Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium

Another round-up of the best, the worst, and the most intriguing trash of the past and present.

(April 2008)         

I am pouring some decidedly non-Euro Sierra Nevada Pale Ales at the Atlanta, GA King Pigeon Offices while listening to these tunes.

Nadia - Show Me What You Got (Original Mix)

It will come as little surprise that weird Canada has waved the Eurodance flag with greater enthusiasm than their hip-hop- and country-western-loving neighbors to the south. Canada's Nadia warbled a number of pumping dance tunes, but her finest moment might be the mid-tempo "Show Me What You Got." Verses have a pleasant calypso quality (nice for a twirl on the deck of "The Love Boat") before seguing into goosebump choruses. A hard one to find either legally or not; I tracked down my 12" through the excellent website.

DJ Professor - Rock Me Steady (Techno Club Mix)

Remember the days before Snap!'s "Rhythm is a Dancer" was even a glint in a German music producer's eye and Eurodance and hardcore techno were pretty much one and the same thing? DJ Professor's "Rock Me Steady" is a fine representative of that time. It steals a bit from Vangelis's "Pulstar" (any doubt over my accusation will certainly be erased in the "techno club mix's" final minute and a half). But this is a fine celebration of the ADD-driven production style characteristic of an era that guaranteed plenty of sprained ankles and sore hips by the end of the night.

High Contrast - Days Go By

In the mid-1990s a group calling itself the Jungle Committee laid down a series of ground-rules governing the sound and attitude of jungle/drum and bass music, because what true artist wouldn't want to be handcuffed by lots and lots of silly rules? I doubt that in those days a song sampling Stevie Nicks would have found much acceptance in that humorless circle. Thank God that's all a part of the distant past, as drum and bass has never sounded so astonishing and colorful as it does today. Here, a fellow calling himself High Contrast serves up a stellar tune sampling the classic "Edge of Seventeen." The original was a flawed pop tune; in Mr. Contrast's hands it gets stripped down to the bare essentials (i.e, the only parts you really liked from it anyway, like that cool guitar line at the start, Ms. Nicks singing, "Just like the white winged dove," and, well, that's pretty much it, isn't it?). Also be sure to check out the versatile Mr. Contrast's excellent music video homage to giallo films, called "When the Lights Go Down," which he directed.

London Elektricity vs. Logistics - Search Engine

...and here's another drum and bass number from a couple years back that demonstrates how perky and beautiful the music has become during this decade.

Dara Rolins - Chuť si ťa nájde

Catchy electro pop number from Slovakian-born Dara Rolins. Like several of her blonde U.S. pop equivalents, her career began on a children's show (sorta like the "Mickey Mouse Club" stateside). Her name is an Anglicizing of a more traditionally Slovakian polysyllabic birth name. The tune is great.

Frank Popp Ensemble - Fonce Dans le Coeur

I first heard this over breakfast at a friend's apartment in Paris, which is the best way you could ever be introduced to it. The group is German, actually. They had a big retro-kitsch hit back in 2003 with "Hip Teens Don't Wear Blue Jeans"; this charmer elevates that formula into the realm of sublime art.

Fabrika - Ne vinovataya ya (I'm Not Guilty) (Фабрика - Не Виноватая Я)

Russia and the West are not on the best of terms these days, which is why Fabrika needs to be deployed immediately in order to remind us of the things we like about Russia: beautiful, tall, leggy girls for starters. Fabrika were a girl group put together on a music TV show competition (similar to the way Girls Aloud was assembled on UK's "Popstars: The Rivals"). Not sure when this song was released; Wikipedia currently states that the group had only one album, in 2003, but for all I know they may now be putting out new singles in Russia. Write in if you can set me straight on all things Fabrika!

Kylie Minogue - In My Arms

The Queen of Trash is back and continues to demonstrate effortless proficiency for churning out perfect, radio-friendly tunes like this one.

Bob Sinclar - Together (Radio Edit)

Every Bob Sinclar song either acknowledges that it steals from another tune or it doesn't acknowledge this but steals anyway. This tune is in the latter category, and for months it's been driving me nuts that I cannot identify the source of that big keyboard bit. Help? As for "Together," it's pleasant, but to be honest, I'm getting a bit tired of Mr. Sinclar's jolly happy sunsplashed sound--not to mention those ubiquitous beaming kids in all his videos.

