There’s no doubting Justice’s credentials when it come to creating epic tunes designed to fill dance floors (worldwide). Over the course of their career, they’ve barely put a foot wrong and their albums have always sought to operate in the space between full on dance music and the rush that a rock band in full flight can create.
They initially cut their teeth in remixing the songs of others (Simian, Fatboy Slim and Britney Spears being prime examples) and they’re well versed in taking a blueprint and completely reworking it. In preparing for the tour of their 2016 album Woman, the band headed to the studio and adapted their own songs for the live arena. Woman Worldwide is essentially a re-recording of Woman, with a few added extras thrown in for good measure. Whilst it is interesting to hear many of these songs given a little extra spin, all too often there’s very little difference between the original and the tour prepped versions – leading to the question, does this album really need to exist?
Admittedly the Woman era material in particular does benefit from Justice giving it a new sheen and a kick in the pants. The album opens with Safe And Sound, which in this new slightly looser form sounds less uptight and more fluid than its original incarnation. Alakazam! finally sounds magical. In its original form it was claustrophobic and restrained, but here it is bug-eyed and charged up. Randy benefits from being inflated to the point of bursting, where once it was flat and unconvincing, it now bubbles with a new found energy and aggression.
When it comes to the old material however, there’s little here to really get over-excited about. D.A.N.C.E. for example is always a joy to hear, but isn’t really expanded upon greatly. Waters Of Nazareth was already a feral banger that needed little doing to it and it would appear that Justice feel the same way.
Where Woman Worldwide succeeds is as a reminder of Justice’s back catalogue and as a well sequenced greatest hits album, but as a half-way point between a studio album and a live album it is something of an anomaly. It lacks the excitement of a live performance as there’s no audience noise; something that is vital to the energy of a live recording. Whilst the Woman album reworkings do lend a little muscle to songs that definitely needed a little boost, the older material doesn’t really benefit from Justice’s tweaking. It’s a good solid album, but far from essential when it comes to Justice. Hopefully they’re now concentrating on making bold steps with whatever comes next, because they’ve definitely drawn a line under their older material now.