How do you like your 90’s LP: Shaken, stirred, or just straight up funky on the spy tip?
R.I.Y.L: James Bond, Chemical Brothers/Fatboy Slim, Jazzy Breaks
Today’s act doesn’t stem from Chicago, nor Lost Angeles, but my fellow contributors’ favorite area: England. Bath, England to be more exact. This time around though, I’m not upping one track I feel is reminiscent of their overall sound, or just posting a grainy YouTube video; it’s time to finally share a full-length LP (link at the bottom of wordy post) with you. The Chemical Brothers might have been responsible for bringing the big-beat sound to the masses, but the duo known as the Propellerheads, took what their fellow countrymen did and concocted a 90’s electronica record–with sheer suspense and heart-pumping adrenaline from the first beat until the last scratch. These lads might have created one of the more diverse records to come out of the decade that birthed electronic music for the masses.
Fulfill your record collection and appease your inner spy by clicking the jump….
These gents were on the now defunct Dreamworks Records. Back then, record labels pushed for their artists to appear on soundtracks, especially fought to have their songs prominently used in the movie, or maybe even better, in the trailer. That’s right, you’ve probably already heard this duo. “History Repeating”, who features the legendary Shirley Bassey was used in the trailer to There’s Something About Mary. This soulful vocalist belts out each note as throaty as can be all over a swingy jazz beat, under frog-like deep bass. Brass, a beat, some scratching; this song alone could have blown the Propellerheads up with the young and old. And if you didn’t know, Ms. Bassey is best known for singing three James Bond theme songs: Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker.
A grand 10 minute remake of the theme to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is what makes this album stand out from anything else released in this genre during the mid-90’s. The skeleton of the original is definitely still intact; within seconds, you put yourself in Bond’s shoes with the suspenseful use of strings that goes in one ear and out the other. But soon enough, you’re realizing this theme is being manipulated with echoing electronic effects, funky wah-wah guitars, dark gutter bass, and the sense that this track hasn’t even begun to warm up. At about the five-minute mark, Bond brings down the production to a low soar to give the brass and strings a chance to catch their breath. It all comes together after they’re rested with hard hitting beats and a climax that only Bond, an orchestra, and the Propellerheads could compose.
This record wasn’t only jazzy breaks, gutter bass, disco house, and everything else that made me yearn to spin this again with James Bond on production. The Heads brought the BPMs, while MCs like the Jungle Brothers flowed all over the M-I-C on the closer, “You Want It Back”. One of the Brothers asks for, “More music in his headphones” and then the simple drum pattern kicks in. Add a simple melody on the keys, sustain that line, and then the beat just intensifies, as does the cadence from these ahead of their time rhymesayers. Now a days, I appreciate an album closing on an uplifting, tranquil groove, but the Propellerheads had it right: Get the listener bobbing their head and tappin’ their feet until the very last beat.
Care to enjoy this as much as I have for over 10 years? Their debut LP below…