In the year 2000, I was 48 years old. I had just moved to Camden, and was living alone, for the first time in ages. I had a new car, and like many tracks featured in this series, I heard a record on the radio in that car, that I had had not heard before. I couldn’t keep still in my seat, and found myself jiggling around, oblivious to strange stares from other drivers, in the heavy traffic leading out to Brent Cross. I didn’t really catch the name of the song, as I was too busy humming along to it, and car-dancing like a fool, to listen to the announcement at the end. I wanted to listen to it again, straight away, and felt empty when it had ended.
I had to endure the embarrassment of going into a record shop in Central London the next day, and asking the juvenile assistant for a record that went “something like this”. What followed was the worst rendition of the tune ever, followed by a puzzled look on the youngster’s face. I suddenly remembered some words, “Oh- ‘fantastic, boombastic’. This snippet was enough to provide the recent school leaver with enough information. He steered me to a CD, telling me “it’s on this, it’s called ‘Woman Trouble’.” The boy knew his trade, and it was the right record, as he confirmed by playing a snatch from the track in the shop. When I said “wrap it up”, he seemed perplexed, and asked, “Do you know it is a compilation of UK garage, you know, like 2-step, by Artful Dodger?” I assured him that it was the right one, and hurried home to play it.
To say that a CD of thirteen tracks, is a classic, and almost flawless, is high praise indeed. However, this compilation of different songs by Artful Dodger, using various samples, assorted vocalists, and fantastic arrangements, is as near perfect as it gets. Young singers, at the top of their game fourteen years ago, render near-perfect songs, and accompanied by haunting melodies, thumping beats, and high production values, the whole thing is a wonder for the ears to behold. There is one track that I am not that bothered about, but one out of thirteen is pretty good odds. This CD is rarely out of my car, and is enjoyed as much today, as it was then. If anything, it gets better with time. As well as the track that led me to seek it out, there are other delights. ‘Think about me’, ‘Please Don’t Turn Me on’, ‘Movin’ Too Fast’, and ‘Re Re-Wind’, to name four more. The CD is called ‘It’s All About The Stragglers’, and is available from Amazon for £3.08p, the price of a large cappuccino. I suggest you buy it, but then I would, wouldn’t I?
OK, what was a 48 year old (now almost 62) doing listening to UK Garage, and jumping around in his car, like an unruly teenager? All I can say, is that if you can listen to this and not move an inch, see a doctor. Here is the track in question, an ‘official video’. Try the others please, they are all out there somewhere, free of charge.