Just as I mentioned in the Royal Gigolos review, tons of folks have been jumping on the bandwagon as the Benny Benassi techy bass sound has wedged its way into popular culture. And unfortunately, some have used this sound incessantly while chopping up the sounds of classic songs from way back when. Global Deejays has fallen prey to doing such a thing, and I cannot ignore such a lack of creativity. Their first two singles, "The Sound Of San Francisco" and "Flashdance", both thieving generously from songs of the past, made me very weary of their efforts. So with the release of their debut album "Network", I found myself rather concerned as to whether or not to check it out. Well, I did check it out. Did I enjoy it? Well, let's analyze this album, shall we?
Before I begin, I must note that this album plays more like a radio station than a regular album. There are several radio disc jockey announcements and even a commercial break, all of which are UNNECESSARY. Even though it looks like there are sixteen tracks on this album, such is not the case -- actually, several of the tracks are filler and that's just sad, considering that the album doesn't even cross the 46-minute mark. First is the sound of someone flipping through stations on their radio, with a variety of sound clips being interspersed amid the beloved static of the good ol'-fashioned radio. Super. Just get to the music.
And eventually we do indeed arrive at the music, but first, the announcer Rick DeLyle (spelled correctly?) on the Global Network tells us that he's "counting down the hottest hits on the planet", and that he "won't stop until we reach the top". That's the DJ-style intro to Stars On 45, a song that samples from the 1981 disco hit "Stars On 45" by the group known as "Stars On 45". Using a loud, potent, and gritty bass, Global Deejays tries to make a hands-up hit by plastering samples from the aforementioned song overtop of it as a pounding beat sends the crowd into a flailing frenzy. This is actually pretty funky (and is only interrupted once somewhere in the middle by the announcer again -- he needs to be quiet).
Rick DeLyle speaks again at the end, introducing the third track, the Clubhouse Album Mix of What A Feeling (Flashdance), which obviously samples from the classic track of the same name. This is probably the version that most listeners would prefer, as the vocal samples are kept intact without any chopping to the beat. And true to its name, it does have that clubhouse feel to it, so you can wave your hands in the sky along with the song without looking too foolish. Is it anything special though? Not really; it's just the Flashdance theme in a slightly more euro-house mode. This is followed by Lonely, which doesn't seem to have any direct link with any particularly famous song; I'm inclined to believe that it's an original song by the Global Deejays. It follows true to the Global Deejays song template: vocals laid over the "Benassi-bass" which has since been copied incessantly since the days of Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction". The vocals are average but will not cause ear splicing, and overall, this song is average as well.
After a cheesy Global deejays ID track where Rick DeLyle throws out to the next track, it's The Sound Of San Francisco, the single which put the group on the map. And this is the primary reason why I was weary about Global Deejays' album: this used the combination Benassi-style bass AND sample chopping!! Granted, they DO play a complete verse from the original 1967 song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" by Scott McKenzie, it is soon to be minced, diced, spliced, and not-niced over that cheesy Benassi-bass. Ugh. Nothing beats chopped lyrics like "...in the stree-ee-ee... ee-ee... eh-eh-ee..." Super. After hearing this song for the first time a long while back, I assumed that they were just a hack group. Well, that may not be 100% true, but this song sure would not act in their favour.
"Hey yo! Bring the funk!" That's what we hear as we delve into the next track, Mr. Funk, which also uses a similar bassline as previous tracks. The only difference with this song is the introduction of a 'funky' saxophone sample. However, the sax part is fairly monotone, and as a result, the track isn't as funky as it could be. This lack of funk is not improved with the following tune either. Shock Me uses (assumedly) original vocals that describe his experiences with a shocking girl of some sort. Yeah. A repeated old-school simplistic bassline (and the occasional faux electric guitar riff) backs up the vocals, but there doesn't seem to be any superiorly distinguishable climax, making for only a minorly interesting song, suitable more for background music at a party than anything in your aural foreground.
After another superfluous Global Deejays ID segment, we're treated to... well, not treated to... more like SUBJECTED TO... another track that follows a similar template to "Shock Me". With the annoyingly repetitive vocal sample, "Clap your hands everybody!" and the brief "Everybody just clap your hands!" to twist things up, a monotone bassline (and later a plucky synth that follows suit), and a muffled siren to round things out, this track is doomed to become a pain-in-the-ass one, even at the most lively of disco clubs. After that, the Global Network Signation is heard. Wasn't that just useless? Actually, such is not the case, as Rick DeLyle openly admits that the proceeding song was originally by Fun Fun. Fun! Happy Station is just another cookie-cutter song, utilizing the same general production pattern as "The Sound Of San Francisco" and "Flashdance": play the original sample, then chop it up frantically over a Benassi-bass. This formula should be shot in the neck.
Oh, and just what we need after that is a Commercial Break. A particularly creepy voice, speaking in a foreign language (German, perhaps?) and advertising something... but whatever it is, I'm too spooked to buy it. Next is It's the Music (Remix). I have no recollection of the original, but it matters little to me. A quaint female vocalist is used (a standard hard dance one, actually), and a sweeping industrial synth takes up a great portion of the song (which is not recommended to be heard by people with migraines, mild headaches, or...well, anyone who appreciates their own ears). But wait! This is a Global Deejays song! Where's that Benassi-bass that I praise ever so much? *waits* Ah, there it is. It just couldn't be left out. Overall, while the vocals could have bled into a genuinely decent trance or hard dance song, such a prophecy is never fulfilled.
The Progressive mix of "What A Feeling (Flashdance)" isn't too different from the other version (it still follows the Global Deejays template to a tee) and so I will forego looking at that any more than necessary. Instead, let's look at the grand finale track, Talkbox, which happens to be my favourite. I don't know exactly what it is about this track, but it actually DOES spew funk like a vomiting drunkard. Perhaps it's that really weird vocal sample they use... "CHESTNUT! A REVIEW!" Okay, that's only what it SOUNDS like, but I'm probably way off base. The Benassi-bass is indeed back, but not used in a detrimental fashion (underneath chopped songs from the 1960s). And let's not forget the bubbly synth that goes off on its own accord for a pell-mell performance. Wonderful stuff right there; if Global Deejays had sprinkled more creative stuff like this throughout their album, I'd have enjoyed it more. A goodbye from Rick DeLyle (and a recommendation to check out multimedia content) closes the album.
I'm not a blind follower of the charts, personally; I'm more than aware that just because a song reaches the top of the charts doesn't make it good by default. Global Deejays has spent a good amount of time atop the dance charts in Europe with their two big tracks, "Flashdance" and "The Sound Of San Francisco". However, these are mindless tracks built on cheesy nostalgia and the sound alone, lacking in musical substance. Since this philosophy of musical creativity is the basis on this record, much could have been improved in order to achieve a superior product. Global Deejays have a new album to be tentatively released in 2007; let's hope for better things. Start digging upwards.