Basement Jaxx
The Singles


4.5
superb

Review

by HolidayKirk USER (151 Reviews)
March 18th, 2015 | 9 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 88)

As the capstone to a legendary run that found London duo Basement Jaxx stripping house and latin music for parts and adding to their shanty town until it became a sprawling metropolis, The Singles is perfect. As a substitute for owning their first three albums, The Singles doesn’t work. That’s not the compilations fault, by its very nature as a singles comp it was going to miss the deep cuts that make their albums essential. Still, The Singles serves two valuable purposes, its first disc is an excellent introduction for the newcomer while the second disc of b-sides and remixes works for those who own the albums but don’t feel like sorting through what's left.

If the first disc of The Singles does have a weakness its that placing songs of this caliber back to back like this is certain to blow a valve in the brain of the uninitiated. “Red Alert”, “Romeo”, and “Good Luck” as the first three songs is a failure of sequencing no matter which way you slice it but I sure as hell can’t argue with the quality of that trio, arguably the best three songs in the entire Basement Jaxx catalog. Even the requisite new song “Oh My Gosh” totally pulls its weight coming after that crushing opening. From there, it’s pure bedlam. The explosive Mardi Gras of “Bingo Bango”, careening through the desert in “Rendez-Vu”, the Ecstasy turning evil on “Where’s Your Head At"”, Slarta John rattling the bolts off of his zepplin on “Jump ‘n’ Shout”, half of Chicago coming out of the closet at the same time on “Do Your Thing”, and “Fly Life” is the song you throw on once you’ve gotten your cocaine habit to a good place. It’s insane. Every track here is the among the best in its genre and a few rank among the best of all time and though taking them all on at once is overwhelming (seriously, just get the albums) it's still an unimpeachable run of music.

The second disc of The Singles, thought, is what elevates the record into something essential. Collecting the best Jaxx b-sides and remixes, disc two hints at just how elastic these songs are. No matter how perfect they sound in their original incarnations, there’s new angles in these remixes that may not eclipse the originals but feel plenty refreshing to those of us who have played them to death. Mashing up “Romeo” with The Clash’s post-disco “The Magnificent Seven”, 2 Many DJ’s hide the seams of the pairing separately and even extend “Romeo”’s breakdown for maximum genius. “Jus 1 Kiss” is blended with The Isley Brother’s “That Lady” to turn the original’s private jet into a raucous party bus. Unfortunately the live version of “Good Luck” is unlistenable due to sheer envy at those who got to actually be there. If you can get past that somehow, it’s a cracking showcase of Lisa Keluke’s fearsome vocal presence and just how perfectly the Jaxx ported their songs to stage. But the greatest revelation is saved for the very end. The candy-dynamite sound of “Romeo” is given a total 180 flip for the bossa nova “Romeo (Acoustic Version)”, the results are nothing less than sublime. The refrain “Let it all go” takes on a new context over gentle shakers and muted trumpet, instead of the original’s plea for release Kele Le Roc sounds like it’s all gone and she’s just relaxing on a golden beach.

There’s an inherent sadness to The Singles. Basement Jaxx would never be this good or, with “Oh My Gosh” as their last top 10 single to date, this big again. The duo composed of Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton had lots more great music to offer us but there’s just no way to top an opening run like this. That Basement Jaxx haven’t benefited from a tidal wave of critical reevaluation or a late career breakthrough the way Daft Punk has makes it even more unfortunate that their peaks are probably all behind them. Many, like myself, will hold a torch for this group’s comeback forever. But even if that never happens, they still gave us some of the greatest pop songs of all time. Hard to ask for more than that.



Recent reviews by this author
Rachel Stevens Come and Get ItThe Prodigy Music for the Jilted Generation
M People Elegant SlummingLadytron Witching Hour
Depeche Mode ViolatorRichard Hawley Coles Corner
user ratings (24)
Chart.
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
HolidayKirk
March 18th 2015


1722 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Listen to Basement Jaxx. Listen to Basement Jaxx. Listen to Basement Jaxx."



- Inscription on Holiday Kirk's Headstone



Twitter: @HolidayKirk



New review every Wednesday.



Fun Fact! This was supposed to be the week I reviewed Doves' Some Cities but, just like The Last Broadcast, I found it to be a bland sandwich.





SharkTooth
March 18th 2015


13963 Comments


never heard this band before, should I start with this or one of their first 3?

HolidayKirk
March 19th 2015


1722 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Go chronological. Remedy should put you on the right path.

Eloriaz
March 19th 2015


776 Comments


Yet another fine review for the Jaxx :-)

That Basement Jaxx haven’t benefited from a tidal wave of critical reevaluation or late career breakthrough the way Daft Punk has makes it even more unfortunate that their peaks are probably all behind them.


Yes, I definitely agree with that. That's just me, but I've always felt that Basement Jaxx were to the late 90's/early 00's what Pet Shop Boys had been to the mid-late 80's/early 90's. Pop gold done with synths through & through. The kind of pop that betters life. But like you said, the Jaxx haven't (yet?) quite received all of the acclaim they deserve. They should be one hell of a cult band at this point.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 19th 2015


32190 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's probably because they don't have the mythology of Daft Punk, nor the pretentious nous to stage such a dreadfully over-hyped campaign for any new material, like DP did with RAM.



Jaxx were ahead of their time. If they were to come out now, the EDM crowd would eat them up. Fun, poppy house music? Sold

p4p
July 16th 2016


1959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Without dance there is no love

Zeneren
January 1st 2017


1061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

listening to this recently really evoking early 00s nostalgia growing up as a kid... and the fact they're responsible for such a multitude of bangers.



Heard Flylife played in a club the other week, boy is that a tune that will reliably go off at any moment

p4p
January 2nd 2017


1959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

72% have stopped partaking in the art of dancing. in 15 years, 98% of us will cease to dance.

Zeneren
January 2nd 2017


1061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

big if true



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy