As I listened to this album, I thought to myself; damn, every one of these songs would make an astounding Nike commercial. Now, that's not a bad thing (see VW's use of Nick Drake's "Pink Moon"). I'm not saying this album would be the perfect soundtrack for sweatshops. What I'm saying here is that like most Nike commercials attempt to do, this album stirs pure emotion and inspires. The incredible duo consists of James Lavelle, the founder of Mo' Wax Recordings (go to their website. Now.) and DJ Shadow (Josh Davis), the "Hendrix of turntables". Using their impeccable tastes, they recruit an incredible guest list to add their talents to this masterpiece. The album begins in a thrilling manner with Kool G Rap out-busting Busta in "Guns Blazing". Then the next three tracks allow you to catch your breath: "Unkle Main Title 1", "Bloodstain" and "Unreal" all remind me of great Massive Attack songs (get your hands on the import single of "Unreal" with Ian Brown doing vocals. It makes great even better).
The album then heads into, in my opinion, the raison d'être for this collaborative album – "Lonely Soul". I believe I can still maintain my masculinity and admit that this song under the right circumstances has brought a slight tear in my eye. Richard Ashcroft does his career justice by adding vocals to this track that starts off in a melancholy manner and ends with a celebratory string finale (brought to you by the London Session Orchestra). Now stop your chilling, because the album picks up again with "Nursery Rhyme", a genuine rocker that almost feels uncharacteristic in this album full of landscapes and samples. It's a track that inspires me to start jogging. Well…maybe tomorrow. But great credit goes to Unkle for finding this as-of-yet-appreciated talent, Badly Drawn Boy (who just won the prestigious Mercury Prize in England).
Then to my surprise, on "The Knock (Drums of Death Part 2)", I discovered the odd pairing of Mike D (who sounds fantastically old skool and doesn't miss those other two guys) with Jason Newstead (everyone's favorite Metallica member because he keeps his mouth shut). It's a fantastic barrage of sounds, samples, and layers that brings on 'dem drums of death. This record ends on a perfect note with Thom Yorke and his fantastic, gut-wrenching vocals on "Rabbit In Your Headlights". I have never heard loneliness evoked in such a realistic manner. I would not be surprised if this collaboration was what inspired Radiohead to record Kid A. Overall, this is an album that can be all over the place and still maintain a tight consistent feel. While others may see it as a weakness, I see it as the masterpiece for the A.D.D. generation. This is one Unkle you'll want to be related to.