The Vinylshakerz... are back... to rock the entire nation! Or so they say. Once again, we have another candidate for "thief of the Benassi sound" (although I'm quite aware that Mr. Benassi didn't invent that sound anyway) and now it's just too damn common and overused. The Vinylshakerz (featuring one of the members of Master Blaster, yay) have put out a few singles so far, taking samples from old 80s songs that aren't too obscure (such as Wham's "Club Tropicana" and Murray Head's "One Night In Bangkok") and plastering them over the bassline from "Satisfaction" by Benny Benassi. Yup, just great. At least the Vinylshakerz don't chop... oh wait... YES, THEY DO. Damn, stop chopping up samples... Anyway, let's take a look at their very pretentiously-titled debut album, "Very Superior".
According to one of the producers and members of the Vinylshakerz project, no additional cover versions besides those used in singles appear on this album. I suppose I am to believe that this is true; thus, I'll go through as though no other covers are here... which is definitely a plus already. Anyway, after the purchaser of this album is finished ogling the bikini-clad ladies on the front cover (a process which could last for days), it would be wise to start at the beginning with the unusually self-titled Vinylshakerz (Back On Popular Demand). After a cool deeply-vocoded "Make some noise for the voice! The Vinylshakerz are in the club!", we are led into the commencement of a trip down Euro House lane. This song is a mixed bag, comprised of a variety of funky basslines which switch back and forth in different sections of the track; meanwhile, a standard eurodance female vocalist works her pipes singing about how they are back by popular demand and such. It's simple but actually serves as a good introduction to the disc as a whole, as it's just adequately catchy and rich to the ear without going overboard. However, the next track is NOT as good. One Night In Bangkok is the epitome of horrid dance taste these days, taking the classic 80s Murray Head tune of the same name and pulls the same formula as the Global Deejays and Royal Gigolos have used for crappy but chart-topping songs: take an old sample, play it in its entirety, then chop it up like a big onion and spread the chopped product over the Benassi-bass. It's like these songs are churned out from a factory!
Got No Reason tries to bring the album back up to par, and actually does so with another catchy house track! Another female vocal is cast over a groovy soundscape, but unfortunately the mix of unusually bouncy bass and chime synth pad do not exactly meet eye to eye, causing a crazy conflict. The end result is an audio clash of borderline shake-your-head quality. It would have been much better had they chosen a more diluted bassline during the chorus. Taking a left-hand turn at the end is Janelle, which ends up being more of a reggae house tune than anything else. And where would a reggae song be without Jamaican freestyling? Well, that's here too, alongside fake trumpet sounds that clearly come from a synthesizer. Halfway through the song, it goes into strange acoustic pop mode, but it's so filtered, it's difficult to discern what the point of adding it was, only to end up back where you started with the reggae house. I'm not a big fan of reggae house to begin with, so it's just average to me.
I pay no cash for tekkno trash. That's the motto of the next track, Tekkno Trash, and that's probably a decent title for this. There's nothing particularly special about this track, although I wouldn't go so far as to call it tekkno trash. It sounds like something I'd put together in about an hour, and that alone bashes the quality a fair bit. The following track, Tempt The Fate, wouldn't sound too out of place on an Eiffel 65 album, as the male vocalist shares a similar style to Jeffrey Jey of E65 fame. The instrumental aspect sounds like it wouldn't be too far off on the chilled portion of an ATB album. But together, they make for an average pop-style track, and nothing that creates an element of awe.
Next up is another cover, Daddy Cool, originally performed by Boney M, and sampled here! Thankfully, no Benassi-bass or chopping takes place; instead, disco strings are used to the fullest over supple house beats. This song would be great in the clubs for a short period of time, but that's pretty much it. I'm sure Boney M would approve of this dance mix, but it just falls flat after a while without much variety. It's under three minutes in duration though; perhaps the Vinylshakerz knew when it was time to give up. This song ended up being a single from the album, but it didn't perform too well...
The Funk (Disco:Disco) finally gets going after a minute of a vocoded voice saying "disco, disco..." until we arrive at a beat that bears the sound of latin house. However, this track does not reach any climax, and thus seems more like a mid-way collection of filler that is meant only to lay between two niftier tracks, and perhaps such is the case, for the next song up for our ears, @ The Weekend, is far more powerful and exciting! Female vocals are spread like Nutella over strong beats and a full bassline. Later on, an old-school synth comes in to sprinkle even more joy upon us. Neat. This definitely has the sound of house backing it up, and it works fairly well as a whole, in comparison with other songs on the album. It will get your rumps out of your seats and causing gnarly waves in no time.
The next song is Club Tropicana, a take on the song of the same name by that 80s superstar band Wham!; in fact, it samples the vocal stylings of George Michael directly! However, the Vinylshakerz have gone and used the formula that I've talked about countless times of the Benassi-bass underneath the original sample. No mutiliation of the original tune takes place this time, thankfully. Admittedly, I do like this song much more than the other songs of the same caliber and formula that have come out in the past few years. Perhaps it's the high spirits of Wham! filtering through. Yet we must leave the tropical locale of Club Tropicana and look to the midnight sky for a Shining Star. Unfortunately, we will only find a eurohouse song of the same name. Female vocals, fake guitar/brass instruments, and a thumping beat complete the ensemble in a definite shout out to eurotrance and Spanish music at the same time. It's alright; nothing particularly compelling, but not repelling either.
To be fair, this next track (Kingdom Of God) is not entirely the Vinylshakerz' doing, as the hard dance group known as '666' have taken their toll on this one. Known for old classics such as "Alarma!" and "Diablo", 666 have taken a song that I haven't heard and mixed it up! Of course, the producers behind 666 are the same ones that are behind Vinylshakerz, so... what's the difference, really? Anyway, this is a boring song whose main melody (if you can call it that) is just some squelchy sounds that are just played repeatedly without composing anything musically intriguing. There's some deep vocals in there talking about the Kingdom of God too, but that doesn't exactly add the greatest touch to the music. Skip over this.
Em-Tee? Vee uses a repeated guitar sample, while a cheesy computer voice says "I play my guitar on MTV!" Oh, bet you didn't guess that the song is about MTV based on that title alone. It's short and it's really corny. It's almost as if they had 15 minutes left for the final original track... and this is what they rushed out. It's just too cheesy for words. It's followed by the Electrolaz remix of Daddy Cool which has a more electro feel to it (based on the remixer's name, you shouldn't be too surprised). But the new stuff is not intertwined with the original material; there are clear divides between "Daddy Cool" and the work of Electrolaz. In the end, it's less of a remix and more of an addition to the original (like an addition to a house!). Finally, the Bat Looks Slippy mix of "Tempt The Fate" is a little different as well. While the first half of it sounds rather similar to the original, the remixer uses a sharp euphoric synth to give a new, more trance flavour to the vocals. Surprisingly, it's a very nice way to alter a formerly average song, and I prefer this mix to the original.
While this album does have a few sample slayers, there is much evidence that they tried to create original, high-energy music. Sometimes they succeed, other times not so much. But this is still one of the better albums from the sample-stealing revolution of electronic music artists that try to cash in on hits of the past. There's definitely some awesome bumping and grinding to be had here, as long as you select your songs wisely from this album.