November 15, 2008

DJ Shadow - The Private Press (June 2, 2002)




Josh Davis, also known as DJ Shadow, approached his second album, The Private Press, as a brand new project, and not as a follow-up to Endtroducing..., his certified classic debut disc. (Preemptive Strike, an album culled from early singles recorded prior to Endtroducing..., doesn't count as an actual album in the Shadow canon.)

This may be why it took the man six years to finally record and release his sophomore effort: there was too much pressure to live up to his previous success. Luckily for us, Shadow decided to move in the opposite direction: he opted to pretend the first album didn't exist, so that he could see his sophomore effort with new eyes. On The Private Press, DJ Shadow dives deeper into his crates, emerging with some of the most obscure vocal samples I have ever heard. Similar with how the first disc was received, the critical acclaim started piling on rapidly, and although The Private Press didn't sell many copies, it's important to note that Endtroducing... didn't sell that well, either.

Unlike with the first album, I don't have a special story to relate regarding The Private Press. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) bought me Endtroducing... as a gift (and she picked it up from a local record shop and not a hypermegaconglomerate, so she paid full retail price. Happy B-day, baby, you're fucking awesome!). I picked up The Private Press the day it dropped, however, and there's no real story to tell (I parked my car, went in the store, and the rest). I suppose it's important for me to note the fact that I snatched this up on its release date (there were plenty of them in the store) because these days, an album has to either (a) truly impress me, or (b) be somewhat Wu-Tang affiliated for me to rush out and buy it the first week.

If you have any special stories that involve any of DJ Shadow's work (his music is conducive to creativity, I've noticed), please feel free to share them in the comments below.

1. (LETTER FROM HOME)
This is the weirdest album intro that I have heard in the past hour. Where the fuck does Shadow find his material?

2. FIXED INCOME
For being the first actual song on The Private Press, I was surprised to find this song pretty damn boring.

3. UN AUTRE INTRODUCTION
This was annoying as shit. Thankfully, it's only about fifty seconds long.

4. WALKIE TALKIE
Starts off sounding like Prince Paul lite, but evolves not-so-gradually into some fucked-up shit. And I somehow meant that in a good way.

5. GIVING UP THE GHOST
This comes off as the soundtrack to either (a) being on the run, or (b) being a cop during an investigation, both from a cheesy 1980's flick. But I love cheesy 1980's flicks, so that's a positive in my book. There is also a mild 1980's vibe running throughout the entire disc, for the two readers that are still reading this write-up.

6. SIX DAYS
I remember watching the video for this on MTV2, back when it actually showed videos. (It was directed by Wong Kar-wai, who also directed Fallen Angels and In The Mood For Love.) This is easily the most accessible DJ Shadow song ever recorded, and it helps that it still sounds really good today. Now that I think about it, I've only seen two DJ Shadow-related videos: this one, and UNKLE's "Rabbit In Your Headlights", which is simply a great video clip.

7. MONGREL...
Fills the position that "Stem" held on Endtroducing..., with a simple melody that grows more and more complex with each listen. This is some good stuff, peaceful and yet ominous.

8. ...MEETS HIS MAKER
Fills the position that "Long Stem" held on Endtroducing..., where the simple melody from the track that preceded it is warped into another animal entirely. I prefer "Mongrel..." more, but this shit is even more peaceful, if that's possible.

9. RIGHT THING / GDMFSOB
Not really worth your precious time.

10. MONOSYLABIK
Meh.

11. MASHIN' ON THE MOTORWAY (FEAT LATEEF)
Having an actual rapper on the album is a nice bonus, but as a whole, The Private Press isn't hitting as hard as Endtroducing... does. There's really no way that it could, though. Upon first listen, this track comes off as awkward, but it kind of grows on you like a fungus.

12. BLOOD ON THE MOTORWAY
Much longer than necessary, but if you're in the market for some good, melancholy, and ultimately hopeful background music to write that million-dollar screenplay, you're in luck.

13. YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN
This one didn't work out so well.

14. (LETTER FROM HOME)
Please refer to the comment from the intro.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Let me get this out of the way: The Private Press is not Endtroducing... Hell, it's not even UNKLE's Psyence Fiction, the side project DJ Shadow worked on in 1998. This album won't change anybody's life, and it certainly won't get anybody laid. What it does, and does consistently, is provide creative music that will serve as a better soundtrack to your day-to-day life than what some of these other melon farmers are offering. It may not be groundbreaking, but it is entertaining, for the most part, and that's all music is really supposed to do.

BUY OR BURN? This album has enough goo din it to warrant your money. You'll just be using the 'skip' button more often than on the debut, that's all.

BEST TRACKS: "Giving Up The Ghost"; "Mongrel..."; "Six Days"; "Mashin' On The Motorway"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing...

9 comments:

  1. Okay review I guess. Anyway you asked for Shadow related memories so I'll start off by saying that the Latryx track he did for Latryx (funnily enough) is solely responsible for me getting back into properly creative hip hop (compared to the dross that was floating about at the time). The sample, drum programming and weirdness with the dual vocals in the first half have not been surpassed since IMO, even on the Spectrum record (I'm a bit of a Shadow stan in the same way you relate to all things Wu!). And if you get a chance there are early vids for Midnight in a Perfect World and a downright bizarre clip for High Noon, both directed by B+. Keep up the solid blogging Max, I actually enjoy reading your stuff. And sorry for the overlong comment . .

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  2. Interesting Shadow story: Saw RJD2 open up for Shadow w/ The Perceptionists? I believe.. didn't have any of my shadow records so i ended up copping a copy of rj's let the good times roll promo 12" (no shadow records for sale at the show).. anyway, my friends sister catches malcolm catto's drum stick (he played with shadow @ the show) and went to get it signed so i got my rjd2 white label signed by dj shadow. shadow was also talking rap with the locals (this was in toronto) and seemed to have a lot of love for Frankenstein/Frankie Ano/Delphi Oracle, but sadly.. most of his fans had no idea who they were. great show, nice post.. and the vocal sample for six days is six day war by colonel bagshot.

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  3. Nice writeup. I'm interested to hear your take on The Outsider.

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  4. the song blood on the motorway was actually used in a MTV film called better luck tomorrow

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  5. I remember not caring much for that movie, but it's been a while.

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  6. good movie imho

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  7. AnonymousMay 08, 2013

    "Okay review I guess."

    fuck you.

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  8. AnonymousMay 08, 2013

    Wong Kar-wai is god. All his movies are incredible, especially fallen angles and chungking...

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