VA: Famous When Dead 5

In this particularly strong fifth outing in Playhouse's Famous When Dead series, the German label celebrates thirteen years of operation with eleven sterling cuts, most of them originally issued in 12-inch form and now collected onto CD for the first time. Stuttgart trio Rework sets the bar ridiculously high at the outset by backing a punchy swirl of amour-obsessed female voices with a beautiful bass-driven stomp in “Love Love Love Yeah”; other exceptional moments include Max Mohr's “Lucky Go Wild,” where a gleaming synthesizer battalion sings sweetly over an electrohouse shuffle, My My's “Southern Comfort,” which ends the album with a blissful marriage of harp strums and gentle propulsion, and Boardroom member Pete Lazonby's driving slice of throbbing technofunk (“I Miss U”) where normal and chipmunk variations of the title utterance generate extra interest. Also strong, Roman Flügel (under the Soylent Green alias) infuses the steamy electrohouse grind of “La Forza Del Destino” with a subtle hint of Latin swing, and then gives Rework's “Jogging Beat” an alluring synth-pop treatment. Isolée brings his customary unique touch to “The Jacko Theme,” a grooving cocktail of galaxial synth streams and percolating funk, while Frankfurt duo Einzelkind pursues a slightly different direction by infusing its electrofunky “Spam Bot” with foundsound and Minus flavour and Infant Records' head Simon Baker stokes nine minutes of snarling minimal electro in the relentlessly churning “Plastik.” Only Losoul's ‘Hot Edit' makeover of Unknownmix's 1989 cut “The Siren” disappoints but that's due to the grating vocalizing of the original, not Losoul's valiant updating. Generously stuffed comps of this type usually scatter a handful of strong cuts amidst otherwise solid but less spectacular offerings, but Famous When Dead 5 proves the exception to the rule with almost entirely high-quality material from start to finish.

July 2007