Dope Smugglaz

Dope Radio

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Never let it be said that '70s cop shows didn't have a fundamental place in the evolution of novelty records. Leeds duo Dope Smugglaz side step the usual pasty-faced disco house influences of their time and instead keep their channel firmly on what sounds like a big-lapel, ring-encrusted episode of The Streets of San Francisco. Maybe they were 30 years too late. From pulsating, groovy electro thumps to sprinkled big beat humor, the recurring feeling is that something is terribly wrong. Right from the start, with the tastelessly chiseled and bouncy "Mi Glad You Like It (Now Step)," Dope Smugglaz wind off into a mess of predictably constructed grooves. Even the elated collaborations with drug icon Howard Marks or the Happy Mondays' Shaun Ryder can't prevent the album's limp impetus from wearing thin. The band is sometimes helped with great slashes of acid house synths ("88-89 Rip," "One for Laydeez") and the superb, flanging, two-step big beat gospel monster that is the "Double Double Dutch" single -- yet the album sounds mostly like a band turning up only to tune up. If only they went one step further. While mixing doses of nostalgia can prove eventful, Dope Radio is merely a syncopated fix. They should've known that one can only listen to a theoretical episode of Starsky and Hutch being invaded by Cylons for so long.

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