Scratch Perverts - Watch the Ride
I had the good fortune to catch Scratch Perverts at my uni's student union back in September. Rather merry on warm cider and a strange cherry concoction, I danced like a fool to their set which - as much as I can remember - consisted mainly of hip-hop and mixes of R'n'B chart-stormers. Therefore, I was quite excited to hear they were releasing this, Watch the Ride, a brand-spankin' new dance album. One glance at the track list, and I only recognised about three of the tracks mixed into the brew. This only served to excite me even more, intriguing me as to what surprises lay in wait.
Well, not that many. It starts off promising, the short intro seeing one Dynamite MC introducing the Perverts themselves and ramping up a sense of excitement about what's to come. The soul of Pharoahe Monch's Push provides a nice contrast to the breakbeat hip-hop of the next few tracks but nothing can hold a candle to the inclusion of Mark Ronson's funky Northern soul take on Radiohead's Just, a cover version that proves to be the highlight of the whole thing. Cutting-edge dance maestros Sebastian and Spank Rock also get a look-in, alongside stalwarts like Chemical Brothers and innovators such as Roots Manuva. There's even a brave take on Queens of the Stone Age which transforms it from a monster of rock riffage into an brooding slow-burner. All very well and good, right? The downfall is that, despite some very strong tracks, there are moments where it just doesn't work for me and, in the case of laughable cuts like Vex'd's Bollocks (So Solid Crew were possibly more literate), it's nothing more than annoying. The middle section, when the CD is entering its most 'urban' patch, just goes from rap track to rap track - some of the deliveries are good but it's mainly a waiting game until we reach the more engaging, and slightly bonkers, drum 'n' bass finale. Scratch Pervert's own major contributions differ in quality; Drop offers big beats to pop pills to but Freaks sadly sounds like it's been produced by a sub-par British Timbaland.
It's not a waste of an opportunity at all, for I imagine this would sound great in a bar or club and would certainly get one revved up before a night out on the town. Maybe it's down to the simple fact that I'm not the biggest hip-hop fan in the world and the majority of the tracks here are quite raw examples of that genre. Put simply, this is a CD for dance/urban fans who find the likes of Basement Jaxx a bit too 'safe'. Therefore, Watch the Ride was always going to be a bit of a mixed bag for me. It's still an interesting diversion and a reminder that there are some lesser-known DJs out there who are enthusiastic about the music they mix and, more importantly, are good at their job. It's just that I much prefer the giddy thrills and technicolor eclecticism provided by the likes of 2manydj's over the more genre-set mindframe Scratch Perverts are working in. I mean, there's no mix of Dolly Parton's Nine to Five here, for one thing...