Album Reviews

Basement Jaxx – Rooty

(XL) UK release date: 25 June 2001


Very confident prediction #1: every club from Ibiza to Ilford is going to be groovin’ to the sound of Basement Jaxx this summer. Very confident prediction #2: you will not visit Ibiza without hearing Just 1 Kiss – and, if you are lucky, lots more tracks from this fabulous album.

Justly so, when such poptastic toons as the single Romeo, featuring Kele Le Roc, Just 1 Kiss, Broken Dreams and the Gary Numan-sample driven Where’s Your Head At? are included here. Every track as essential as their last album, Remedy, this album will define summer 2001 and features the kind of tunes you remember in ten years’ time as “that song that was on the radio when I met so-and-so for the first time” or “I remember dancing to that when I was in…”. Give me Just 1 Kiss any day – this is pop at its absolute, South London foot-tappin’ best. And some reassurance: you don’t have to love the album sleeve to love the music.

Basement Jaxx, aka Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, named Rooty after the club nights they’ve started up in an Irish pub in Brixton. It wasn’t O’Neill’s, in case you were wondering. Hats off to them; not many producers, DJs or musicians can go to the pub and start a whole new subculture and watch it grow into pop. Their now legendary live shows, typified by last year’s stunning extravaganza at Glastonbury, make Basement Jaxx a must-see live as well; just as well they are touring European festivals and barns this summer then, including the Brixton Academy.

With Broken Dreams they produce samples every bit as spectacular as labelmates The Avalanches; imagine Cuban brass, with a Four Tops style tambourine-led rhythm and a soul-filled vocalist and you are half way to realising the scale of the achievement on offer here. While their music is altogether less aggressive than other labelmates The Prodigy (haven’t XL got a stable to die for just now, also including Badly Drawn Boy and Etienne De Crecy, to name but two!), it is probably more readily accessible to radio and DJs. Oh hell, what am I saying; it is more commercial. But GOOD commercial!

They are clearly happy with their success too, which is always great to see. As well as R&B diva Kele Le Roc, they have brought in Chicago DJ Derrick Carter and, for Do Your Thing, Elliot May. And it is fun! Such a relief is this album, after ploughing through endless miserablist recordings, that I simply want to go clubbing after listening to it (beware, London…). Just as I’m about to, Elliot May’s contribution turns up and stops me. Do Your Thing is The Avalanches meets The Jackson Five – incendiary. A jazzy – or should that be Jaxxy – funk romp, featuring synths making noises they were surely never made to make, make at least four blockbuster singles. With Romeo, terrific though it is, you ain’t heard nothing yet.

Buy it. Pre-order it. Book your tickets to see them live. Buy the singles. Get a return flight to Ibiza. We are told: “It’s going to be a beautiful summer. Let’s get Rooty.” Hell, yes.


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