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Issue 1088

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Review

Mix & Dorp: Blues + Beat (Black & Tan Records)

Mix & Drop: Blues + Beat (Black & Tan Records)

10

6.0

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UK release date 04.04.2011

We get floods of CDs, books, DVDs and stuff to consider for review at Blues & Soul towers. It is impossible to listen to everything as soon as it hits the letterbox, so sometimes we get a backlog. Sometimes stuff gets “mislaid,” and turns up a while later. As is likely the case with this album, from Dutch remixer, producer, blues guitarist and record label owner Jan Mittendorp. Under the guise of Mix & Dorp.

So, if it is a mature release, is it worth bothering with? In this case, oh yes, yes, yes. Thrice yes. A real find. I thank my editor Lee for including this one in the “box of dreams” he sent me, when he bundled up a stack of albums for me to go through to consider for review.

Described as a collection of remixes, reinventions and rejuvenation, the album takes the vocals of five blues artists who record for the label, and hand them over to Jan who works his magic on them - adding beats, loops and modern day hokus pocus to create an outstanding end result.

It does what it says on the tin, well, in the title of the album. Blues & beats. And someâ€Â¦. We hear Boo Boo Davis, Big George Jackson, Billy Jones, Roscoe Chenier and Harrison Kennedy. Jan is subtle with what he does, leaving the foundations and structure of the blues in tact as the main building, and just adding new windows.

He can also raise the structure to the ground and completely rebuild. But his clear love of the blues and respect for those who practice it, is evident throughout. It’s not just a hatchet job where the sounds the studio bods dig out of their fancy gear, are more important than the music they are “borrowing.” This approach adds great value to the original vocals.

Some of it puts me in mind of Alabama Three, Fat Boy Slim’s work and Otis Taylor’s eccentricity. Moby’s “Play, where he sampled older blues, Norman Cooke’s use of gospel and the experimental aspect of Little Axe, aka Skip McDonald. But mostly it is innovative and unique, and the production faultless.
Some strong material here, and some powerful soulful, blues vocals. Bo Boo Davis in particular. Gonna take another look at that man in the future.

It has hypnotic qualities. It nails the groove and stays with it, instead of messing about with the BPM. Brings the blues into the 21st century in style, and without any offence. The purists while shouting and screaming, may wish to bear this in mindâ€Â¦.who is gonna support the blues when they are dead and buried? The average age of a punter at a blues gig today is 50+. The averge age of a blues fan buying blues records is 50+. The average age of a blues musician is 50+.

So this way, the clubbers and those disciples of the iPod and X Box age are being introduced to a music genre they may not come into contact with, any other way. Got to be good news, right?
They get turned on by the beats and hip-ness, and that stimulates them enough to check out the source of the vocals and musical genre. I.e. it keeps blues alive and healthy. Keeps it moving on. Inspires younger artists to play the blues too. To get it into mainstream circles.

This project could easily have gone badly wrong, and been yet another excuse to show how clever someone can be with plug-ins, samples and studio technology. The music an after-thought. Not here. Great work Jan. Intrigued to hear what he is going to tackle next.

What’s the Dutch for shit hot mate?
Words SIMON REDLEY

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