/ 28 November 2006

Put on those dancin’ shoes

This week’s two recommended CDs are a local and an international offering in the dance genre.

German producer, remixer and DJ Paul van Dyk’s double CD The Politics of Dancing (EMI) is an unusual creation. At first glance it seems to be just another mix album — but Van Dyk has not just craftily put together smooth, trance-housey tracks. He has also painstakingly reworked each track. So, for example, the recent dance hit Rapture by iio gets a thumping new bassline.

The result is a very listenable and danceable session, with the first CD somewhat more relaxed and the second one more energetic (it’s what Van Dyk would play when the party gets going, according to the sleeve notes, and the first is what he would put on to start the evening off).

On a naughty and very enjoyable note, Gauteng DJ Stuart Hillary has mixed a new album titled Phunky as Phuck (Gallo).

It captures perfectly the lively and very catchy mood of his sets at Jo’burg gay club Therapy, where he is a resident. Not only is the mixing top-class, but the track choice is excellent.

There’s a great version of The Ones’ hit Flawless and Macy Gray’s Sexual Revolution undergoes a dance transformation. With tracks like Richard F’s subversive Cookie Dough Dynamo the CD’s got a downright dirty, sensual and sexual feel to it, while the beat stays funky and relentless — put it on and watch the party gyrate out of control.

The Chieftains The World Wide Over (BMG)

Forty years and some 50 albums later, this traditional Irish band has come to symbolise the popular and commercially successful face of Irish music. But in spite of criticisms that the Chieftains have somehow diluted the pure and distilled music of Ireland by their success, and certainly their best music was played in the Seventies and Eighties, it is possible to listen to an early Chieftains album and think that you are listening to an extended Irish anthem, such is the power of their orchestrations, lyricism and grace. If only they would resist the temptation to release compilation after compilation, most of which are blended together with saccharine nostalgia and a few famous rock stars. This is easy listening. But so is standing downwind of a lowing cow and hearing a moo. Invest in the albums Boil the Breakfast Early and Bonaparte’s Retreat, both on the Claddagh Records label. — Maggie Davey

De la Soul Art Official Intelligence 2: Bionix (Tommy Boy)

When De la Soul made their name with 1989’s masterpiece, Three Feet High and Rising, their bright, new, uplifting Daisy Age hip-hop ushered in the positivity that typified early 1990s pop culture. Life was good, until De la Soul’s naive melodies were run out of town by bullies in the form of rap’s gun-toting gangstas. Now in their 30s, De la Soul plan revenge by stealth. The second instalment of the AOI triptych (after last year’s Mosaic Thump) is funkier and harder than old hits like The Magic Number, but still a step apart from most hip-hop. With tinkling bells, pianos and wonderfully defiant lyrics, some of these tunes could stand up on Motown or Broadway. — Dave Simpson