Wild Bunch The Story of A Sound System: Mixed by DJ Milo

Back in the day before I was a teenager in Bristol, England, I found myself at a daytime hip-hop party where DJ and MC competitions were going on. In between the music, a man grabbed the mic and constantly reminded the crowd to hang around as the Wild Bunch were going to play a set, apparently their first in quite some time. I'd vaguely heard the name before and decided to stick around for a bit, but as nightfall and parental trouble beckoned, with no sign of the Wild Bunch on stage, I retreated home. Of course the Wild Bunch would go on to have a seismic effect on music in general, with Nelle Hooper leaving to be a key figure in the success of the Soul II Soul sound system and become a successful producer in his own right, while most of the remaining members became the highly influential Massive Attack. However, DJ Milo, who is basically credited with creating what has often been termed, for better or worse, "the Bristol sound,” left England and didn't partake in the success of these groups. However, he's been coaxed out of seclusion to put together what turns out to be a stunning set, if not a historical document of sorts. The first half of this set is of very early ’80s hip-hop featuring oft-sampled classics like T La Rock's "It's Yours" and Spoonie Gee's "Love Rap" among its rare selections. Later, the set blends smile-inducing rare groove gems from Evelyn "Champagne” King, Teena Marie and Empress, while DJ Milo's sound system archives of fervent whistle blowing contingents provides a tangible rush. But while highly enjoyable, there's a method to DJ Milo's selections, as it reveals the blueprint for the often-imitated sound Bristol became known. The use of those stark ’80s hip-hop breakbeats fused together with soul vocals was the foundation of early Wild Bunch releases, like the radical reworking of Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love," which appropriately ends this disc. Even though I often regret not hanging around to hear that set, the music presented here represents the spirit of the sounds I heard in my youth and the logical progression that was to follow. (Strut)