PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Spank Rock: Fabriclive 33

Matthew Fiander

Spank Rock curate the latest mix in the Fabriclive series, and manage to make Yes and Kurtis Blow good bedfellows, while also tapping hard-hitters like DFA and Daft Punk to anchor this strong compilation.

Spank Rock

Fabriclive 33

Label: Fabric London
US Release Date: 2007-04-24
UK Release Date: 2007-04-16

It’s hard not to know who Spank Rock is these days. The Two-DJ and MC hip-hop trio responsible for the brilliant YoYoYoYoYo have officially blown up. And, aside from appearances on late night television and countless magazine articles, their newfound notoriety has afforded them the opportunity to curate the latest mix in the Fabriclive series released by Fabric Nightclub in London. MC Spank Rock takes a backseat here, as DJ Ronnie Darko and producer Alex Upton put together a mix consisting of an often fragmented 29 tracks.

The results are pretty great on the whole. The continuous mix is always exciting, always danceable, and always fresh. We get started with Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” and it sets the scene for a mix informed by early hip-hop, but not bogged down by it. Using Blow and others from the hip-hop game as a base, the Spank Rock crew bounce around from electronica to drums and bass to newer hip-hop to old school R&B to disco and back again through them all. One can easily picture a dance floor of people shaking it hard to this mix, unwilling to stop because, well, Fabriclive 33 doesn’t give you a chance to stop. Spank Rock is aware of how difficult it is to cultivate a dance mix this long and make it continuously engaging, and you can feel their hard work here.

There are inclusions in the mix that may evoke surprise or even controversy in the dance sect. Songs like Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, the Contours’ “Do You Love Me”, and the Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep” are peppered throughout. On first listen, these could be seen as shock picks, included to trip up the listener/dancer and maybe add an element of irony to the mix. But a second listen, or a really keen ear, shows a different purpose for such inclusions. Spank Rock are eager, it seems, to celebrate a wide-swath of music, and not be contained by the conventions of modern dance music. The shift into these more “retro” segments of the mix aren’t jarring at all, and in fact make for some of the best bits here. There isn’t any irony in including Yes; it just seems like the best fit for its space on the record.

All that being said, the standouts on Fabriclive 33 are pretty obvious. It might be surprising that Yes and the Romantics fare so well here, but it would seem hard to include them if Spank Rock hadn’t put the time in to mix them the way they did. After those, contributions from Daft Punk, Mylo, Hot Chip, and Tangerine Dream unsurprisingly shine. A remix of Metro Area’s “Orange Alert” by DFA, and Spank Rock’s own remix of CSS’ “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” (a solid, understated improvement on the original) make for arguably the two best song on the whole album. All these typical hard-hitters eventually weigh the mix down a little, as the listener finds themselves waiting for the next DFA or Hot Chip or Mylo track. So, if the mix is meant to not only make you dance, but open you up to new dance and hip hop acts, it may fall short in that respect.

Fabriclive 33 is also not an album that really opens up questions and challenges assumptions about dance music. Or, rather, it does, but much in the same way acts like Girl Talk and Herbert and any good remix do. But to make that leap might be taking this mix too seriously. Give Spank Rock credit for giving us a whole chunk of brilliant ass-shake here. The execution is strong, and questions of innovation shouldn’t stand in the way of enjoying this record. If there is a point of interest in this record, it is how many different types of music inform Spank Rock’s own work. Something here -- though it may be tough to pinpoint exact moments -- lends some insight into Spank Rock’s brand of mad-scientist, mathematical hip hop. They show their influences to be many and varied and that is what, in the end, makes their music so rewarding. The same is true of this mix, so if you’ve got a house party coming up, pick up Fabriclive 33 and when you can’t bump The Sound of Silver or Night Ripper anymore, pop this in and watch the party keep on rocking, hard as ever.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.