Album Reviews

Various – Estuary English: Music From Memphis Industries Volume One

UK release date: 3 March 2003

Estuary English: Music From Memphis Industries Volume One Let’s face it, the majority of “dance compilation” albums are just insipid collections of junk, with two decent songs thrown in an attempt to give them some sort of redeeming factor. But this is different. This is, well, good. Although Estuary English are named as a dance label, this is not cheesy nightclub type junk. This is too funky, relaxing, and most importantly too damn smart to be grouped in with other compilations. The first track starts off rather like Beck and when the gospel-style vocals kick in, it is hard not to fall in love with it and didn’t take long for my hips to start (gently) swaying.

The excited Spanish style of Saturday by J Xaverre finely captures the traditional style of music from this country and fuses it with more contemporary beats. The Hollywood Stud by The Squire Of Somerton is a bit of a shock. Following straight on from a chill-out number, this song is the sound of The White Stripes and Granddaddy. A twisting, erratic melody entwines around a bizarre mix of instruments ranging from a traditional Country style acoustic guitar to a church organ.

When you have a CD of 17 songs, it is inevitable that they are not all going to be of the same phenomenal quality. There are a few tracks that seem a little out of place but at the same time they do not come across as album fillers. It is just hard to have 17 tracks adhering to the same high standard.

A version of the Carly Simon classic You’re So Vain at first appears to destroy the beat and flow of the original, but if you give it a chance you will realise it is actually damn good. Although die-hard Simon fans might be repelled by the vocodered vocal, this is a light-hearted version and a lot better than some of the cover versions floating around.

Throughout this album you will notice the lack of vocals. Any singing is kept to an absolute minimum and this has the wonderful effect of grabbing the listener’s attention whenever any vocals do come through.

This is too clever to be lumped in with the torrent of dance compilation albums that are released weekly. Memphis Industries have been quietly releasing great music for over 5 years now. This compilation is just a sample of the work they release for a loyal fan base every month. Perhaps it is time the rest of us took notice.

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