Monday, June 29, 2009

Howie B - "Another Late Night" (LP Review)

Sometimes the total is less than the sum of the parts. I like Howie B, and I like DJ mix LPs -- I probably own at least a dozen from the various Another Late Night/Late Night Tales, Back to Mine and DJ-Kicks series as well a handful more outside of those series (e.g., see my review of DJ Shadow's "Funky Skunk").

Unfortunately, Howie B's entry in the Another Late Night series does not come together. In fact, this is probably my least favorite DJ mix LP -- Howie B just goes through the motions, playing the tracks one after another (almost all of them in their entirety), with little feel for transitions or even an attempt to mix them. It has the following tracks (lifted from

  1. "What It Is?" - The Undisputed Truth
  2. "Love's Theme" - Love Unlimited Orchestra
  3. "Twilight" - Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
  4. "I Changed My Mind" (Stereo MCs Rattlesnake mix) - Lyrics Born & The Poets of Rhythm
  5. "Uplink" - Stratus
  6. "Mirage" - Santana
  7. "Walking In Rhythm" - The Blackbyrds
  8. "Summer Hot" - Curtis Mayfield
  9. "Contrazoom" (featuring Alison Goldfrapp) - Spacer
  10. "Respiration" - Black Star
  11. "Work The Angles" - Dilated Peoples
  12. "Heavy Tune" - Gong
  13. "Under The Boardwalk" - Howie B
  14. "Violets Don't Be Blue" - Herbie Mann

Only the transition between "Work the Angles" and "Heavy Tune" has the semblance of a mix, the rest sound like the work of a radio DJ and not a club DJ. The track listing is suspect too: "Love's Theme" is obvious -- no points awarded there (you might as well sample "Funky Drummer"). The requisite rap tracks are good ("I Changed My Mind", "Respiration" and "Work the Angles") as is "Uplink", but the rest of the tracks are dominated by too many meandering 1970s fusion jams ("What It Is?", "Mirage", "Twilight", "Walking in Rhythm", "Summer Hot", "Heavy Tune"). They're not necessarily individually bad (ok, "Mirage" is pretty bad), but how many do we really need?

The biggest head scratcher is probably Howie B's version of "Under the Boardwalk" -- it sounds like a midi version suitable for karaoke. I mean that in the worst possible way. Including some of your own work in a mix is de rigeur, but Howie B insults us with this throwaway track.

If this was your first DJ mix LP, you might not ever purchase another one. A more skilled DJ could salvage this song selection with innovative mixing. Or, minus the mixing, a more thoughtful track selection would have been ok. To fail at both is unforgivable.

Standout Tracks: "I Changed My Mind", "Respiration", "Work the Angles", "Uplink", "Love's Theme"

Skip 'em Tracks: Pretty much the rest.

Final Score: 4/10. You might enjoy some songs individually -- this score reflects the presentation as a mix LP.

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