Electric Minds doubtlessly understands this. Among my favourite promoters in London, they have regularly hooked up with the equally dependable Late Night Audio to present Arthur Russell's modern day descendants—Toby Tobias, Mock and Toof and Chicken Lips—in sweaty, undersized basements, the way it should be. In short, they know their stuff. Thus, on the face of it, Go Bang: A Tribute to Arthur Russell should be a fitting tribute, especially given that Yam Who? has been given five tracks alongside contributions from Max Essa and Faze Action.
Considering the pedigree of the contributors, it should be unsurprising to find out that Go Bang is full of well-produced nu-disco and house. But the tracks here fail to dazzle. What feels like a larger betrayal, though, is that all the kinks and individuality—the things that make Arthur Russell's music so great—have been ironed out. As each track begins with a simple beat, you're left hankering for something else, a cello, a half-vocal, something you've never heard before.
There's sadly little of that here. What we have instead are covers that only serve to make you want to return to Arthur as quickly as you can for a far more rich and rewarding listen. Go back, even, to previous covers such as Walter Gibbons' version of "Go Bang!" That track is rejigged here by Yam Who? and Faze Action, and the difference in quality is palpable. The covers of "In the Light of the Miracle" and "Wax the Van" will have you dancing, but so will a lot of other records on the shelf, and Arthur Russell was about much more than that.
Only the first track really captures anything of the original spirit that makes Russell's music so enduring. My Tiger My Timing's take on of "Arm Around You" bubbles with a joy and optimism that ups the cuteness and adds a delightful drum pattern, a slight build-up and sweet licks. For the most part, though, we're stuck in the unwelcome realm of "tasteful," an eternal bugbear of nu-disco, and it couldn't be more misplaced. What you're left with is one of those albums that would sound perfect in a bar which markets itself on a kind of elegant sophistication—and far removed from the sweaty basements of Electric Minds' super-fun parties.
Thu / 10 Dec 2009
01. My Tiger My Timing - Arm Around You
02. Steven Hall & Joyce Kirby - Lucky Cloud (Pocketknife Remix)
03. Yam Who? & Mary Moore - Make 1 2
04. Max Essa - Tiger Stripes
05. Pocketknife feat Joe Worricker - Get Around To It
06. Faze Action feat Yam Who? & Mary Moore - In the Light of a Miracle
07. Yam Who? - Wax The Van
08. Yam Who? feat Faze Action, Peter Gordon & Mary Moore - Go Bang
09. Yam Who? feat Natasha Watts - Kiss Me Again
10. Yam Who? - Pop Your Funk
11. Ilija Rudman - Wax The Van
12. Pocketknife feat. Joe Worricker - Get Around To It (Mark E Remix)