Everything But The Girl’s Walking Wounded has been at the top of my reissue wantlist for about as long as I’ve been buying records. It sits at a strange apex of every kind of music I hold dear - atmospheric drum & bass, smart electronica, tender indie singer-songwriter, bossa nova - and drinks it all in without sounding forced or cliche. For context: LTJ Bukem’s Logical Progression only came out the month before; Goldie’s Timeless the year before that, so this was wayyy before drum & bass went mainstream, and a good 18-24 months before it became a caricature of itself. The band’s UK label had just dropped them after the lukewarm sales of Amplified Heart, and the Todd Terry remix of “Missing” was still a few months off from becoming the worldwide sensation that would elevate the band, when Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn were quietly checking out the burgeoning drum & bass scene, putting their own spin on the sounds they were hearing in DJ sets by scene fixtures Doc Scott, Bukem and Fabio in London’s West End, utilizing “just an Akai sampler, a computer, a synth and guitar, an inexpensive vocal mic, and an 8-track tape machine.” The title track - co-wrote and produced by D&B-studio-rats-of-the-past Spring Heel Jack - was what hooked me initially, coming up again and again in Napster searches for ‘drum and bass,’ ‘jungle’ and ‘trip hop.’ But whatever I thought drum & bass was at the time, this was acres bigger than that… those delayed and re-pitched halftime 808 rhythms and cinematic orchestral washes carry Tracey’s vocals in like a giant cloud before dissolving into taut rolling breaks and booming 808 licks; it was unlike anything I’d heard before, and I’ve yet to hear any drum & bass reach such levels of consciousness (we called it ‘intelligent drum & bass’ back then, barf) since. Once you really get into it though, “Before Today” reveals itself as the record’s obvious prized pig (look up some live performances of this one from the era, WTF), rolling out the title track’s same arsenal of breaks and 808s with Watt’s sparse but sublime sample programming to underpin Thorn’s grand subjugation: “I want your love, and I want it now.” “Big Deal” and “Good Cop, Bad Cop” are cut from the same cloth to similarly delectable results. Elsewhere, “Wrong” is a callback to the chart-topping house sound of “Missing,” while “Single” deploys a more tempered downtempo production for Thorn’s sultry petition of a former lover, and Howie B provides a big splashing groove for “Flipside.” Yeah, sure, most of these big tracks are available on twelves, many of them backed with deadly remixes by D&B icons (Omni Trio, Photek, Adam F, Dillinja, pretty motherfucking impressive in hindsight!), but now we’ve finally got the ability to put on the full album and just dissolve into the floor. Half-speed remaster at Abbey Road Studios by longtime EBTG mastering engineer Miles Showell with full-color picture sleeve, highest recommendation!
- 180g black vinyl pressing
- remastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios
- housed in full-color picture sleeve
- limited edition
- music label: Buzzin Fly Records LTD 2019
reviewed by laughable butane bob 09/2019
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