Album Reviews

Andy Smith – The Document II

UK release date: 15 September 2003


Five years on from the original Document, and Portishead‘s own DJ, Andy Smith presents another choice mix selection of breaks, beats, and butt-shakin’ grooves liberated from the recesses of his enviable collection of 12s and 45s. The original mix juxtaposed the familiar (Grandmaster Flash) to the unexpected (the Welsh sweaty walrus of love himself – Tom Jones), but the accent was on party-centred hip-hop, and the funk breaks that underwrite it.

Once we’re past Kate Bush‘s winsome and wistful Man With The Child In His Eyes, where a boom-bap drum break shifts into the ex-Juice Crew member Craig G‘s Welcome To The Game, then we’re off into a rollercoaster of spluttering horns and on-the-one guitar licks. But above all, we’ve got our ticket, and we’re gonna let the drummer get wicked.

Therefore we get a serving of Lowdown Popcorn from head funkateer James Brown, Ultramagnetic‘s charitable Give The Drummer Some, and the dirty-sax shuffle of DJ Bombjack‘s Big Beat No 3. Now don’t let that last title put you off. Like admitting to a deep affection of MC Tunes, confessing a liking for Big Beat is still likely to get you thrown out of the best parties. But The Document II recalls the better moments of that much-maligned chapter in dance music such as the Live At The Social mixes by The Chemical Brothers and Jon Carter.

Document II does have its eye on the rear-view mirror more than those extended DJ workouts, but some of the better recent tracks are the ones closer to home. Smith and decks-chum Scott Hendy (AKA Boca 45) occasionally moonlight as Dynamo Productions, and it’s the Booker T scratch-and-soul-clap of their own Showtime, slipping into the afro-beat, spacey fug of Cut Chemist‘s The Re-Return of the Original Art Form, that provides this mix’s defining moments. And the clanging free-form percussion delight that is Boca 45’s Gather Round is no mean filler either.

Elsewhere the mix is unhindered by the inspired inclusion of the southern comfort joy of Three Dog Night‘s loose-limbed I Can Hear You Calling and gitane-snaffling Serge Gainsbourg‘s Requiem Pour Un C… (oo-er!). Lets hope that this last number wasn’t played at Serge’s funeral.

Smith is no turntablist in the sense of a Mixmaster Mike, or DJ Shadow. There’s no recognisable narrative that unites the disparate elements of Shadow and Cut Chemist’s Brainfreeze projects, where the DJs created a tense, stuttering mix out of upbeat, confident Northern Soul tracks. It also lacks the kind of duck-to water DJ skills than you’ll find on any of DJ ScizzaHandz‘s R ‘n’ B cut-ups on New York’s legendary AV8 label. But, if it’s a party album you’re after, you’re unlikely to hear any complaints. Except from the neighbours.


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More on Andy Smith
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Andy Smith – The Document Vol III
Andy Smith – The Document II


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