Okay. To begin I am taking off my rose-tinted specs because I want to be as open as possible here. I am not affiliated with Street Sounds in any way whatsoever and was not given a copy of the album for review purposes so this is wholly independant.
So, I recently listened to the whole of Street Sounds' hotly-anticipated CRUCIAL 4 cd.
Beginning with Mantronik's/Mantronix' own Who Is It this has been remixed exclusively for the album ("Crucial Electro 4 Version") with a 'modern-day' hip hop type beat which is thankfully only sporadically used although there is a bit of wobbly bass throughout. Extra razor-sharp edits are employed and being a fan of this technique (hell, I loved it on the first Mantronix album) I enjoyed the use. The main song hasn't really been messed with too much so no drastic changes here.
On the whole, the content of the first disc is great with some of my personal favourites included such as DMX Will Rock (essential), Knights Of The Turntables (brilliant faux-history lesson) and Marley Marl Scratch (a turntablist's delight). In fact the only let-down is the El Bruto's Bankster Edit of Divine Sounds What People Do For Money (the original is also included). The title is indeed correct here in which it is not remixed but rather edited (including some aforementioned razor-sharp edits) and seems a bit out of place in this collection.
Now, the actual Crucial Mix itself. Mixed by the man Kurtis Mantronik with what is suspiciously like a copy of Ableton or similar dj mixing software without a hint of vinyl being manipulated (i.e., scratching).
The trouble with digital dj-ing is that if you're not careful you can put together a mix with unnecessary embellishments and become over-reliant on technology thus making you become lazy. With the previous Crucial albums there was an onus on mixing - creatively - and what is happening here is that Kurtis is using looping, filters and other effects a lot more than is needed. However it is 2013 and as technology has moved on then perhaps then so has the need for this type of mixing.
There are some odd pieces in this mix it must be said, the first being a very strange edit in which Knights Of The Turntables mixes in out of Marley Marl Scratch where MC Shan is actually cut off mid-sentence which comes across as very amateur. There's a terrible part in Monster Beat where the tempo increases like an out of control runaway train - I didn't know how fast it was going to get but it sure as hell wasn't subtle. And then after yet more unnecessary looping in the mix it segues into the oddly-edited (by Chad Jackson) yet totally appropriately-titled Looking For The Perfect Beat which is only 4 BPMs slower than it's original 119 yet feels tortuously stretched - probably as a result of hearing the previously 'chipmonked' track.
|Crucial 3 (1987)|
Now that is some genius mixing courtesy of Mastermind on the GLI.
I don't want to come off as a Street Sounds hater here because that's not the point. But when you are kept waiting for much longer than is necessary for a proposed release (floods in Europe?) and then finally get to listen to what is quite frankly a poorly-executed mix by someone who has (had?) the intuition to know better. Considering there are probably hundreds of people who would've loved to have had a crack at doing this Crucial Mix I wonder what went wrong?
Of course you could never have EVERY track included on this album to please EVERYONE but from what is here I am happy with (re-edits notwithstanding).
The Definitive Electro & Hip Hop Collection' which although had a great selection also had a rather dodgy mix. However that mix was still better than this even though it was done by an ex-Kiss FM RnB dj.
One has to ask though was this album necessary? When put up against the three other volumes it cannot compete. Was it strictly for the 'fans', the ones who blindly follow SS regardless of it's quality who command a freakishly god-like devotion to the cultish Mr Khan?
Maybe next time some more stringent quality-control wouldn't go amiss to make it a return to how essential and crucial listening these albums actually were.
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