One of this year's biggest albums in the United Kingdom has been Basement Jaxx's "The Singles." For the past six years, they have made crazy house music, drawing from dance, techno, salsa, funk, and many other different genres. They appeal to both the underground and the mainstream and millions dance the night away to their classic choons in clubs every single weekend around the world. The success of the Basement Jaxx is due in part to the crazy sounds, the catchy melodies and the mysterious guest vocalists who sing with such passion over the futuristic beats that Simon Radcliffe and Felix Burton whip up behind the control panel.
This album has done amazingly well in the charts over here in the UK, and I think that is due in part to the fact that everyone loves the singles, but not many are really passionate enough about the duo to buy one of their studio albums. This album crams in 15 massive dance floor fillers from the past six years for arguably the greatest collection of real dance music ever. This isn't bland, mindless drivel dance music, because it has substance and style. "Remedy," "Rooty" and "Kish Kash" are the three studio albums that the Jaxx have released to date, and this album takes all the big hits from them and compiles this flawless collection of classics that is sure to get any party started.
The album opens up with "Red Alert" which was the band's first ever hit from back in early 1999. This song stormed dance floors worldwide and features Blue James on vocals. The melody is anthemic and the beats are out of this world. "Good Luck" was taken from the Jaxx's third album and is a wonderful concoction of pop and rock, merged together to create a funky club banger. The vocals are very direct and powerful from Lisa Kekaula as she sings about a man who has done her wrong. "Romeo" features Kele LeRoc on vocals and is one of the band's most enduring hit singles. This song has a driving beat that rises over and over again in the chorus. The Bollywood influence is very appealing, making for a culturally diverse song. This was a big hit single back in 2001 and taken from their second album. "Oh My Gosh" is a brand new song recorded especially for this album, and has been a huge hit in 2005. This is a very funny and funky song that sees vocalist Vula Malinga singing about a guy she has fallen head over heels in love with! The video is hilarious as she dresses up as an old woman in an old people's home and sings about this guy.
"Bingo Bango" is one of the band's biggest hits and one of those songs that you've heard a million times but never knew was by the Jaxx. This is also one of my favourites they have ever released, because the beat is insane. Cassie Watson provides the main vocals, and the only line is "Bing-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-bingo!" The song has an amazing keyboard section and an amazing brass section running through it. "Where's Your Head At?" is arguably the most famous Basement Jaxx song ever and was featured in the original Tomb Raider movie starring Lara Croft from 2001. The beat on this song is so hardcore and very ear-catching. The vocals are penetrating, and the song drives a wedge into your brain making for an unforgettable dance floor classic that millions will remember for the rest of their lives. The monkey video scared the hell out of me, but it's still pretty damn cool. The lyrics are also just insane, as Damien Peachey sings, "Don't let the walls cave in on you! We can live on, live on without you!" The summer of 1999 will always be remembered for "Rendez-Vu," the next song on this album. This was the band's second single from their debut album, and is just a beautiful dance song! The Spanish influence is amazing and makes for such a heated summer song. The guitar reminds of Flamenco and the beat is driving, relentlessly in your brain. Felix provides the main vocals on this song and does a brilliant job, making this one of only two Top 5 UK hit singles for the band (the other being "Red Alert.").
"Jump N' Shout" is one of the band's lesser known singles, but is one of my personal favourites. It was lifted from their first album Remedy (which peaked at No.2 in the UK). This song may take a few listens to actually grow on you, but once it does you won't be able to get it out of your head! The beat is very catchy and the main vocal lines by Slarta John are very rough and heavy! He provides some wicked freestyling over this beat that gets higher and higher every time. This of course creates a sense of anticipation in the build up to the chorus of "Got ta jump n' shout!" The next song is the incredibly "Lucky Star." This song was taken from their third album and features UK hip-hop sensation Dizzie Rascal on main vocals. Since I can't understand a word he's singing, I love the chorus even more with the female vocal line of "This better be my lucky star!" Perhaps the biggest guest vocal the Jaxx have ever enlisted the help of is that of JC Chasez who features on "Plug It In." This song is also lifted from their third album and I was gutted when it only made No.22 in the UK charts! This song is absolutely insane and is like Prince on acid. The beat drives hard and the build up to the chorus is incredible. The beat that charges at JC sings, "Plug it IN, plug it IN, baby!" is timeless. "U Don't Know Me" is the latest single from the Jaxx and was released last month. This version is a lot slower than the remix of the single version, but it's still pretty good.
"Do Your Thing" is lifted from the Jaxx's second album and closed that album in fine style. This song is pure piano-barelling house music and possibly the gayest song they've ever released! Apparently, if you don't like this song, you're too straight for you're own good! Good job I'm not then! "Jus 1 Kiss" is remarkable and shows just how well the Jaxx can construct a solid beat. The moment the chorus soars "HIGH!" as the groove kicks in ranks amongst the best moments out of any Basement Jaxx song. "Flylife" doesn't feature on any of their three studio albums and instead was released in 1997 before they made it big. "Samba Magic" closes the album and opens with a foot-stomping, hand-clapping beat. This is a really funky song yet it's also quite chilled and laid-back. You could listen to this song on the beach and be ready to jump up dancing yet also relax and feel the ocean breeze wash over you.
OVERALL GRADE: 10/10
I wouldn't be giving this album a solid 10/10 were it not for the second disc that also comes with it. The first disc contains 15 classics, and the second disc has 14 brilliant 'Bonus Traxx' that are, essentially, the A-Sides and B-Sides from the singles they have released. There's remixed versions of some of their biggest hits and also some amazing songs that I've never heard before such as "I Beg You," "I Live In Camberwell," "Onyx," "Mere Pass" and "Ha Choo." All in all I reckon that this collection is a must have for anyone who loves the Basement Jaxx but wasn't brave enough to buy one of their studio albums. That in itself is rather ironic, considering I went out yesterday and bought all three of their studio albums! I suspect the sales of those albums has risen dramatically since the release of The Singles as people realise just how innovative and timeless this band are.