(Review by guest writer Will W.)
Make no mistake about it, Freemasons are among the finest of production teams in existence. The Brighton duo have just released the second installment of their "Shakedown" compilation series and it is phenomenal. In an age where dance music now has strong electro leanings, Freemasons have remained true to their soulful disco roots; they remain relevant with a sound all their own. Featured on "Shakedown 2" is an eclectic mix of re-workings of classics and newer collaborations with some of the hottest names in pop music.
The two-disc set is evenly balanced in that there are no real lulls to be found. It is high-energy bliss from start to finish and its release is fittingly timed in a summer that unfortunately has lacked any true standout anthems. The first disc boasts a stellar remix of Solange Knowles' "Sandcastle Disco"; Jamiroquai's "Don't Give Hate a Chance"; a cover of Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited" which outshines its original; Moby's delicious "Disco Lies"; "Keep This Fire Burning" (originally performed by Swedish pop muse Robyn) and the classic "Free" by Ultra Naté.
Disco two features the duo's popular re-invention of Beyoncé's "Ring The Alarm" which features a motif of the much talked-about string interlude also heard on current smash hit "Heartbreak Make Me a Dancer" featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor; the career-saving Bhangra remix of Kelly Rowland's "Work"; Kylie Minogue's "The One" remix; Canada's darling Deadmau5's "Ghosts & Stuff" combined with Lisa Stansfield’s “Hold On”; and sensational updates of Annie Lennox's "Here Comes the Rain Again" and New Order's "Blue Monday". The latter two offerings stay true to their original versions and are offered exclusively for those who purchase the actual album.
The main thing which holds "Shakedown 2" back is that there are tracks which have now appeared on multiple releases from Freemasons - namely "Rain Down Love", "Love On My Mind" and "When You Touch Me". Mind you, they do infuse some minor updates to these tracks for a better album flow. Also, I will be one of the few to admit it, but Sophie Ellis-Bextor's vocals on centerpiece "Heartbreak Make Me a Dancer", simply aren't strong enough to carry the duo's vastly detailed production especially when you compare it to some of the featured vocalists in their body of work. Above this, anyone following Beyoncé's career will be sad to know that her outstanding remixes of "Greenlight", "Deja Vu" and "Beautiful Liar" were not included. And what about their important remix of Solange Knowles' "I Decided" that lit the blogs afire last summer.
Your summer will not be complete without Freemasons' "Shakedown 2". To order it, you can get import it directly off Amazon UK. No North American release date has been announced at this time, but as was the case with their previous releases, we will just have to remain patient. To sample some more Freemasons, visit their Myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/freemasons.