Renegade Soundwave

RSW 1987-1995

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A two-disc compilation that's as good a starting point for the newcomer as any, RSW 1987-1995 makes a great case for Renegade Soundwave as the great lost English band of the late '80s and early '90s. Divided up between a vocal and instrumental (mostly) half, each disc is more or less chronological and succeeds on its own, and together they're nearly unstoppable. Curious to say, but compared to, say, a fair amount of the Brit-pop hype that burst the year the compilation finishes up, Renegade Soundwave were at once very specifically English -- Gary Asquith's declamatory speak-sing-MC work never hid its accent for a start -- and very modern as well. Hip-hop and dub were turned into massive industrial beats and stomps like few others could attempt ("Kray Twins" alone easily rivals and possibly betters a fair amount of mid-'80s Def Jam explosions), avoiding the forced modernism of the likes of the Age of Chance for something more cutting and fierce. Besides the basic hits per se -- "Kray Twins," "Biting My Nails," "Women Respond to Bass," "Thunder," "Probably a Robbery" -- there are B-sides and rare and new remixes for the hardcore fan who has all four albums (counting The Next Chapter of Dub). Two separate mixes of "Cocaine Sex" turn up (the "Turbo Lust Mix" is indeed quite lewd), along with a fantastic revamp of "Biting My Nails" from 1990 and one of Leftfield's best-ever efforts: a loping, snarling crawl through "Renegade Soundwave." The further inclusion of such unfairly less well-known tracks as "The Phantom," an absolute stormer that seems to have barely aged any, and the John Williams-sampling "Deadly" is even more of a reason to listen.

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