Alongside Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk, and Armin Van Buuren, Boston dance supremo Armand Van Helden is one of the few superstar DJs to have recorded enough original material to justify a greatest-hits album. You Don't Know Me: The Best of Armand Van Helden, named after his 1999 U.K. number one, is in fact one of several compilations to have been released during his 20-year career, but is undoubtedly the most comprehensive, featuring tracks from his six studio LPs, from 1994's Old School Junkies: The Album to 2007's Ghettoblaster. Debut single "Witch Doktor," an old-school slice of minimal techno which doesn't really translate outside the warehouse rave scene it was obviously created for, suggested that chart success wasn't exactly at the top of his agenda. However, minor hits "The Funk Phenomena" and "Ultrafunkula" which cleverly fused house, filtered disco, hip-hop, and unsurprisingly, funk, spawned his signature sound, and revealed he was capable of producing commercial dancefloor tracks just as convincingly as hardcore underground anthems. All his ten U.K. Top 40 singles are included here, from the robotic electro of the Gary Numan-sampling "Koochy," to his affectionate homage to '90s club classics, "I Want Your Soul," to the gospel-fused Ibiza favorite "My My My." But the lesser-known material, such as the infectious hip-house collaboration with U.S. rapper Common, "Full Moon," and the playful '80s breakbeat pastiche "Touch Your Toes," offer just as much invention. Of course, two years before "You Don't Know Me," Van Helden was responsible for another number one hit with his imaginative transformation of Tori Amos' "Professional Widow" becoming one of the iconic dance tracks of the '90s. The atmospheric, bass-driven house number, unrecognizable from the angsty experimental piano-rock of the original, is also featured on a bonus edition, with nine other of his most famous remixes, including his dark garage treatment of Sneaker Pimps' "Spin Spin Sugar," and his fuzzy synth-led reworking of Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback," all of which prove he is as adept at adapting other people's work as he is at composing his own.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien