You may know Mr Scruff’s debut album by the endeared nickname Mrs Cruff – then again, you may not know it at all. Originally released on Pleasure Records it is a collection of his earliest EPs and has been widely unavailable for some time.
And just as his name raises issues of identity confusion, this totally remastered re-issue is all about Mr Scruff finding his feet and developing his own style. Apparently his first pseudo was Funky Scruff, and thank goodness he progressed from there.
This album lays bare the early stages of the Scruff style we all know and love, and it’s interesting to see it in its barest form. With flashes of sample and mix magic, the album as a whole is worth getting hold of to get an insight into where the legendary music anorak lays his roots.
If there’s one track out of them all that rings a bell, it’s the fabulously titled Chicken In A Box – if there’s one thing Mr Scruff never needs to improve on, it’s his naming of tracks. This Latin backed diamond is classic Scruff style. Opening with a flightly flute which gives way to Samba beats, the lengthy mix culminates in a layered rhythmic delight guaranteed to titillate even the straightest of businessmen.
It’s slightly removed from following track Night Time and its even mellower reprise After Time. Jazzing slowly enough to warrant a faded sleaze tag, they nevertheless are of a distinctive style.
Limbic Funk makes its mark as it gives way to some heavier breaks, while Bass Baby is infused with hip hop. But taken from four different EPs, no track, no matter how different from the next, is without its sense of fun.
In fact it is this rare light-hearted approach towards music that makes mediocre tracks Wail and Sea Mammel worth the material they’re pressed onto.
And what Mr Scruff review could end without slipping in mentions of Tubby Mechanical Friend and Bobby’s Jazz Pony? They surely sell themselves, and you should feel sorry for anyone who disagrees.