Another commission for Three Bar Fire
The idea of a real dance music long player, rather than a concept album or an exploration of influences (some tiresome jazz noodling or ethno hip hop for example) has always been a bit of an anomaly. Surely the whole point of a sweaty rave anthem is in its impact on the dance floor, not at home on the family stereo? X-press 2 clearly think its time to unleash the greatest bits of their back catalogue on the world, and it’s the tracks that sound like accidents in music making rather than dance floor ‘bombs’ that really make the grade.
A classic collaboration, once known as a ‘collective’ between longstanding Balearic scenster DJ’s Rock, Diesel and outstanding black music nerd, Ashley Beedle, Xpress 2 first made a splash in the early nineties. Clubland then was in the midst of a post rave adolescence, and the vogue was for tribal New York inspired club tracks such as ‘London Xpress’, ‘Smoke Machine’ and ‘Muzik Xpress’… which are all included here. Much as these particular tunes are competent examples of big room tribal house groovers, they are not great. As Stevie said, “Just because a records got a groove, doesn’t mean it’s in the groove” and the test of time hasn’t treated the thumping beats and derivative drum rolls particularly favourably.
X-press 2 however resurfaced around about the turn of the millennium, and having dropped the badges of house credibility that plagued their earlier efforts (and possibly laid off the accompanying recreational accompaniments), they took a new direction recruiting a selection of guest vocalists and returning to their Balearic roots.It’s these tunes that really make the album, from the David Byrne collaboration ‘Lazy’, (prob the best slackers anthem since Happy Mondays sung about Lazyitis); through to ‘Kill 100’, (featuring Rob Harvey from The Music), a downbeat electronic-Goth monster referencing classic Underworld tech rock stomp.
The highlight of this whole record however is ‘Give It’ a classic atmospheric slow burning piano groove voiced by Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner; a real highlight that points to what could have been with the talent on offer here.‘Raise Your Hands’ is a good album. Though not a great one… and its certainly nowhere near the dance floor legacy it hopes to be. This Greatest Hits collection exists as less than a sum of its parts; ideal if you’re reliving your misspent youth, but otherwise its a disco strut that just falls a bit flat...