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Tom Middleton The Trip Review

Compilation. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

Tom Middleton plies his genuis to the compilation market with this exceptional 2 CD...

Lewis Dene 2004

Double Dee & Steinski invented the art form of cut 'n' paste, Coldcut, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist perfected it, and then 2 Many DJs took it to the masses. Now Tom Middleton gets the chances to show his worth in the eclectic world of bootleg alchemists and electronica daredevils.

In a time where everything has to fall into a category, needs a pigeonhole or a tag, it's as much refreshing as it is rebellious to throw records together from every which way; reggae with '60s pop, bhangra with disco, jazz-funk with '70s boogie. Across 46-tracks, two-CDs, and every musical sub-division you could think of (even the opening classical overtures from Star Wars and Close Encounters) are all present and correct on this aural mish-mash.

What is also particularly invigorating is that Middleton has decided to feature obscure cover versions in place of the tried-and-tested (and often overly exposed) originals. So it's the Shades' punk-funk version of Diana Ross' "Upside Down", Senor Coconut's dubbed out reading of "Smooth Operator" and most intriguing of all, an Indian version of the Jacksons' "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" by Usha Uthup.

The second disc, billed as 'chill' represents the more downbeat side of the man also known as Cosmos. From Ulrich Schnauss' sublime parody of U2 on "If You've Never Been Away" to beautifully crafted '70s soul nuggets like "Riding High" (Faze-O) and "Daylight" (Ramp). This is a far more mature and edifying selection that gels together beautifully and similarly features several alternative versions of well known classics, including Harpers Bizarre's version of "Knock On Wood" and Ramsey Lewis' jazzy rendition of "Dear Prudence".

Whilst not trying to copy the styles of any of the aforementioned kings of cut 'n' paste, Middleton has bridged the gap somewhere between studio trickery and mobile disco. And without wanting to sound derogatory to the self-styled Jedi Knight, or the latter that ply their trade in pubs and socials every weekend, the musical selection (particularly on disc one - the party CD) is more representative of what they might play (albeit with a little more thought process in the selection and programming) then at a 'serious' club night.

Although that was the last thing in Middleton's mind: "I wasn't interested in competing with those mediocre DJ sound-alike mixes chock full of soulless house and breaks, or those excruciatingly dull chillout comps," he declares in the sleeve notes. So with that in mind he's succeeded in creating a voyage of discovery full of originality and eclecticism. Essential.

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