Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Beats International's Excursion on the Version

I like the guy, and thus I hate to say it, but Norman Cook hasn't been able to churn out much without it sounding incredibly dated. Be it the Housemartins, Fat Boy Slim, or this early 90's project, the Beats International, all of it comes with an early best before date, with only the odd occasional single here and there being able to stay current for longer than five years.

One of those odd exceptions was Beats International's "Dub Be Good to Me" from the debut album Let Them Eat Bingo, which was Cook's cover of the SOS Band's "Just Be Good To Me" mashed with the Paul Simenon's bassline from the Clash's "Guns of Brixton." That was effectively a no-brainer, seeing as how both of those singles in themselves proved timeless.

Unfortunately, then, Cook couldn't produce anything remotely as catchy on Excursion on the Version (I bought the album because I couldn't remember the name of "Dub Be Good to Me" when I was shopping at the used record store). The album follows largely the same formula as all of Cook's post-Housemartin output (i.e. sample obscure songs to death), but focuses heavily on reggae/ska vibes, all in that sort of late-80's/early-90's filter that makes everything sound overly produced, overly polished, and overly plastic (it's as though that time period forgot about bass altogether and pushed everything through tweeters). It's all very bicycling shorts/Dwayne Wayne sunglasses/faux dreadlocks, if you catch my drift. This might have sounded good at the time (though I somehow doubt it, when compared even to Cook's better project at the time, Freakpower), but its done nothing but bloat in excess fifteen years after the fact.

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