Alex Gaudino feat. Sam Obernik - Que pasa contigo (Extended Mix)

Alex Gaudino is a record-making machine, and he hits far more often than he misses. Sometimes it's a problem figuring out which one Gaudino tune I'll recommend this go-around (i.e., how about his superb "Reaction," or his remix of "The Year of the Cat"?). Today we settle on "Que pasa contigo," which brings back the super-awesome Sam Obernik, whose vocals made Tim Deluxe's 2002 hit "It Just Won't Do" all that. God, I love this chick's voice! Alex throws in some whimsical whistling, layers things for maximum effect, and pretty soon even the most introverted clubber is out there on the dance floor with his umbrella drink doing the...the lambada?!!?!?! Do they still do the lamabada?!?!?!?

Crush and Alexandra Ungureanu - Hello

Romania's Crush and Alexandra Ungureanu displayed their songwriting chops before with the catchy "Aprinde dragostea." But "Hello" is their masterpiece, a gorgeous, trancy tune that will have every non-speaker of Romanian registering for a language course. And the music video is probably the best video I have ever seen from a Romanian group. It cleverly features the group playing various supporting roles throughout. Do yourself a favor: go to YouTube and watch it right now.

Favretto and Naan - Yes U R (Favretto Original)

Favretto's MySpace page is worth a visit; he looks like the essence of tru-Trash. This is one sexy tune, with a galloping bassline, chopped-up electric guitars, and a fine female vocal performance.

Trashcan Jack vs. Billy Idol (Club Wedding Club Mashup Mix)

Some dummy/genius has spliced together Billy Idol's "White Wedding" with Bassheads' 1991 hit "Is There Anybody Out There? (Just Get Up and Dance)." All hail the pumping pianos!!!

Blackwood - My Love for You (7" Mix)

Can't say for sure, but I'll bet this is Italian, because most of the great, pumping house tracks from the 1990s came to us by way of the Italians. Superb transitions from the verses into choruses here—this song really swoops right in and sweeps you up. It's showing its age, but that only adds to its charms. Yeah, sorta like me!

Lost N Found - Be My Baby (Radio Mix)

The tru-Trash dum-dum sound. You always loved "Be My Baby," didn't you? But didn't you always think it needed to be cranked up to 140 bpm? Your prayers have been answered!

(April 2008)         

Ebony - Reflections

Got hooked on the old German music TV show "Musikladen" recently, where I saw Ebony perform a few tunes, including this spectacular Euro-disco cover of the Supremes' "Reflections." Which makes sense, since Ebony were basically a Eurodisco version of the Supremes. This is another one of those tricky to track down tunes, but 7" records of this are affordable via I'm not being paid by to endorse their services, by the way, but I should be! ;-)

Grand Plaz - Wow Wow Na Na (B1 Extended Mix)

I've also been watching episodes of "The Hitman and Her," an old late-night British club show, on YouTube. There I was introduced to this fabulous cover of the enduring "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," here retitled, "Wow Wow Na Na." This is another record I had to order—the illegal music underground is replete with wrongly-labled MP3s of this song. The sample here is from the true original 12" extended mix, and it comes direct from a 12" record sent to me from...why Israel, of course! Shalom! I love this age!

Anticappella - Everyday (Extended Mix)

More "Hitman and Her" stuff, a tune once performed "live" on that show by Italian Eurotrash legends Anticappella that is perfect in its classic tru-trashness. Like DJ Professor (see above), here is another fine example of the growing tension between the hardcore techno scene and the then-gestating Eurodance one.

Noel Sinner - Pull Over (Original Mix)

I usually hate two-note songs, and I have often gawked in amazement as the likes of DJ Tiësto (the world's number 1 DJ! TM) have not only gotten away with them, but ascended to God-like DJ status while releasing them. But for some reason I love this tune, which is a cover of a Speedy J early 90s classic (also covered by Sirrow in 2003). Is it just the pitchy slur from note 1 to note 2 that makes the difference? Is it the more modest 5:43 running time—a humble acknowledgement that "Hey, this is all I've got"? Is it that it reminds me of a chirping bird, and I was once a dedicated birdwatcher who traveled the world in search of the dipper, the Clark's nutcracker, and the formidable capercaillie? Don't know, but this is one two-note song that's fine by me.

Clea - Keep It Cool

The story of Clea would make a fine movie: doggedly determined losers of a British music TV competition form girl group of their own, release low-charting singles, lose personnel but saunter on, face more chart underperformance, and finally, years after it all began, call it quits without having achieved palpable success. Fact is, Clea had so much going for it: vocal talent, cute singers, catchy tunes, and (obviously) determination—all they lacked was the chart success vital to keeping a group alive. There are many good songs from this group, and I encourage you to just go out there and find out everything you can about them yourself. But here I will plug a non-single, a merely tossed-off bit of fluffy genius that is called "Keep It Cool."

