It's important to have affirmations. For me, this includes buying things I know I hate but can't remember why, such as Shamrock Shakes, new episodes of "Scrubs" and remix albums from bands I love; all three taste like failure mixed with mint and green dye. "I haven't had this in five years," I'll think, "I wonder why?" That encroaching my-heart-is-turning-to-mush sensation is why.
Boston's Big D and the Kids Table, arguably the best ska band out there today, meanders every so often on their path towards horntastic righteousness. In between great ska-punk records like Good Luck and Strictly Rude, the group has released more experimental material that ranges from the truly horrific (the ill-advised rap album Porch Life) to the just OK (the Halloween-ish Salem Girls EP). Their latest project is Strictly Mixed and Mashed, a remix album by DJ BC.
BC's credits include the Beastles, a Beastie Boys / Beatles mash-up that was actually kind of fun, even though the mere thought of its existence probably gives some folks night terrors. Over the course of 20 tracks, BC attempts to bring new dimensions to the D's back catalogue. Working mostly with material from last year's Strictly Rude, he does a decent job -- it's certainly one of the better remix albums I've ever heard, although it does get boring after a while. Besides, it's still a remix album, so while some of these re-imaginings are neat, I'd still rather spin the original tunes.
That said, album opener "Dave's Shiny New Rap" won a Boston Music Award, and it's easy to see why -- it's fun, clam flammit. BC tends to work in extremes here; his remixes are either too faithful to the D's original reggae vibe or too techno-y. But on "Dave's Shiny New Rap," he finds a middle ground, preserving the soulful horn section while adding a more propulsive beat.
Other remixes get by on comedic value. Hearing the anti-bro anthem-cum-remix "Dem Kids Suck" is funny, although BC gives it a cool electronic groove. Surprise guest star and former president John F. Kennedy shows up on "Try Out Your JFK Voice," and his samples enhance the political call to arms frontman David McWane spits. Wayne & Wax rhymes over "Oo Yah Dood" and "Big Snake Bite," and he manages to carve his own hooks into the piece. His critiques of mainstream hip-hop are alternately humorous, insightful and catchy.
The same cannot be said for Rashorne Foster, who guests on "Salem Rastafari." While the track isn't reggaeton per say, it's about as dumb. Rhyming "rastafari" with "rastafari" 40 times does not a rap make.
The glut of tracks saps BC's creativity in spots as well. The chilled out reggae groove of "Strictly Rude" doesn't translate well, even though BC tries to maintain the original flow. Drenching McWane's angry spit take of a vocal on "LAX RMX" in echo and techno kill the feeling altogether. The a capella "LAX" cut at the end of the disc is a total throwaway track. "I'm Yrs Bawstin!!!1One!" constantly fluctuates between being humorous and annoying.
Strictly Mixed and Mashed isn't without some gems, but the songs blend together after a while. As a D fan I'm glad I own it, but, like any other remix album, it doesn't top the source material.