- Soul Jazz have been famous over the years for dredging up classic treasures from the archives of reggae, ska, funk, soul and more recent epochs of dance such as post punk and acid house. Always bang on the money, historically relevant, as well as beautifully annotated and/or packaged, you can almost pull one from a hat and know its going to be good. But as one astute critic once noted, what will they do when all the buried treasure is gone? Will they re-release compilations of compilations? Taking it one step further, the same critic then opined that perhaps Soul Jazz’s new Microsolutions imprint and the new wave of digital/electronic releases were a way of burying treasure for future generations of compilations to ensure a ready supply. Cynical, yes, but now that future has arrived with something of a sour note.
Soul Jazz presents a three CD set compiling the best of their electronic releases from 2006-2007 and it must be said that it breaks with tradition, being overall one of the poorer compilations they have released. The two main CDs feature 25 tracks taken from the Microsolutions and Soul Jazz labels as well as the first Box of Dub set and thus cover a far wider range of genres than usual. With so much uneven terrain, the ride is a little bumpy at times, even if you aren’t one to fixate on a particular sound.
The abruptness of the stylistic changes is most notable on the second disc, the first being by far the better. Amongst the genuine scorchers, some tracks like Tetine’s ‘Slam Dunk’ and, sadly, ESG's ‘Insane' (Tambourine mix) just don’t seem to have earned their place here. Some of the deeper techno tracks, although at times not intrinsically bad, are also a little more generic sounding when heard out of a stricter genre context, with Subway and Matias Aguayo being notable exceptions. The dubstep tracks stand up and slot in best overall, with gems such as Ladybug’s ‘Dem a Bomb We’ protesting the London bombings, Kode9’s ‘Magnetic City’ and two from Digital Mystikz lifting the first disc particularly.
The limited edition third disc, a mix CD of a selection of the same tracks plus a few different versions, wasn’t included with the review set, but perhaps might be there to add extra value for money. Since the wax on some of the original 12”s is still warm and fresh, I might also be cynical for thinking that this is something of a cash cow. Surely better to wait another year or two at least to add a few more real gems to the hoard and do away with the fool’s gold rather than kill the golden goose? There is enough here to prove that Soul Jazz have a good ear and a finger on the modern pulse, but not even they can get it right all the time.
Disc 1 - Unmixed
01 Digital Mystikz - Misty Winter
02 Capracara - Opal Rush
03 Ladybug Feat. Warrior Queen - Dem A Bomb We
04 Kode9 - Magnetic City
05 Subway - Satellites
06 Digital Mystikz - Conference
07 Soul 223 - Q
08 Private Lives - Private Life
09 Skream - Pass The Red Strip
10 Tetine - A Historia Da Garca
11 Matias Aguayo - Uno
12 Secondo - We Got It Like That
13 Subway - 44110
14 Capracara - Opal Rush (Kit Clayton Body Mix)
Disc 2 - Unmixed
01 Rekid - Retroactive
02 ESG - Insane (Tambourine Mix)
03 Matias Aguayo - Lineas
04 DJ Rupture/Sister Nancy/Kid 606 - Little More Oil (Reggaeton Mix)
05 Subway - Delta
06 Ladybug Feat. Deize Tigrona - Miniatura De Lulu
07 Capracara - Flashback 86
08 Tetine - Slum Dunk
09 Soul 223 - In Search Of Slowly
10 Sutekh - Kill The Monkey
11 JBP - Aphrotalk