There are some record labels that pretty much guarantee quality...Catskills is one of ‘em. Home to the funky, spunky and punky they’re just about to release a double album culled from their first 11 and a half years. Yes…11 and a half years. Not for Catskills any of that boring old 10th anniversary business. Nah. For a label as wilfully eclectic (folktronica, soul, jazz, hip hop, reggae, punk…as they say, ‘It’s all about the head nod factor’) you’d expect nothing less eh?
Quite a few of the tracks here are real Catskills classics. There’s a bunch of Pepe Deluxe and Husky Rescue’s finest and two from the Midlands’ very own indie punksters (and Hearing Aid favourites) The Ripps, including the frankly awesome ‘Holiday’ (not since the heyday of the mighty Buzzcocks has punk pop been quite so glorious). But, like any good compilation, there’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t know yet (either ‘cos you’ve missed it or it’s as fresh as a newly opened bag of kitty litter).
Opening track, Black Grass’ Hold Fire, is a funk classic, pure and simple. If you’re a fan of Quantic Soul Orchestra you need this in your life. Aldo Vanulli’s ‘I Am A King’ takes low rider hip hop (you know just want to be driving down the road in one of the funky ass cars that bounce up and down) to new heights. Then there’s a live version of Pepe Deluxe’s Pussy Cat Rock - Iggy and The Stooges meets The Cramps’ Surfin Bird…it's a garage / psych / disco / groovy beat happening. That’s just a snapshot of side one.
Slip in the second disc and you’re carried away on Sonorous Star’s Indian Motorcycle, as hypnotic as a four eyed snake charmer, swiftly followed by The Mexican with Spunky Love Fun - J5 meets Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames. Disc Two also includes what I’m guessing is the labels biggest hit so far, Pepe Deluxe’s classic, Levi twisted jeans endorsed ‘Before You Leave’…the big beat, sampledelic booty shaker that soundtracked one of the weirdest ads ever (you know, the one with the twisty people). Listening back to the track for the first time in a few years it still sounds surprisingly fresh. Other highlights include Hardkandy’s ‘Advice’, featuring a genuine music legend, Mr Terry Callier, on vocals. String tinged soul, it kinda reminds me of Anthony and the Johnsons meets Love. Absolutely lush and worth the price of the album on its own. I could go on but that would spoil the fun - and there’s a bucket load to be had here - this is an album you really need to discover for yourself. Contender for compilation of the year? No doubt. In a word…purrfect.
11 and a half out of 10
Catskills 1st XI is out on Monday 27th October 2008.