|Groove Armada - Vertigo|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 22 February 2000|
There is this hotel down the street from my condo on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood that is a recently renovated convalescent home turned into a $250 a night retro-techno, 1970’s, Mork-porks-Mindy pimp palace. This place is so cool they can’t stand themselves. The lobby is loaded with the most haute retro 70’s furniture. Behind the check-in desk is a super-sized aquarium where a random aspiring super-model girl performs random tasks like taking naps, reading a book and or clipping her toe nails. At night, just to the right of the check-in area is the most bad-ass DJ on the ones and twos spinning the absolute coolest Euro tracks smoothly cut in with the highest quality soul sounds of all time. This is where I first heard Groove Armada and there may have been no more appropriate locale.
Two of London’s hottest DJs, Tom Findlay and Andy Cato, make up the backbone of this techno-soul act that is inspiring the world’s most beautiful people (including Elton John of all people) to get out on the dance floor and "shake that ass." The Groove Armada sound addresses my stereotypical complaints about techno music. While Grove Armada makes no excuses about their influences from Sly and The Family Stone to Pink Floyd to Patty Paige, they bring a hip undertone to melodies that you can actually sing along to. On their more up-beat tracks, Groove Armada adds in some catchy rap phrasings which are a bit repetitive, but make for easy to digest techno-pop dance hits.
Vertigo rolls out with "Chicago" and "Whatever, Whenever," two songs that pull influences from Orbital and Massive Attack respectively. The rap on "Whatever, Whenever" is far from gangsta and moves on a hip hop beat that is dripping with style. The best track from Vertigo is "If Everybody Looked The Same," which features a sample of "you know the fella is good for the moola" laid over what sounds to be some sort of Jackson 5 hook sampled. Interlaced in the track is a funky beat and whacked-out programming. The song has strong pop sensibility and pulls on musical elements that make will people smile and move. All the makings of a hit track.
"I See You Baby" is featured twice on the record and is the single that has started to get some radio play, as well as becoming a favorite track at West Los Angeles’ more hip gyms during spinning session and aerobics lessons. The song is based around a vocal cue of "I see you baby – shaking that ass." It is kind of repetitive but it is also very catchy. The second version of the song is re-mixed by the Fatboy Slim, a DJ from the UK who has broken through to big-time commercial success. The Fatboy version has a more jungle feel with hard hitting beats and even more vocal elements from female vocalist, Grandma Funk.
There is room for new acts like Groove Armada in a crowed new music market. They make hip, happening and fun music that appeals to the masses as well as the hipsters. They are not Lennon and McCartney, nor would you ever want them to be. Vertigo is much more of the soundtrack to a great evening out on the town and or the album you load in your car CD player and ends up there all summer. The record is that good.