Here comes another celebrity from years past reincarnated as a DJ. I’m personally waiting for our dear ex-president to resurface as the acid jazz-spinning DJ Bubba C, but I guess our boy from Culture Club will have to do for now. Mr. O’Dowd is quite the hot waxmeister over in Europe, and Essential Mix is his first major release as a superstar DJ. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from the diva — cheesy, danceable and largely forgettable.
Essential Mix starts quite promisingly with Boogie Macs’ “Girl From Ipanema”, a funky number that fits right in with the work George does for fashion shows. I can picture those calorie-starved beauties strutting about in thousand-dollar strips of cloth every time I hear the song. A great start to the album, sarcasm aside. Unfortunately, this is probably the most memorable song, and it leads into Aldo Vanucci’s dreadful “I Warned You Baby”. Apparently, Alvin and the Chipmunks-style vocals are quite hip with the Euro-crowd these days. The remainder of the mix’s first half is comprised mainly of UK Garage, that oh-so-fluffy dance muzak that’s become all the rage on the other side of the pond. Say what you will of Boy George, he certainly knows how to keep in step with the current trends. Thankfully, with the exception of Baby D vs. Trick or Treat’s “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” (a song with lyrics that become increasingly more idiotic with each listen, and that aren’t particularly intelligent the first time around), the two-step selections focus on reggae vocals, rather than the agonizing R&B stylings of a Craig David type. And though it pains my inner music snob to admit it, Suburban Lick’s “Here Comes the Lick Again” is an undeniably fun song with its spooky-silly reggae beats.
As insubstantial as the two-step selections may be, they are at least fun, dance-friendly tracks that will keep you nodding your head. After Kinky Roland’s discoed-out “Born Funky”, the latter half of the album sinks into a series of unremarkable and virtually indistinguishable house and trance selections. With the exception of the BT-ish trance number “Spread the Light” by The Colein, and Amanda Ghost’s “Filthy Mind”, the songs leave nary an impression in one’s mind. You might not even by paying attention by the time Essential closes with Wave’s “The Second Coming”.
Now, this is a serviceable dance mix, but it hardly qualifies as “essential”. And come to think of it, I’m not even sure it qualifies as a “mix”. The songs don’t exactly bleed together: it sounds more like one record slapped on after the other. To call it the Boy George Inconsequential Collage of Songs might be cruel, but certainly more accurate. I have no doubt that George is a charismatic club presence, and that he plays fun stuff, but his selections and questionable mixing skills hardly make for an interesting CD. If the fact that “it’s Boy George!” compels you, by all means try to catch him live on a club tour. But with the exception of those who really have a thing for questionably talented cross-dressers, Essential Mix isn’t going to be an essential part of anyone’s home collection.