Marco Demark - Tiny Dancer (Moto Blanco Radio Mix)

So when do you download the extended version and when do you download the radio mix? I think you download the radio mix when the song in question consists entirely of four lines yanked from an old Elton John tune sung ad nauseum on top of various fluff-house stylings. I'm not saying it's bad. Just get the radio mix.

Sia - The Girl You Lost to Cocaine (Stonebridge Vocal)

A bit of a missed opportunity; this song got two remixes from two artists (Stonebridge and Sanders Van Doorn, released on Van Doorn's own label), both of which sound nearly identical despite Stonebridge being pegged as being more "house" and Van Doorn being pegged as more "trance." In fact, it sounds suspiciously as though the two collaborated on their remixes—even the use of piano interludes is shared. Somebody's been copying off of somebody else's test!!! On top of that, each remix is about a minute or two longer than it needs to be, and worst of all, the choruses build to nowhere. Best thing happening in the tune comes from Sia herself. All that unfashionable negativity aside, this track possesses some strong elements, and with a little bit of editing I feel I've got something I'll happily DJ for at least a month or two.

Kaskade - Be Still (Album Version)

Remixes of this were floating about in 2007, but only recently did this slow pigeon figure out how good the original version of this tune is. With a heroically unorthodox opening (which would challenge most DJs) and a great melody, this is the one to get.

Ruslana - Diki tantsi (Руслана - Дикі Танці)

Before she became a Grand Theft Auto IV radio station DJ, before her stint in Ukrainian parliament, before she became Ukraine's official UNICEF representative, before she chanted pro-Orange Revolution slogans through a megaphone on Kiev's Independence Square, and before she kicked Eurovision ass in 2004 with one of the catchiest tunes ever to win that competition, Ruslana put out a pleasing, pumping dance record filled with Ukrainian ethnic music influences. This is the title track. So, one might argue that the legend of Ruslana began here.

Lucky Twice - Lucky (Extended Mix)

Anyone missing the spirit of late 90s Eurotrash will love Lucky Twice's "Lucky." This song is adorable. The "Hot Stuff" mixes are good, but they're for weenie DJs because they steamroll over all the quirkiness of the original version in favor of a more house-friendly sound. Get the original.

Moby - Disco Lies

Well! Here is the best Moby song since "Natural Blues!" Enjoy your honorary Eurotrash degree, Moby!

Soulshaker and CeCe Peniston - Shame Shame Shame (Bassmonkeys Remix)

CeCe's "Finally" went off like a nuclear bomb in the international house scene in 1991—but then what happened to our gal? Well, this track is much more than mere cash-in-on-an-old-diva-supplying-vocals-for-my- (*deep breath*) -new-but-inferior-house-tune. CeCe sounds awesome, the song is great, and the Bassmonkeys remix invites the best sorts of comparisons to such acts as Freemasons and Shapeshifters. So, hopefully it will not be just a gay nightclub phenomenon. Though it probably will! (See also: Mary Kiani.)

Filo and Peri - Anthem (John O'Callaghan Mix)

It's been kicking around for months, but I kept failing to find a spot for it on various compendiums. At last, its time has come. Frantic trance tune works in a nice half-time chorus with surprisingly effective male vocals (surprising because they stay away from the divo stuff in favor of something a bit more AOR—and they work). Superb key change adjustment—another goosebump-by-the-numbers maneuver, but hey, I'm looking at the goosebumps on my arm right now, so well done. "This is an anthem for the girl that got away." Yes, yes, we know. :'-)

Astrada - Crazy for You (Club Mix)

I had been hunting for another Astrada song for a long time and iTunes only offered this one, but it turned out this one was better, anyway, and so here we are. Another springy, happy, trashy tune. I get tears in my eyes at the three minute point of this mix, but that's just because I'm love-shy, and love-shy guys are way overly emotional about their music. That's a coded tip-of-the-hat to ex-Clea, by the way. ;-)

The compendiums:

2001 06/07
2001 08
2002 01
2002 01
2002 01/02
2002 04
2002 06
2002 09
2002 10/11
2002 12/2003 01
2003 02
2003 03/04
2003 05/06
2003 06
2003 08
2003 09
2003 10/12
2004 02/07
2004 07/09
2004 11
2004 12
2005 01/03
2005 05/09
2005 09
2005 12
2006 03
2006 06/09
2006 11/12
2007 01/03
2007 04/05
2007 06/07
2007 09/10
2008 01
2008 04/06
2008 06/07
2008 09/12
2009 02
2009 04/06
2009 08/09
2009 10/11
2010 01
2010 02/03
2010 04/07
2010 08/10
2010 11
2011 01/03
2011 04/05
2011 06
2011 09

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