Compilations are a hazy, often risky business to invest in. Of course the record companies don’t think so. But the problem manifests itself on the front line, across the indistinguishable racks of “ultimate, best of, classic, sounds of…” CDs that litter commercial record stores.
Visit an independent dealer and ask them for a good introduction to a genre and the bearded, pot-bellied anorak behind the till will wiggle his index finger to a dusty corner and pullout six records; or they’ll politely tell you to do it the old-fashioned way and explore yourself.
If you ask Mr Anorak about New York however, he’ll shrug his shoulders, scratch his ass and ask: “Which part?” So here’s a tip. If you ever happen to be in New York City, head over to Manhattan’s 3rd Street. Keep going down until you find yourself sandwiched between avenues B and C of the East Village quarter. At 217 you’ll find the Plant Bar. Open daily from 6pm-2am it is the place to be for dance, a place to be seen (or be seen with), a place where the hip and happenin’ sound of young Noo Yawk can be found. Though Hubert Selby Jr might disagree.
But for those of us who can’t make the air fare, nor the Abu Ghraib treatment of US immigration, Plant step forward to bring their notorious club nights of New York’s burgeoning electro-dance scene to the masses. The scene has been brewing for years, but only recently has it started to make waves – Radio 4, The Faint, !!! and even the irrepressible Scissor Sisters who had a dalliance with it during their early days.
Now you may be wondering why I’m talking mumbo jumbo about electro when the likes of The Stills feature on here. I pondered the same thing, especially with artwork that suggested CBGBs more than anything else; a quaint old-to-new reference. As it turns out, the extended mix of Still In Love Song is uplifting and danceable to, unlike the Prozac anthem sitting on Logic Will Break Your Heart.
Along with !!!’s soon-to-be-classic anthem Me And Giuliani, and the rip-roaring electro-punk of Dead Combo’s You Don’t Look So Good, Plant provide the pick of a fascinating snapshot of a prospective electro New York. The opening trio of Itchy Revolutions, Ursula 1000‘s trippier take on the Faint, and D’Boldiss are New Yorkers through and through, who easily get the floor going at Plant, but are pretty unremarkable unless you set your bass to window shattering level.
I:Cube with RZA in tow adds some much needed hip-hop to the mix. Unfortunately the rest of the hip-hoppers, the punks, the garage rockers, the jazz maestros and the modern bohemians frittering away in an NYC-inspired buzz of creativity do not feature. But these groups have been a staple of NYC culture for aeons and will have their own compilations available in all good record stores.
Despite a questionable title, Plant are definitely on to something here, as they were with Volume I. My advice: open your windows and turn up the bass; something new and exciting is being uprooted from New York.