Mike Simonetti & Dan Selzer
Rvng Prsnts Mx4: Crazy Rhythms
vng’s excellent mix by Beats in Space’s Tim Sweeney was going to be hard to top, but their new one by the Crazy Rhythms DJs pips it. Crazy Rhythms are Mike Simonetti, head of Troubleman records, and Dan Selzer, who co-runs the Acute label which has been responsible for getting rare Glenn Branca and Prefects records back into the shops. Post-punk, whether reissued or rehashed, isn’t the aim on this mix though. Disco is.
Their mix opens with car headlights refracting off asphalt and the glide-by of Giorgio Moroder’s “Night Drive” from the American Gigolo soundtrack but the mix really begins with Klein & M.B.O.’s 1983 Italo track “The Big Apple” which could represent the mix as a whole when it off-handedly commands the listener to “rock, shake to the beat, rock, shake in the streets” over the sound of slap-back handclaps and echoed keyboard jitters. This fades into Wide Boy Awake, the band formed by ex-Adam and the Ants bass player Kevin Mooney. They may have a terrible, barely punning name but their “Slang Teacher,” with its electro-drums, vaporous background textures, chicken scratch guitar, and white-boy rapping is a genre blend that is still loosely skewed over twenty years after its initial release.
“Slang Teacher” leads into Massimo Barsotti’s cheap sounding version of “Whole Lotta Love.” Whilst the original is unintentionally camp, this version is deliberately tongue-in-cheek, or else delusional enough to believe that the stilted second language English phrasing could be perceived as anything else. [Un]fortunately this version lacks an electronic equivalent of the original’s mid-section Page/Plant cock rub. “Whole Lotta Love” isn’t the only cover here. There’s also a snippet from Macho’s version of “I’m a Man” that takes it somewhere the The Spencer Davis Group never expected (in the arse). The fully engorged version of this track is seventeen minutes long! The Ben Liebrand remix of “Black Betty” by Ram Jam shows the distance—geographical and temporal—that songs can travel. Beginning as a chain gang chant, “Black Betty” was recorded and popularised by Leadbelly in the 1930s, became a bubblegum hard rock hit for Ram Jam in the 1970s and ended up being remixed into a Euro hit by Dutch megamix master Liebrand in 1990 (when it got to number 13 in the UK charts.) Whilst most dancers will have shaken their stuff unaware that Black Betty is actually a whip wielded in an Alabama prison, it could possibly serve as an apposite metaphor for the DJs relationship to the dancefloor.
Crazy Rhythms bumps and has fun, it’s a mix that’s not afraid to appear foolish and which knows the value of, and the secret truth to, silliness. There’s no attempt to prove that disco was meaningful via the worst, least convincing route, that of po-faced high seriousness. Instead it shows that the best way to present musical obscurities like Amin Peck is to bring them to life in the mix. When it comes to music for dancing thinking on your feet is the best way. Selzer and Simonetti keep the mixing minimal for the most part and let the each track speak for itself, which when it comes to great records like “Crazy Rhythms” by the Feelies or “Kiss Me Again” by Dinosaur is just fine.
And it’s ridiculously cheap, so you’d be daft to miss it.