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Mr Benn - Shake A Leg

Mr Benn - Shake A Leg

Mr Benn - Shake A Leg

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The sound of cold beers cracking open at a scorching summer roof party.

Sampler

Mr Benn was a popular animated children's television character in the 1970s. Mr Benn is also the moniker of Bristol DJ and producer Ben Menter who has released his danceable debut album via Nice Up Records with the dead giveaway title 'Shake A Leg'.

Mr Benn - Shake A LegThe Mr Benn character used to don fancy dress and travel back in time to faraway places. If this new Mr Benn had that chance he would probably visit the 1990s from whence much of his summery crushed blend of hip hop and sparse body shaking dancehall hails. But he also mixes in older and newer elements from other styles, drawing on roots reggae, Soca and wider Latin Caribbean music.

His production tools are fat basslines, thumping beats, scraping samples of guitar chops, live horns and assorted wobbles and bleeps. Across a trim eleven tracks he partners up with eleven mcs and vocalists from all over the world – including several from UK jungle lore.

As you’d expect from a professional DJ there are plenty of party tunes. The title piece is shamelessly catchy outdoor festival fare with Blackout JA in full Buju rockstone mode. Bristolian Eva Lazarus evokes a sweaty dance in detail with Pull It, while Panamanian born Chicago resident MC Zulu issues an ultimatum to “Work That” over Craig Crofton’s honking sax. Legendary UK talker Topcat asks us to Do The Move with a melody line from Barrington Levy’s Dances Are Changing – although the amount of singing and irrepressible galloping tempo might grate out of a clubbing context.

And it’s not all fun and games either. Tenor Fly laments a Brixton shooting in No More Guns. Shame sees New York rapper Emskee and Jamaica’s Souls Liberation castigate false friends to DJ Cheeba’s scratching and a nice sample of Alton Ellis’ cover of the Spinners’ It's a Shame. Likewise Serocee breathes life and fire into the well-worn topic of haters with the heartfelt, ominous Rising Star.

A few years back foreign pundits lamented the mixing of dancehall and hip hop. Of course they weren't referring to the fusion of 90s dancehall and 90s hip hop à la Mr Benn which is, like, old, and therefore established as ok. This record should find a receptive audience: thanks to that decade’s revival plus dancehall's mainstream UK media makeover from impenetrable politically incorrect foreign music to London’s soundtrack to a boisterous bash.

Once donned by your stereo 'Shake A Leg' should transport you instantly to the sound of cold beers cracking open at a scorching summer roof party with the faint mug of something fruity in the air. So if that’s somewhere you'd like to be, ask your friendly shopkeeper for the new album by Mr Benn.

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