With that kind of ambition, it’s not always gonna be pretty. An uncredited member of the trio said in the ‘FabricLive.33’ press release that, “if something’s sloppy, you kind of own that a little bit, you know?” But despite their best efforts to critic-proof it, a ‘FabricLive’ entry is, after all, a permanent record, not one night in a cramped club, five bucks at the door with a complementary MGD tallboy. Spank Rock manages well enough for the mix’s first third, agreeably if not effortlessly navigating their way through old-school hip-hop (Kurtis Blow), nu-skool discofilth (Mr Oizo vs. Justice), ‘80s electrocrap (Yello) and Switch, coming on strong with ‘A Bit Patchy’, his mighty retooling of the1973 classic ‘Apache’ by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band.
After that, though, ‘FabricLive.33’ gets a lot worse before it gets any better. The Contours’ smoove 1965 R&B number ‘Do You Love Me’ gets a bottle of Bmore Club bonus beats to its dome, and then – brace for it – Spank Rock opens up a can of Mylo’s ‘Drop The Pressure’. Ironically, a guy in last month’s FabricFirst newsletter said his worst night at Fabric was seeing Mylo – “Nothing personal, but hearing ‘Drop The Pressure’ in 2007 just wasn’t me!” – and here it is on the latest “FabricLive”, made only a tad more listenable with an acapella rap by Spank Rock lyricist Naeem Juwan (credited on the rear cover as “Disco Cool MC Spankrock” – geez, how much blow has this dude done since hitting it big a year ago?). ‘Drop The Pressure’ gets dropped into Yes’ ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’, owner of what is one of the worst guitar solos in history. One painfully awkward transition into Para One’s ‘Dundun-Dun’ later, and you might end up breaking the CD in half and getting tiny bits of plastic in your eye.
But wait! The clouds suddenly part at this crucial juncture in the mix, with XXXchange’s hugely funky take on Best Fwends’ ‘Myself’. It’s painfully short as a single track, but extends its life by getting cleverly implemented into the following four. Uffie’s ‘Hot Chick (Feadz Edit)’ is, well, an Uffie track, but if you don’t like her vocal stylings at least there’s her usual jaw-dropping production by Feadz to hold you through. Simian Mobile Disco’s ‘Hustler’ gets righteously hustled by ‘Hustlin’’, Rick Ross’ rap ode to Miami’s coke trade. Naeem Juwan then returns to rap over The Romantics’ ‘Talking In Your Sleep’, which contrary to ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ plays as a welcome ‘80s throwback.
Rick Ross’ ‘Hustlin’’ acapella shows up for seconds, playing over an uncredited, beautiful, strings-heavy beat (perhaps an original?). Following this is the Maurice Fulton remix of Hot Chip’s ‘Over and Over’, one of the mix’s quirkiest additions with its eerie chorus and the spelling out of “kissing sexing Casio poke you me I” letter-by-letter, again and again. Somebody make this song the murder ballad in a serial killer movie, already! Spank Rock closes out the mix with 1976’s ‘Love To The World’ by L.T.D., which was remade by Plantlife in 2005 as ‘Luv 4 The World (Why They Gotta Hate?)’, which in turn was used as the opener to label mate Diplo’s ‘FabricLive.24’, reminding long-time listeners what a superior mix that was.
That’s not to say ‘FabricLive.33’ is without its merits, but Spank Rock are a little too eager to impress on their debut mix CD. Hard to tell what anyone would’ve expected from these guys, but something less far-reaching – say, 70 minutes of bassbin-bashing Bmore Club – would’ve been preferable to yet another ultra-eclectic ‘FabricLive’ mix. Fabric made a premature decision to invite these guys onboard; they’re certainly daring in their selection and mixing, but their talent for it hasn’t quite caught up yet. Maybe it would’ve been better in a few months’ time, but as it stands Spank Rock’s ‘FabricLive.33’ is an easily forgotten letdown.