DJ Food & DK
Every generation boasts that music was better "in their day," that it meant more, had more depth - but of course this can't possibly be the case. It's not the music that changes, but the listeners. We go through certain stages in our life where music means more to us and changes us. Unfortunately if my theory is correct then there is a multitude of people out there of an impressionable age that are being profoundly changed by the Kaiser Chiefs - but that's fine, they'll grow out of it.
I can count a few periods in my life when this has happened. Most of these happened when I was a teenager and blissfully unaware of any larger musical implications that were occurring, I was just listening to the music and relating to it. But the most recent example of this occurred during 1994 - 1997 and centered round a few record labels and one club in particular - The Blue Note in Hoxton Square. Drum & Bass was a mere child then, as too was the genre formerly known as "Trip Hop" (thank christ). During Goldie's Metalheadz Sunday night sessions and the Ninja Tune Stealth parties I really felt part of something important, that the music that was being played was particular to this time, to this club and to these people. You felt like you were present at the birth of a genre. The excitement in that club at that time was truly memorable and though all artists and labels concerned are still making great music today that feeling for me has never been replicated or matched and nor should it.
Until that is, I heard Solid Steel's latest mix tape by the legendary DJ Food & DK. In 2001 Solid Steel's front-men DJ Food (Strictly Kev, PC) and DK (Darren Knot) kicked off this compilation series with the awesome Now, Listen and it's been going strong ever since with mixes from Amon Tobin, Mr. Scruff and The Herbaliser. Now, Listen recaptured the electrifying creativity of Coldcut's now legendary Journeys By DJ mix from 1995 and this follow up strives to do the same. I'm not sure how anyone can get close to the brilliance of Coldcut's mix, but with this compilation the feeling has been renewed and updated. The important thing about these and all great mix-tapes is their eclecticism and the inability to plot their course.
Now, Listen Again is a mash-up masterclass. Things kick off with the sample "Listen, that's the sound of ground being broken, it will sound familiar" and though this may not be groundbreaking music it's the familiar sound of the ground they broke a decade ago and it still sounds fantastic. Early on we get a brilliant fusion of Eric B & Rakim and The Human League's Being Boiled and move through Ram Jam's Black Betty, Primal Scream, Aphex Twin via a masterful megamix of DJ Shadow's back catalogue that blends effortlessly into the original Organ Donor sample of Giorgio Moroder's Tears. The obvious high point on this mix is the introduction of New Order's dub mix of Blue Monday, The Beach, out of The Irresistible Force and into the dirty 2 step beat of Big Dada's Part 2 featuring Fallacy.
Now, Listen Again doesn't have the dizzy peaks of it's predecessor but is a much more even mix and over-all is a more satisfying listen. The refreshing thing about this compilation is it's willingness to take the cheesy route. As we are guided through old-school hip hop, Drum & Bass and sun-soaked soul we see tones of well disguised rarities, but also glorious amounts of well trodden crowd pleasers. Enough water has flowed under the bridge for these mash-up veterans to simply enjoy their art and this is the sound of them doing just that. Since the demise of The Blue Note, Solid Steel's exit from BBC Radio and the suffocating fad of mash-up mania the mix tape has never sounded so good as it does here. It has re-ignited the spirit of the mid 90's with a wonderful blend of honest nostalgia and forward thinking optimism and was indeed "Food For My Soul."