DJ Shadow: Endtroducing (Deluxe Edition)

By Scott Kara

Herald rating: * * * * *

Most albums have a twilight period when they're first released, during which they sell a lot. DJ Shadow's Endtroducing has had a 10-year twilight. It has never stopped selling since it was released in 1996. It's proof this album - which is part hip-hop, part dance music, (you try defining it) - is both timeless and revolutionary.

One thing that has changed in the past 10 years is the fact that sampling and DJing have become, if not passe, taken totally for granted. So how can Endtroducing still be relevant now when it is simply Shadow (real name Josh Davis) mixing his favourite parts of many of his thousands of records? Endtroducing is easily relevant because it is perfection - in pace, song structure, and atmosphere.

Starting with the perfect beat of Building Steam With a Grain of Salt, which eventually breaks into a perfect funk guitar, to the bully-boy, spring-in-your-step of The Number Song, to the foreboding, then cacophonous, Stem/Long Stem/Transmission 2, makes Endtroducing one hardcore, unique, and never-been-repeated hip-hop album. That's if you can call it hip-hop.

It isn't really - this album is a peak in the evolution of sample-based music and vinyl culture.

In the liner notes, Shadow pays tribute to the innovators of the culture, such as Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Dr Dre, Eric B, Arthur Baker, and the like. After hearing Midnight In a Perfect World or Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain, he deserves to pay tribute to himself.

The only thing about Shadow is that he hasn't been the most prolific of chaps, with just two albums as DJ Shadow (if you don't count the excellent compilation Preemptive Strike [1998]). But as his second album - Private Press, from 2002 - was also killer, then he's off the hook.

The deluxe edition second disc - always a bonus with these reissues - traces the original track listing but has alternate takes, demo versions, and remixes of the songs. Plus, on the end, there's a 12-minute live set from Shadow in Oxford from October, 1997. But the best bonus on this disc is the extended overhaul of the bouncy, bangin', and catchy Organ Donor, which, at just under two minutes on the original album, was far too short anyway.

If you still have Endtroducing, it's probably worn out, so get it again with the added extras. If you have never owned it, or heard it, then shame, but it's not too late.

Label: Universal

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