PEANUT BUTTER WOLF Badmeaningood (Whoa/Ultimate Dilemma)
This is the third instalment in the "Badmeaningood" series, following works by Skitz and Roots Manuva. To recap, as the sleevenotes explain, "Through the track-list on each album the compiler will define their own unique vision of hip hop, selecting the tracks that, in their opinion, inspired, defined and reinvented the genre". Give a DJ such a remit and the temptation to showcase the width and depth of his or her record shelves runs rampant, a healthy eclecticism wilfully pushed to the point of ridicule. Peanut Butter Wolf's scattershot selection flits like a butterfly past Grandmaster Flash, Lord Alibaski and 45 King, and almost before you realise the CD has started we're at track 5, Iron Butterfly's 1969 tune "Soul Experience", not, you may think, a key hip hop text. "I love the confidence in his voice", explains Mr Wolf in the booklet - uh, and ?
The problem with mix albums like this is that the music doesn't really get an opportunity to speak for itself. The contextualisation, the juxtaposition, is everything, the performance next to nothing. Discussing Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out", Peanut offers "The songwriting is the strong point. Not necessarily the lyrics , but the chords and arrangements". I can practically hear some Feedback contributors tearing their hair at comments like that.
Which doesn't mean that there aren't some fine moments here: the long, silky, seamless, Hammond-heavy segue of Johnny Hammond's "Fantasy", Roy Ayers' "Can't You See Me", Alicia Myers' "Don't Stop What You're Doin'" and Bernard Wright's "The Master Rocker" is one such. Who would have thought that an old Human League b-side, "Hard Times", would morph into a bodypopping soundtrack? And I'm somewhat better placed to appreciate the grace and ease of the aforementioned Joe Jackson tune than when it used to clog up "Top Of The Pops" in my childhood. Michael White's "Let Love Be Your Magic Carpet" is like Weather Report downing a spoonful of sugar, and Prince Far I's deeply dubby "Black Man Land" - seemingly consisting primarily of a recitation of the lyrics to "Rivers Of Babylon" - sounds pleasantly agricultural in this sophisticated company. But, ultimately Peanut Butter Wolf's "Badmeaningood" is lower on substance than it is on style: hopefully the next edition, helmed by UNKLE collaborators Scratch Perverts, might kick-start this somewhat moribund series.