It’s no secret that Moonshine Records has long been a label to look toward for cutting edge techno and electronica albums and DJ mixes. For man years now the label has prided itself on bringing the public such outstanding long-running series such as Journeys By DJ and introducing listeners to such turntablists as Keoki, Billy Nasty, DJ Duke, and a countless stream of other top notch vinyl spinners.
Now, with its new Mixed Live series, the label is hoping to bring audiences an all-new side to listening to their favorite DJs at home. Fans will be treated to actually hearing their heroes spin a live mix in front of an eager audience, allowing them to more or less become part of the show as well. It is an interesting concept, if nothing else. To take the club DJ experience and turn it into nothing less than a Live at Budokan or a Last Waltz type of record. After all, the live scene is where the DJ most often earns his living, mixing up club favorites to an eagerly awaiting crowd who in turn move and shift, creating the ever-important energy flow of the dancefloor that exists between them and the DJ.
The DJ creates the mood, sets the pace. Makes the bodies groove much more than any pre-programmed cassette featuring “Y.M.C.A.” for the zillionth time could. But Moonshine’s albums have never been about DJs playing blocks of disco and new wave classics. Instead, they have been vehicles for which electronica and dance acts can be come to be known though the spotlighted DJ who hosts the album.
On Tall Paul’s Mixed Live the venue is the re-opening of the club Giant in Los Angeles at the Park Plaza Hotel. Tall Paul is no stranger to the large crowds, having worked them over into a fever pitch at such renowned locales as God’s Kitchen, Cream, and Gatecrasher. He was also voted DJ of the year by Muzik magazine in the UK, so why not give the guy his own album? After all, Moonshine has a great record of presenting only the best DJs on their albums and Tall Paul is no exception.
But what is it like hearing a live album format of a DJ mix? Is the crowd noise too distracting? The answer to that is a resounding no. For those who have never been to an event such as the one captured here, the focus is definitely on feeling the music and moving to it. It’s certainly not a sing your head off along with the songs kind of show. And it’s not that the audience on this disc is not audible; at the beginning all you can hear is an anxious crowd waiting for things to happen. And certainly, when Tall Paul drops the needle on that first crucial record (Maura Picotto’s “Like This Like That”), there are a few peals of vocal excitement, but very soon the show becomes all about the beat and the audience locks in for its ride.
And Tall Paul certainly deserves his spotlight on the album. Beyond just a seamless mixer, he has a great knack for creating a well-programmed show. He slips away from “Like This Like That” into the steadily-pulsing beats of Sputnik One’s “Stylus Trouble” and Ta Ta Box Inhibitors’ “Plasmids” before shifting gears and driving the crowd down a deep house path with “The Virus” by Mutiny UK. And if you’re one to enjoy this kind of album, then you’ll be aware of how well Tall Paul has entranced his audience because you’ll be caught up in the good groove as well, as these are all top notch cuts.
And Tall Paul’s greatest asset might be his choice in records to spin. Not one to pick things that rely on one monotonous groove or let a track play too long and wear out its welcome, he has that tongue in cheek way of whipping up the crowd into a deeper groove by playing such great platters as David James’ “(Always) A Permanent State” which asks the question “Are you having fun?” The audience naturally responds with cheers as the beat bounces along before settling into the determined pump of the bongo-based “Big Red Whoosh” by Durango 95, setting up an effective percussive throb that melts into the primal pound and old school synth treatments of Afrika Bambaataa’s “Funky Heroes”.
After that comes the wonderfully lush and heavy trance of Three Drives’ “Sunset On Ibiza” and the hypnotic beauty of Accadia’s “In the Dawn”. Again, Tall Paul’s programming is impeccable, as he tends to shift his show every two songs and keeps a definite feeling flowing through the crowd before taking them off into another direction. After these two lush cuts, he introduces his own funky “Precious Heart” and Push’s “The Legacy” before swirling headlong into Sunscreem Vs. Push’s “Please Save Me”.
For the final stretch, Tall Paul tosses out the chunky one-two groove of “God’s Love” by Tall Tin Box and Steve Lee’s breakbeat infested “Bumper” before pushing the crowd into one last ecstatic rush with Big Fat’s old school-like “Discogogofiesta” and Goodfellows’ “Soul Heaven”. It’s a fine end to a terrific show, and one can detect the crowd going home happy after being treated to such a well-paced program.
Not only is Mixed Live by Tall Paul a great disc for fans of DJ albums, but it’s also a terrific introduction to the club experience by those who may have never gone out to roam the dance floors. Don’t let the fact that most of these tracks are probably unfamiliar. Just because this isn’t another Now That’s What I Call Music volume doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy it. The beauty of these albums is that they aren’t reliant on chart topping dance tunes and will undoubtedly get more than one listener interested in a whole array of artists and music that they may not have been aware of prior to that. This album is extremely accessible, catchy, and a lot of fun to both dance and listen to. Moonshine has chalked up another winning album formula with its Mixed Live series. Which frontier the label explores next is anybody’s guess.