To the younger generation, sparkly-toothed Goldie is best-known as the James Bond baddie in The World Is Not Enough, the first contestant to be booted off both Celebrity Big Brother 2 and Strictly Come Dancing and most recently, an unlikely comrade of Prince Harry after the pair worked together on a nationwide search for young musical talent.
To the drum ‘n’ bass heads of the 90s though, he will always be regarded as the man who brought the fusion of blistering breakbeats and booming bass-lines kicking and screaming from the underground into the mainstream. Perhaps keen to readdress the balance, the versatile DJ/producer now releases his first ever retrospective 20 years into his career, The Alchemist: Best Of 1992-2012.
Clocking in at over four hours, you’d expect the 3-CD collection to contain pretty much everything you need to know. The thrilling early rave-inspired singles released under the pseudonyms Rufige Kru (“Darkrider”) and Metalheadz (“Terminator”) are here, as are collaborations with some of Goldie’s equally celebrated peers 4 Hero (“In My Soul (Internal Affairs)”) and Roni Size (a remix of “The Calling”).
Elsewhere, a haunting and slightly disorientating remix of ex-girlfriend Bjork’s “Isobel,” a menacing industrial take on Bush’s “Swallowed”, and a ‘Completely Trashed’ reworking of Garbage’s “Milk” (which does exactly what it says on the tin), prove that Goldie was just as inventive remixing other artists’ work. (Although the less said about the appearance of painfully dull singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House” the better.)
The only new track, “Single Petal Of A Rose,” a gorgeously soulful take on the Duke Ellington classic which recalls Goldie’s earlier work with Diane Charlemagne, also shows that despite his fondness for reality TV, his best days aren’t fully behind him yet.
But bizarrely, considering the wealth of material on offer, The Alchemist is more notable for what isn’t included than what is. “Inner City Life,” arguably the most important drum ‘n’ bass single of all time, only appears in a disappointingly flat jazz-soul Baby Boy’s Edit. The Grooverider remix of “Temper Temper” virtually abandons all traces of Noel Gallagher’s original squalling psychedelic riffs. And the jungle/hip-hop collision of KRS One-fronted “Digital” is instead represented by a pedestrian four-to-the-floor overhaul courtesy of Armand Van Helden.
With such an arbitrary track-list, it sometimes feels that Goldie has missed an opportunity to showcase his talents in the best possible light. But despite the absence of his few hits, The Alchemist still contains enough moments of inspiration to remind everyone just how pioneering his drum ‘n’ bass sound was.
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