Anyone who has seen Jurassic 5 in concert could attest to the astounding turntable tricks its pair of wizardly DJs are able to perform, seemingly defying the limits of the instrument with each cut and cross-fade. Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark are, literally, two of the greatest virtuosos that the sampler, mixing board, and turntables have ever met, and their skills are as genre-defining on their instruments of choice as Jimi Hendrix was on his. If Live at the Variety Arts Center, 1997 doesn't quite give you the full breadth of the duo's abilities, and if all the excitement of their live performances doesn't quite make the transfer onto tape, the album does capture their encyclopedic knowledge of classic rap and rare funk and soul vinyl and their mind-blowing versatility on the decks. It is a fascinating set; yet, frankly, it is hard to imagine returning to the CD frequently as pleasure listening, and it is a peg or two below the brilliance of Chemist's mix collaborations with DJ Shadow, Brainfreeze and Product Placement. On the other hand, you get to hear the duo mine, manipulate, and make-over classic tracks from Organized Konfusion and Main Source back to Slick Rick and Eric B. & Rakim back to Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" back to the aforementioned vintage funk and soul, the last of which is used to splice together amazing re-creations of "Jayou" and "Lesson 6" from the Jurassic 5 EP. And for good measure, the DJs maliciously dice up the synthesizer theme to the camp television anti-classic Knight Rider. Surely that is worth the price of purchase alone, no?
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart