Back to Mine

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Predictably unpredictable and unnerving as all get-out to sit through, Tricky's contribution to the Back to Mine series still manages to be an absorbing listen, despite all of the slammed-together transitions and wild stylistic jumps from track to track. Tricky's picks continually flit from old favorites of his to new discoveries and projects -- several of which are given their first official airings. The disc begins as solidly and smartly as any other edition of Back to Mine, with smooth transitions within the first four disparate tracks. The Cure's eerie, string-laden "Lullaby" is successfully blended into the queasy sway of Radanna's "How We Wide," a street-oriented downtempo/gangsta hybrid featuring the compiler on the mike. This abruptly shifts into Eric B. & Rakim's "My Melody," which carries the melody from its predecessor for nearly two minutes. From there, the disc derails and gets back on track a number of times. Unsurprising appearances from Kate Bush ("Eat the Music"), Buzzcocks ("You Tear Me Up"), and Chet Baker ("My Funny Valentine") are broken up with more of Tricky's own projects and interests, including a pair of tracks from artists (Kat Cross, Costanza) who are at least partly molded in his image. After the initial third of the disc, there's little sense of continuity; the odds are pretty good that you'll have to make sure at least once that you haven't accidentally hit the shuffle button. (This has been a constant issue with the Back to Mine series; ideal batches of songs are put together without considering whether or not they'll work well together.) Even more perplexing are the observations made in the liner notes. Some of the things listeners learn: Tricky had sex with a half-Jamaican/half-Spanish girl to Gregory Isaacs' "Night Nurse"; you can't hear Kate Bush's parents in her voice; the Streets' Mike Skinner samples "crap"; "Maxwell is as soulful as a plate of fish and chips."

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