Learning to manage expectations is a key lesson in life. Setting them constantly too high will only lead to disappointment after disappointment. Having low expectations can often give unanticipated surprises.
This 'new' album from Roots Manuva Vs Wrongtom should be approached with low expectations. Roots Manuva is easily the most creative and diverse rapper these shores have ever produced, but little of the input on this album is new. He has given the keys to his back catalogue to Wrongtom, a remixer and DJ whose only claim to fame is being Hard Fi's official warm up DJ and remixer.
Roots Manuva is an artist who has never shied away from a collaboration, and the work he produced with the Cinematic Orchestra and Gorillaz easily sits along side his solo material. This unlikely collaboration came about when Wrongtom remixed Roots' best known track 'Witness (1 Hope)'. Impressed with the Dancefloor/Dub results Wrongtom was invited to remix selected tracks from Roots Manuva's past three albums.
With expectations lowered the results are pretty good. Despite his landfill indie associations Wrongtom does know his Dancefloor, and uses it to strong effects on Roots' back catalogue. Reworks of 'Buff Nuff' and 'Motion 5000', stand up on their own right thanks to the speaker warbling sub bass Wrongtom utilises.
Much of the enjoyment from listening to this album comes from placing the lyrics back to their original source. The song titles give a few clues, but the tracks have been completely reworked giving them a new lease of life, so lyrics is really the only factor that remains.
The strongest rework on the album is 'Chin Up', a revisit of 'Hol' It Up' from Run Come Save Me. Cheeky one chord reggae guitars get lowered in the mix, leaving a walking, roaming bass to do the leg work. The results are incredibly dance friendly, and when the familiar chorus lyrics kick in it causes an involuntary shoulder shuffle. "Better than the original" is a line rarely used in remix reviews, but slides in easily here.
The album's stand out track is unsurprisingly the only purely original one. 'Jah Warriors' sounds as fresh and inventive as anything Roots' has put his name to, the only down side being the longing for a purely original album in this particular style.
This album can only really be recommended to the Roots Manuva aficionado. New comers would do better to get hold of a copy of Roots' second album Run Come Save Me.