Boozoo Bajou: Juke Joint II

“A Selection of Excellent Music Compiled By Boozo Bajou”—so the disc label purports and it's not an inaccurate claim. The Nuremberg-based producers' second Juke Joint isn't a mix of fluid transitions but more a grab-bag of tunes similar to a late-night DJ radio set. If blues and dub coloured the first installment, a laid-back soul vibe dominates here but one of a global nature, with Peter Heider and Florian Seyberth drawing tracks from Vienna, Finland, Ethiopia, Berlin, Jamaica, and New Orleans.

Blues, gospel, and soul converge in “Hurry On Now” by Alice Russel featuring TM Juke while rootsy dub stylings come from El Michels Affair's “Hung Up On My Baby” and Light Of Saba's “Lambs Bread Collie.” Juke Joint II takes inspiration from the ‘70s on a number of songs: it's impossible not to hear similarities between the Van Morrison of 1977's Mac Rebennack-produced A Period of Transition and (what I would presume to be) Art Neville's lead vocal in The Meters' “Heartache,” and the strings in Josh Rouse's lush “Comeback” revive memories of Gamble & Huff's Philly soul. In addition to remixing a couple of songs, Boozoo Bajou contributes two originals, with “Back Up,” a bass-driven hip-hop joint featuring Stones Throw MC Oh No the better of the two. Downtempo beauties abound, like Urbs & Cutex's lightly grooving “The Thing,” Hanne Hukkelberg's entrancing lullaby “Cast Anchor,” and the warm Lovers Rock of John Holt's “For The Love Of You.”

Props to Boozoo Bajou for taking the compilation road less traveled but, for all that, a less stylistically cohesive collection would be hard to imagine; one imagines it's likely the first time Rechenzentrum's “Tiefenschärfe,” for example, has shared disc space with Dennis Bovell's Wailers-styled work song “Rowing” and the sweetly funky soul of Mark Rae's “Medicine.” Hard to quarrel, though, with the tunes themselves no matter how unusual a group they constitute.

August 2006