It's All About The Stragglers
Record label: London/Sire
Format: CD
Release date: 18 September 2001

All of our UK readers are saying to themselves "been there, done that." That may be fine for them, but us Stateside heads have been trying to figure out what to make of 2-step garage. And unless you have a UK contact or have been frequenting the 2-step weeklies in your town, we've been getting cheated over here. Most UK garage representatives that we've been exposed to are crisp, clean and way too pristine. Not all of us have champagne tastes - where's the beats and bass from the bottom of the 40-ounce? They won't be found on the Artful Dodger collection, that's for damn sure.

Admittedly, Mark Hill's production is immaculate, but the end results have more to do with R&B than anything else. A listen to "Think About Me," "What You Gonna Do?," and "Please Don't Turn Me On" can send visions of Billboard chart domination running through anyone's head. And with a rotating group of vocalists including Michelle Escoffery, Lifford, and teenage heartthrob Craig David (that'll teach me to fall for a pretty face), much like with power radio's flavors of the month, lyrics and musical hooks can get lodged into your brain and you will find it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to get them out. If I had to pick out the good tracks on this compilation ("good" = "less annoying"), i'd steer towards "Re-Rewind," "Something," "Outrageous," and "Twentyfourseven" (featuring Michelle Blatt of All Saints - I actually liked this one best). When all is said and done, underground dance music's loss is R&B's gain. If American mainstream dance and urban radio stations haven't already made space in their rotation for the likes of Artful Dodger and Craig David, WHAT ARE THEY WAITING FOR?

{chloe knuckles}
  • click here to learn more about Artful Dodger.
  • click here for some RealAudio samples.
  • purchase this album at or at CD Now.

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