It’s sad when a club mixer starts getting self-doubts. It’s not about the music, House is House and shall always be, but DJ Juan now doubts the relevance of the mix tape: “… anyone can make their own mix… why bother putting them out at all?” True, any one CAN pull together a mix, but in the same sense, anyone can boil some spaghetti and throw some tomato sauce on it, but no one questions the need for Italian restaurants. What the professional DJ brings to the party (as it were) is the time and professional need to listen to virtually everything out there and assemble crowd-pleasing sets, showcase the obscure and promising, and take us back to hits we heard once, very late at night, and can’t remember who did them. I have no problem with DJs releasing this sort of mix since they do such a better job than I ever will. Personally, I just take MP3s, make them into WAV files, and burn them to a CD in alphabetical order. Ride with me, and you’ll start with Alien Ant Farm and end with either ZZ Top or Frank Zappa. Cripes, it bores me just writing it down.
So what has DJ Juan uncovered for us on this !K7 release? As always, there are a few nuggets and a few stinkers. Hands down best title goes to “Spaghetti Circus” by Still Going. It’s a classic looped vocal over a driving rhythm section — nothing spectacular but not a bad cut in the middle of so big a set. “Take Me” by A+O is another old-school cut, so similar to the following track you can’t tell they switched (sort of good), but so pared down, there’s nothing to get you excited. The oldest track on this collection is 1988’s “Don’t Take It” by Armando. There’s an infusion of 1980s Mario sound effects and a squeaky vocal/scratch track that pops up occasionally. I’m not sure how to describe it except as weasels on helium having sex. We next retire to the super VIP super lounge (do clubs still have super lounges? is the blow still complimentary?) to chill with Giom’s “I Know You Were Right.” It’s slick and smooth and causes the smell of Axe and Givenchy to rise from my CD player to that 2 a.m. crescendo — the beat is on, we are flying high, and the dawn is still too far away to worry about. I’ll mention one more noteworthy cut here: Shit Robot’s “Simple Things.” It’s a great cut, not a beat fast or slow from what surrounds it, but I admit, this is one disc I’d buy just for the band name. Dancing is one sacred event, but owning a record by a band called Shit Robot — that’s possibly the most holy experience you can have.
Juan MacLean: www.juanmaclean-djkicks.com