by Rachel Brame –
DJ Andy Smith is a true artist’s artist by means of his immense eclecticism and spinning style. Also known as Portishead’s touring DJ, Andy was introduced to international audiences with a shout out from Geoff Barrow in the linear notes of their album Dummy. Beginning in the late 90’s, The Document series kicked off with volume 1, and followed up with two more fantastic compilations in the preceding years. If you ever get a chance to see him play vintage tunes live at any event or his regular Friday Fish Fry at Joes Bar in Camden Town (78-79 Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AR, United Kingdom) GO FOR IT!!
Released in 1998 on Phase 4 Stereo in Europe and Go! Beat Records in the U.S.; The Document provides over 41 minutes and 15 tracks of seamlessly blended groovy ear candy. Not every DJ employs the same techniques, so let me try and explain how this one is different. Songs Andy Smith chooses to spin for us are not twisted or manipulated, instead they are allowed to play on for minutes at a time, like a polished mixtape, smoothly transitioning from one musical era into another. The span of four decades worth of music bounce around elastically on this album. The Document is a fantastic tapestry of high energy songs with its true magic lying in how well their sequence is sewn together. The countless hours utilized pouring over bin after bin finding familiar, forgotten, and obscure tracks is evident and on full display in this masterful compilation.
The only previously unreleased track in the lineup is a brief opener “G.B. Beats” that is reportedly a demo which never ended up on any Portishead album. The album’s mood begins with a heavy dose of classic Jungle Brothers hip-hop. After a little while before you know it, you realize the music changes genres flawlessly shifting to classic funk, to rock, soul, 60’s pop, and then flipping back to hip hop again. You first notice a distinct change when Jeru the Demaja fades into The Meters funktastic “Cissy Strutt” and transforms into The James Gang’s crunching guitars on “Funk #49” and then drops into Barry White. Another highlight of wonderfully juxtaposed music is when Marvin Gaye’s “T Plays it Cool” breaks into Tome Jones power ballad “Looking Out My Window” which slides right into Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, then shatters all expectations with a deep throwback from Peggy Lee covering Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”. The Document maintains a perpetual groove throughout its duration, and does not close without a bang! The Spencer Davis Group blasts their classic 70’s hit “I’m A Man” which moves harmoniously into the last track, its coda if you will, the familiar reprise of Barry White’s “Can’t Seem to Find Him”. The secret’s out everybody! This album is the off the hook!!!!
DJ Andy Smith presents: The Document I Track listing: 1/ G.B. Beats – Geoff Barrow 2/ How Ya Want It - Jungle Brothers 3/ Come Clean - Jeru The Damaja 4/ Cissy Strutt - Meters 5/ Funk #49 - James Gang 6/ Can't Seem To Find Him - Barry White 7/ Stop Ya Skemes - Jeep Beat Collective 8/ T Plays It Cool - Marvin Gaye 9/ Looking Out My Window - Tom Jones 10/ Deaf Mick's Throwdown - Clockwork Voodoo Freaks 11/ The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five 12/ Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay - Peggy Lee 13/ Movement - SL Troopers 14/ I'm A Man - Spencer Davis Group 15/ Can't Seem To Find Him (Reprise) - Barry White