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  Playgroup DJ Kicks: Playgroup
Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5

by Sterling McGarvey

Playgroup press photo 2002 seems to be the year that everyone is really, really pushing 1982. Electroclash is all the rage. The sounds of a new wave revival seem to be rushing through clubs. If a DJ plays 80's classics during a lull in a night, he or she can expect a near-immediate rush in dancefloor traffic. While the buzz about the 80's has reached near-deafening levels throughout the year, the sounds of the early part of the decade seem to fail to be represented. When people talk "80s," they talk pop tunes. Many people associate the sounds of electroclash with a new wave aesthetic.

What about the evolution of funk, r&b, and the very nascent hip-hop that occurred in the early 80's? What about the advent of house? Trevor Jackson, the mastermind behind Playgroup, hasn't forgotten about those sounds. As a producer and graphic designer, his skills as both a crate-digger and as an album cover conceptualist (working on covers for the likes of Todd Terry and the Stereo MCs, among a plethora of other artists) have garnered him a great deal of respect throughout Europe. Playgroup's contribution to the !K7 collection echoes a fondness for the section of the 80's that seems to be forgotten in the rush to pole vault aboard the bandwagon. This DJ-Kicks effort eschews skinny ties and ripped jeans in favor of Adidas tracksuits and body-jacking. At some points, he even takes it all the way into the days of box fade haircuts and Afrocentric leather medallions with pukka shells.

I:Cube's reworking of Ana Rago's "You're God" channels the crunchy percussion of One Way's "Cutie Pie." Material's "Ciquiri" delivers the deep, nasty basslines of a funk workout, a la Chic. While Impedance's cover of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" takes away the trademark synth stabs of the original and replaces them with a dubby bassline. Tiny Trendies' "The Sky Is Not Falling," a DJ favorite, also finds its place among the mix. The Salt City Orchestra reworking of Charles Schillings' "No Communication, No Love" clangs out chunky percussion over a deep bassline and soaring synthesizers.

The Fully Bearded Mix of Jay Walk's "Buggin' Becky" revives the old school funk feel of a "blue lights in the basement" party of 20-odd years past. Between the pulsing bassline, ringing cowbells, and "jack your body"-esque vocal sample, KC Flight's "Let's Get Jazzy" brings back the primal feel of an old school house track. If the sounds of KC Flight aren't enough, Jackson breaks out Ralphi Rosario's oh-so-1989 "Get Up, Get Out." The coup de grace of the album comes first in the punch of Dexter's "I Don't Care" combined with the acapella of Wanda Dee's "Gonna Make You Sweat," which sounds like the Mothership landed somewhere in Chicago during the short-lived hip house trend of the late-80s and early-90s. The next punch hits directly below the belt with the dirty funk and punk vocals (they almost go together like a "surf and turf" combo, don't they?) of The Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers." If this one doesn't get the beer swilling, fist-pumping crew riled up, God only knows what will. It's the kind of track that would make a drunken weekend warrior rip off his shirt Hulk Hogan-style on the dancefloor and pelt people with cocktail ice.

All in all, this edition of the DJ-Kicks is consistent in quality, with a hard spike at the finale of the disc. Jackson's track selections are guaranteed to perk ears. He has managed to make a mix that is distinctly retro in essence, but gives it a contemporary flair. The Playgroup effort for !K7 is one that will put a new (and funky) face on electroclash before the genre potentially goes the way of the omnipresent "Ibiza compilation." It won't blow you out of the stratosphere, but it will keep you entertained during the wee hours.

At Amazon.com

DJ Kicks from Amazon.com DJ Kicks
by Playgroup

Track Listing:

  1. We - Boofa
  2. You're God [I:Cube Remix]
  3. Ciquri [Discomix] - Material
  4. Set It Off
  5. Tainted Love - Impedance
  6. Broken Mirror - Random Factor
  7. Ma Foom Bey [Love Chant Version] - Cultural Vibe
  8. Caught Up - Metro Area
  9. Sky Is Not Crying - Tiny Trendies
  10. To Our Disco Friends
  11. Tunnel Music
  12. No Communication, No Love [Salt City Orchestra Mix] - Charles Schillings
  13. March of General [Chicken Lips Conquest Dub] - Nigo
  14. Buggin' Becky [Fully Bearded Mix]
  15. Let's Get Jazzy [Dopy Dub Mix] - KC Flightt
  16. Do or Die [Dub] - Human League
  17. Anti Social Tendencies - The Parallax Corporation
  18. Get Up Get Out - Ralphi Rosario
  19. Still Hott 4 U - Bobby 'O'
  20. I Don't Care
  21. Gonna Make You Sweat [Acapella] [Acapella] - Wanda Dee
  22. House of Jealous Lovers - The Rapture
  23. Money B - The Flying Lizards

Order Now at Amazon.com

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