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LABEL: Club Tools RELEASE DATE: March 28, 1996 GENRE: Happy Hardcore, Hard Dance
// review by SoyBomb

When dance music was faster than cars.

Scooter was living high off those Hyper Hyper dollars in 1996. All of their singles were chart toppers, and there was clearly no intention to stop the Scooter train. With no delay, a brand new album, with brand new hits, slid into public view in early 1996, to (dare I say) "rave" reviews. This was their happy hardcore.

We start off with Let Me Be Your Valentine, entering with shouts from the crowd and someone playing a chunk of Amazing Grace via bagpipes for some odd reason. But the crowd goes wild when the first acid attack hits the airwaves. It's high energy and will cause long-dormant limbs to move with its happy hardcore style. And then... one of the most shrill sounds ever to come out of Scooter. It doesn't bother me like it did, say, fifteen years ago, but the sound of a choking peacock stuffed into a Yamaha doesn't inspire confidence in the rest of the song. Frontman H.P. Baxxter also brings the hype with various M.C. shouts, including the titular "let me be your valentine", as though he is desperate for a date. This ended up being one of the album's singles, hitting #14 on their homeland — Germany's — singles charts in 1996. The C-part of this song, containing a rather hoppy synth trip, was the basis for the very wicked B-Side, "Eternity", which is definitely worth hearing.

Next up is Stuttgart, where band member Rick J. Jordan was able to show off his piano chops, featured with fine arpeggio style. Later in the song, some very light but far more improvisational piano playing takes its course and fits very well with the more euphoric theme of the song. But this instrumental also works well off the pumping bassline and the more cosmic pads that lay in the background. Then H.P. decides to channel his inner Billy Idol with a dance cover of Rebel Yell. Surprisingly, H.P.'s voice sounds a lot like Idol's when he really tries. The fast-paced instrumentation isn't that interesting, but it's pretty much serving as backing for H.P.'s powerful voice in this one. Rebel Yell also become a single off the album.

Last Minute feels like exactly that: something done last minute. If you ever wanted to hear a happy hardcore version of Hava Nagila, this is likely the best place to do so. The concept seems cheesy, and parts of it are, but it's actually a very catchy and attractive production. Plus, it has a belch at the end! How can you go wrong? Meanwhile, the title track Our Happy Hardcore is an absolute gem and possibly the highlight of the entire album. Based around an effective piano jingle (that I swear I've heard on the national weather channel as background music whenever they present the local forecast every ten minutes), Our Happy Hardcore is a wild blend of a calming melody, rockin' farty bass, and beats gone into overdrive, plus some H.P. lyrics I sometimes can't understand. My personal favourite part comes about halfway in when Scooter introduces an extra happy beeping melody that gives me the shivers every time I listen. It's euphoria in audio form. Never skip this one!

For another wild 'n crazy drum & bass experience, try Experience. Using their unreleased remix of Datura's "Angeli Domini" as the base of this track, this one has more renegade snare hits than I thought imaginable, plus a fairly catchy if unoriginal main melody in its chorus. Definitely not a song you could fall asleep to, Experience is worth a listen, as it's probably the most chaotic tune here. This Is A Monstertune, contrary to its name, is NOT a monster tune. It's not scary at all. They lied to me. But it IS an interesting song, divided into two parts: a straightforward fast-paced dance tune and a more melancholy with cosmic, almost retro arpeggiation sounding far more introspective. Both work well to contrast each other, but it's the spacey elements that are notable, while the other aspects are simply there and don't feel particularly inspired.

I have to admit, I've never been a big fan of Back To The UK, as indicated by my previous review of the single version. Pulling a melody from the British series "Miss Marple", this one may be a fun listen for the kids with its whimsy, but it just has a cornball feel far beyond the rest of the album. Thank goodness it has some chipper piano work in it to offset the Marpling.

Hysteria is another track of note. Let me make sure I have this right: Hysteria is a cover of "Hysteria (There's No Reason To Be Disturbed)" by Hysteria. Hysteria is a cover of Hysteria's Hysteria. Hysteria's Hysteria was a slower techno rave track from 1992, whereas Scooter's Hysteria is much faster, though most of the elements are the same (Scooter's instrumentation is a bit updated). And both pull their main hooks from the opera "The Barber of Seville", circa 1816. Either way, it's still a great listen if you love a great hardcore sound. I rarely skip this one over. And for even more hardcore action, there's Crank It Up to close out the album. An absolute pounder of a track, this one is pure gabber, with bass so bangin' your roof will probably shift a little after a loud playing of this one. Television aficionados may recognize this track from Da Ali G Show when a Brüno segment begins. While not particularly varied, this one just flat out kicks butt.

It's no wonder the acronym for this album is "OHH": for fans of the genre, this is orgasm-worthy. In subsequent albums, Scooter would slow down to make the musical tastes of the time, but Our Happy Hardcore remains a great source for fast beats and party vibes. Not every track will please everyone, but there's still a good rave in this disc.

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