For those lucky few able to tune it in or dig up the session CD-R's passed from fan to fan, Coldcut and DJ Food's Solid Steel program has been, bar none, the leading light of the turntablist underground since its 1988 inception. As freewheeling as American crews like Invisibl Skratch Piklz or Beat Junkies but able to cast a much wider net over the font of musical knowledge on record, the Ninja Tune collective have blown up London's airwaves -- first on the pirate station Kiss-FM and later on BBC -- with mix after invincible mix of the broadest beats in the world. Finally, in 2001, Ninja Tune inaugurated a (hopefully long) series of Solid Steel mixes with Now, Listen!, the results of a 60-minutes-of-madness session featuring DJ Food (aka PC and Strictly Kev) plus DK. Though it wasn't recorded entirely live, the results are far too thrilling to bother quibbling over technicalities. The musical mind-melds include ska-revivalists the Beat over an early Roni Size production, the Commodores' "Assembly Line" mixed up with educational records, a Mr. Scruff track over a Motion Man rap, and Cut Chemist's ironically Coldcut-referencing "2.5 Minute Workout" of Blackalicious' "Alphabet Aerobics," plus snippets of everyone from Ray Bradbury to Herbie Hancock to Perrey-Kingsley to Man from U.N.K.L.E. star David McCallum to Innerzone Orchestra to Four Tet to David Shire's score to the 1974 heist film The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three. No surprise -- it's also one of the best-paced mixes heard on an official release since Coldcut & PC's 70 Minutes of Madness tape from 1996. Showcasing the best in dance and groove no matter which historical or musical boundaries they obliterate in the process, Now, Listen! is one of the best mix albums released to date.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John Bush