Armand Van Helden Ghettoblaster Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Old school, yes, but not old skool!

Lewis Dene 2007

Almost three years to the day since his acclaimed mix CD, A New York Mix Odyssey, the one-initialled AVH returns with a full-blown studio album. The Bostonian’s now part of an elite group of dance producers, numbering Basement Jaxx and Faithless amongst their aggregate, that have made the transition from singles artist to album act with a fair amount of ease, and singles that chart irrespective of quality. “Touch Your Toes” with rappers Fat Joe and BL is a case in point. The wordologists may be legends within their own community, but in the dance world they sound seriously out of their depth. Yet, despite this weak link, Ghettoblaster rides the storm well.

Armand wears his influences on his sleeve like a pimp-bold badge of honour. NYC freestyle comes to the fore on “Still In Love”, borrowing hooks from Company B’s “Fascinated”. Meanwhile Todd Terry’s grinding chords from “A Day In The Life Of” make “Still In Love” all the more palatable. “I Want Your Soul” actually sounds more like a remix of Degrees In Motion’s “Do You Want It Right Now” than an ‘allegedly’ new recording.

That’s not to say the album is weaker for this. Far from it. By showing us his roots listeners have aligned themselves to Armand’s music all the more. And, although there maybe no out-and-out dance anthems like “My My My” or “Hear My Name”, “NYC Beat” and the aforementioned “I Want Your Soul” do come close.

The melting pot of styles and influences continues on “Playmate” which sounds like a lost demo from Roxanne Shante in her prime, mixed with the wordology of the Tom Tom Club. “Je T’aime” also borrows heavily from another Todd Terry production - Royal House’s acid-house standard “Can You Party”, although the twee cheese-mungous Lisa Lisa-styled ‘80s pop of “All Nite” is seriously outdated.

Unlike his label mate Norman Cook - the master of bleeding the new with old to creating wonderful aural feasts in the process - AVH’s ideas never seem to extended beyond his school disco mix tapes. Old school, yes, but not old skool!

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