Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Various Artists - 'The Bees - Sound Selection'


The concept of reviewing a compilation is a strange one – it’s either going to be self-congratulatory (because after all, I’ve got some knowledge of Can, Staple Singers and De La Soul), completely uninformed (well, have you heard of Redbone?) or some sort all-seeing explanatory eye for why its makers sound the way they sound (see Muddy Waters and Dungen for that).

So now that the technicalities are over and done with, it should also be mentioned that ‘The Sound Selection’ contains a stunning dub-infused remix of The Bees’ own ‘Left Foot Step Down’ from latest album ‘Octopus’. It’s simply wonderful, and would convince an alien that the Isle of Wight is in fact scattered with palm trees and pina coladas. And this isn’t to mention the new Bees track, ‘Papa Echo’ – whilst some may criticise them for not merely nodding to the sixties but moreover, consistently simulating their chosen decade, the whole thing makes a lot more sense when surrounded by the music that the band adore.

So what of the rest of the songs? There's a smidgeon of gospel, a large serving of soul, a quota of rap and a little bit of Brazilian bossa nova. The choices are inspired, such as ‘Roda’ by Elis – the rhythms on that track are shoe-shuffling enough to take your troubles away. Dungen’s ‘Plagor Jamna’ is a delight too, a slice of tropical euphoria. The Bees’ Aaron monikers himself Fatty FLX and provides a pretty superfluous remix to Ghosts, but it’s nice enough and still fits pleasantly into the CD as a whole; the LP gives The Bees’ back-catalogue grounding and context. It’s a nostalgic, chronological, and altogether trouble-free listen.

It’s a weird and wonderful selection of tunes which deserves its own DJ sets on a remote island inhabited only by people who can pass a stress test. And they get a bonus point for their inclusion of Donovan’s ‘There Is A Mountain’ – it’s the cherry on top of, indeed, a wonderful sound selection.

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