When I was a teenager, before the advent of iPods, I was quite fond of making mix CDs. It was always just for my own amusement and I would make artwork for it also. But the crux upon what would I would deem a successful compilation was not the tracks chosen, the mood ascertained, or the gratification of the tunes themselves. Instead, subconsciously my aim seemed to be to make my own “THE MOST ECLECTIC MIX IN THE WORLD…. EVER!” series.
Tracks from the Beastie Boys and Ugly Duckling would site next to REM’s “Everybody Hurts” which would segue into a Mos Def song called “A Soldier’s Dream” which had Mos rambling over a nice hip hop beat which would then play into, a song from a Star Wars soundtrack or something. It made perfect sense to me at the time although their erratic moods might have gone a long way to reasoning why they weren’t really listened to. But they were important to me because despite the evident duds and tracklisting misdemeanors, maybe 30-40% of those songs I grew up loving and influenced the music I’m listening to now. It’s also the reason I can listen to Panda Bear’s brilliant Person Pitch and not think twice when I play Viktor Vaughn’s (aka MF Doom) Vaudeville Villain straight afterwards. As Duke Ellington’s famous quote goes “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.”
Fred Deakin understands and applies this concept to his mammoth 3 CD ode-to-his-record-collection-mix “The Triptych”. 4 hours of lovingly compiled genre-hopping songs from the last 50 years are put back to back taking in artists such as Rick James, Roni Size, Kenny Rankin, George Michael, Madness, Steve Miller, Bugz in the Attic, Bananarama, Technotronic, Kurtis Blow, XTC, Pentagle, The Rutles, Japan, Thin Lizzy, Supergrass and many unknowns. So for the record, it covers Ska, Funk, Techno, Drum & Bass, Soul, Rock, Muzak, Rap, House, Breakbeat, Pisstake-Pop, Stoner Rock, R & B, Electronic … you get the picture.
The achievement here is that, unlike my early attempts at mix CDs, Deakin (also known as member of Lemon Jelly) transfers his enthusiasm for his collection into a willfully exuberant mish-mash of quality song after quality song, which never bores and keeps the ears piqued. It reminds me of that rare Air – Deck Safari 4-CD promo collection which had Godin and Dunckel examining their collections laying their influences for Moon Safari on the table. But possibly where Deakin trumps over Air’s transparency is through the liner notes on each track.
We get a real picture of his absorption into music from an early age (Listening to Rick James at school lunchtimes doing Vodka bongs / Realising as a schoolboy he could go see live music by Impossible Dreamers – a band he was idolising at the time), disappointments (Turning down a George Michael remix) and amusing insights (being encouraged by St Etienne / owning a copy of The Durutti Column’s first album which had a sandpaper cover designed to ruin the records next to it in his collection). It’s this context which gives the compilation its edge and allows the listener to share in Deakin’s utter joy with each track unlike my youthly train-wreck mixes, so I appreciate the compilation all the more. 🙂
What follows is samples of the kind of tunes to expect on The Triptych.
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Sometimes Always