Various - Bar Culture Essentials

Drawing on several genres and decades of music, Bar Culture Essentials is a collection designed for the more sophisticated party animal, presented over two semi-mixed CDs. Well-worn classics sit alongside lesser-known cuts, and the compilers have seen fit to throw the occasional crazy curveball in the mix too.

Those wanting to stand and sway to the music have a choice of recent good time grooves. In a disco vain, there’s Room 5's huge hit Make Luv and Kujay Dada’s Young Hearts. These are mixed in a run with the infectious latin vibe of Lee Cabrera’s Shake It (although, beware, this appears to be the vocal-less version) and Paul Jackson’s speaker-quaking The Push. Elsewhere, there’s wheezy hip-hop in the shape of It Takes 2 and Tube & Berger’s bleep-tastic Straight Ahead.

For those needing to sit down, a range of chilled sounds are featured: Daft Punk’s Something About Us, servicable down tempo mixes of Groove Armada’s My Friend and Spiller’s Groovejet, and funkier stylings courtesy of Roy Ayers and Kraak en Smaak. Any good compilation should include some undiscovered gems, so here we have Remote’s Postcard, present in an impossibly warm and gorgeous Chris Coco remix, and Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band’s excellent Think Twice. Continuing with the relaxed theme, there’s a big helping of smooth and classic soul from the likes of Bobby Womack, Luther Vandross and Loose Ends.

Soul II Soul’s Back To Life, Mantronix’s Got To Have Your Love, and Blondie’s Rapture are (thankfully) painless reminders of the 80s. Richard X’s brilliant Finest Dreams, itself influenced by 80s electro, marks one of two appearances by Kelis (the other being the by now overly-familiar Milkshake).

As if to prove the compilers have a sense of humour, a couple of bizarre cover versions are included. Sade’s Smooth Operator is wonderfully re-imagined as kooky lounge by Senor Coconut and his Orchestra, while Tiga lends his uniquely flat vocals to Hot in Here, which is all the stranger for otherwise being fairly close to Nelly's original. Those requiring further amusement will find Petula Clark’s kitsch Downtown situated at the end of CD1.

Bar Culture Essentials mixes cosy familiarity with occasionally offbeat sounds, and can be recommended for its variety, thoughtful track-listing and consistence in quality. Best served with a dose of your favourite poison, this compilation should satisfy both your pre and post club needs.

Overall

7

out of 10

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