DJ and producer who has unashamedly embarked on a change that has seen him move away from a sound that defined him and has ultimately reinvented himself. It is a reinvention that has taken some time and while many may not like it, there are those, such as myself, who welcome it.
In 2002, Lights Out 1 exploded with a much-needed growl during a time when compilations were quite ordinary to say the least. While still primarily tribal in feel, you could sense that Lawler’s time with that sound was drawing to a close. This was made more than obvious in 2003 when Lights Out 2 was released. For me, the second chapter to this story will always be the definitive sound of musical perversion. It still had hints of a darker quality but the overall feel to that installment was raunchy at the very least, down right dirty at the most. Today, in 2005, with the release of Lights Out 3, comes the last chronicle in Lawler’s musical transformation.
The first part of this compilation begins in typical Lawler style with Lights Out Intro 1 and then kicks off on a very subdued level with Ben Wigan’s “Wait” and then moves along a nice groove with Nick K’s “Attack Mars!”. These two tracks set a laid back tone that’s predominant throughout the majority of this part of the compilation but with slightly quirky nuances. This is more than apparent in the Trentemoller mix of “Friday”, which is up next, by Fred Everything & 20 For 7 featuring the vocals of Vanessa Baker. The mix takes on a deeper feel with J&S Project’s “Hit” which continues with Swain & Snell’s hypnotic “Deny” and the electro tinged “Moltobeat” from Neverdogs.
Taking things up a notch is the bouncy “Out of Bass” by Livio & Roby which is quite an infectious little tune. Following on is Danielle Tignino Presents Rice & Peas’ “Drop Big Bombs”. If there is a disappointment in mix so far I’d have to say it’s this track. While maintaining a nice hip shaking feel, it’s the vocals that really don’t do it for me. For me, it’s a quality melody that’s let down by those ridiculous vocals. Taking on a nice house feel is the Fedo Orange mix of “Happy Days Don’t Stop” from F.E.D.O. Women beat their men? Yeah, more than likely.
A sense of Lawler’s more well known sound is up next with his own Lights Out Edit of Wawa’s “Flamenco” but it’s just a teaser and things take off from that point with the truly melodic Terrace Mix of “Bitter Sweet” again by Livio & Roby. A truly uplifting yet dirty number and what I like to expect from Lawler these days. The piano riff is just glorious and I found myself waving my hands in the air while forgetting I was sitting in my loungeroom. Following on perfectly are the techier strains of Alex McCulloch’s ridiculously great “Moogment” and then the first part of Lights Out 3 is completed with Lawler’s own remix of one of this year’s biggest tracks, The Conjure’s “The Skeleton Key”. While I do prefer the Richard Tinsdale remix of this track, I do appreciate the emphasis Lawler has put on the more acidic aspects of this tune. It’s this clever ploy that sets up what the listener will expect to hear in the opening of the second part of this compilation.
Of the two CDs, the second is definitely the more dancefloor friendly. Once again, opening a Lights Out Intro, the mix begins with the smooth sounds of Lawler’s Lights Out Edit of Matthias Heilbronn’s “Like This” and then glides into the grooves of the Original Mix of Anja Schneider’s “Creaky Thoughts”. A definite favourite of mine especially with those acidic overtones. Things pick up a beat when the bass heavy “Daily Disco” by Lützenkirchen kicks in and the momentum is continued with “Let’s Go” by Mono and Alex Dolby’s fantastic “Obsessive Sound” which is just dancefloor mayhem to my ears.
An electroish flavour is revisited with “ABC”, a tune from Drax & Gooding Feat Taariq and swings into a housier feel with the King Unique Dub Mix of Suicide Sports Club’s second release “I Don’t Know”. This just lays the groundwork for the truly immense and rather addictive melodies of Criss Source’s “Hugs N’ Kisses”. As crazy as it sounds, it’s a track that is both dark and uplifting at the same time but more than anything, it makes you want to get up and shake your butt. It’s so bloody good it should be made illegal!
And if that’s not enough, the pace picks up yet again with the Ricky Ryan Edit of “Metro Kiev” by Blendbrank. Only a snippet is used so as to bring in another Ryan edit but this time of the classic “Pushin’ Too Hard” by Saints and Sinners”. It’s an interesting reinterpretation of this well known tune but I can’t help thinking it lacks the punch that the original has and the chinstroker in me is saying that some tunes don’t need to be reinvented. Nevertheless it’s still very enjoyable.
Revisiting the acid sound, Lawler brings in the Swain & Paris stormer “What is This?” which utilises its robotic vocals quite effectively. As the end nears, I was expecting to hear the tone of the mix being brought down to a close. But instead the peaktime sounds move along with the Seamus Haji Edit of “Feel The Vibe” from Sweden’s next big thing Axwell and end on a high with the Grayson Shipley Re-Edit of Stu Hirst’s thumping “Rhythmique” which manages to leave a rather surreptitious smile on my face.
From an overall perspective, I’m enjoying Lights Out 3 very much. I had no expectations of what this release would be like but ultimately it is a compilation I found satisfying both musically and technically. It has a certain style that captivates me and its simplicity gives it a very inoffensive nature. While I feel this was a very easy mix for Lawler to put together, I do however feel it was done with much person satisfaction. This is not a mix about proving a DJ’s stature, it’s a collection of tunes representing a marked change in someone who has been around for quite a while and steeped in a particular style.
There are tracks in this mix that I’ve never heard such as ‘Obsessive Sound’ by Alex Dolby and there are those that are obvious such as Lawler’s own remix of The Conjure’s ‘The Skeleton Key’. While some may moan and groan at some of the more obvious choices and therefore feel disappointed that this is not a cutting edge compilation, there will be those that accept this compilation for what it is. Sometimes it’s best to leave expectations to one side and just simply enjoy the tunes because Lights Out 3 is Steve Lawler saying goodbye to the old and enveloping the new. It is Steve Lawler shedding his skin.
1. Lights Out Intro 1
2. Ben Wigan - Wait
3. Nick K – Attack Mars!
4. Fred Everything & 20 For 7 Feat Vanessa Baker – Friday (Trentemoller Mix)
5. J&S Project - Hit
6. Swain & Snell – Deny
7. Neverdogs – Moltobeat
8. Livio & Roby – Out Of Bass
9. Danielle Tignino Presents Rice & Peas – Drop Big Bombs
10. F.E.D.O – Happy Days Dont Stop (Fedo Orange Mix)
11. Wawa – Flamenco (Lawler's Lights Out Edit)
12. Livio & Roby - Bitter Sweet (Terrace Mix)
13. Alex McCulloch – Moogment
14. The Skeleton Key – The Conjure (Steve Lawler Mix)
1. Lights Out Intro 2
2. Matthias Heilbronn – Like This (Lawler's Lights Out Edit)
3. Anja Schneider – Creaky Thoughts (Original Mix)
4. Lützenkirchen – Daily Disco (Original Mix)
5. Mono – Lets Go
6. Alex Dolby – Obsessive Sound
7. Drax & Gooding Feat Taariq – ABC
8. Suicide Sports Club – I Dont Know (King Unique Dub Mix)
9. Criss Source – Hugs N’ Kisses
10. Blendbrank – Metro Kiev (Ricky Ryan Edit)
11. Saints and Sinners – Pushin Too Hard (Ricky Ryan Edit)
12. Swain & Paris – What is This?
13. Axwell – Feel the Vibe (Till the Morning Comes) (Seamus Haji Exclusive Lights Out Edit)
14. Stu Hirst – Rhythmique (Grayson Shipley Re-Edit)