Spank Rock are spotty. Their YoYoYoYoYo (Big Dada UK 2006) was, to me, far too one-note – and the note (sex) wore awfully thin over the course of an album. To paraphrase Simon Cowell during Idol auditions, they’re not as clever as they think they are. Coming out of the B’more club scene, their take on hip-hop is guaranteed to be a hit with the hipster set, and just as guaranteed not to connect with the larger public. That’s fine, but I’d hoped for more. On their addition to the Fabriclive series, they deliver.
Sure, there’s plenty of nearly-driven-into-the-ground tracks on this mix (“The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight,” Mylo’s “Drop the Pressure,” The Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep,” even Yes’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart”), but trust me when I tell you that you’ve never heard the latter pair, in particular, in this way. Yes get chopped up liberally alongside, and sometimes with, Mylo, sliced’n’diced’n’julienned and spit back out as a sumptuous chopped salad loaded with ham and hard-boiled egg and cucumber and fresh romaine and spinach. Spank Rock’s mix revels in unexpected pairings and surprising mixing: who else might think of dropping Rick Ross’s “Hustlin'” verses into Simian Mobile Disco’s “Hustler”? (Not to mention that they do it very, very well.)
“Hustlin’,” by the way, shows up in the mix a full five tracks before it’s listed, which is another of Spank Rock’s tricks: songs enter and exit wherever they’re needed, sometimes popping up long after you think they’ve vanished into the ether. This is a mix expertly stitched together, great for a dance party but just as fine for at-home listening, because it never fails to pique interest; this is an honest-to-God original mix. (Spank Rock’s own crew of MCs also sprinkle the mix with their fair-to-middling raps which, while no great shakes, do serve to occasionally enliven the proceedings.) CSS, the Contours, Tangerine Dream, and Daft Punk all make appearances and do so naturally; they all belong in this world Spank Rock have assembled. This one’s a keeper. A-