Mark Rae is one half of Rae and Christian and founder of Grand Central Records. He is also a mate of Mancunian DJ eclectic fish and tea boy, Mr. Scruff. Rae is a DJ beat freak himself and he’s compiled the next edition of the Trust The DJ series entitled, Ode To A Dying DJ. A somewhat morose title for a mix album aimed at “bridging the gaps between dancehall, hip hop, breaks, soul and funk”.
The ‘theme’ to this album is “Jamaica and beyond” and features Dancehall’s Vybz Kartel who joined Mark is his ‘ARP’ guise. Kartel is hailed as one of the most talented and hottest Dancehall DJs and there’s an exclusive track called ‘Dirty Shirt’ where Rae’s disco beats meets Kartel’s ‘Picture Dis’ rap (profanity warning for those that can spell).
The album starts with a space bass thumper by Tipper called ‘Ton Of Bricks’ and a Mark Rae remix of ‘Till I Left The Music’ by The Funky Lowlives. This is very much in the Chicken Lips approach to compiling a CD and it’s a good start; the mix into Cecile, ‘Hot Like We’ is spot on. ‘Hot Like We’ is on the Red Alert Riddim that ARP follows a rap by YZ, ‘Nuff Time To Waste’.
Plastyc Buddha’s ‘String Vibe’ and Buccaneer & Blaxx ‘Blackout Rhythm’/The Nudge featuring Rusty Ps ‘The Quickness represent the hip hop side to the party. In-between these two, ‘Walk In Space’ by Fingathing (which was a 12″ release on Grand Central last year) and Rae’s own ‘Mind, Body and Soul’ get squeezed in. The latter was on Rae’s solo album, ‘Into The Depths’ and nicks a vibe break from Cal Tjader (we like that).
But for me, it’s the last third that are my current favourites starting off with Rae’s ‘Medicine’ (the Kraak & Smaak remix boogie version), the broken Co-Op classic ‘Loose Lips’ by Seiji featuring Lyric L and the strange ‘Austrian’ Dancehall of Stereotyp meets Al’Haca ‘Blaze ‘n’ Cook‘ (Gilles Peterson has put the Peter Kruder remix of this in the Worldwide All Winners this week but I still prefer the original as included here).
The last two tracks of the CD are the ‘reggae’ end represented by Black Grass, ‘Nice Up’ (closest here to ska meets Dr. Who style theme music via Brighton) and Overproof Soundsystem, ‘Get With It’ (U-Roy-Upsetter mix-up UK style).
Mix CDs are not everybody’s cup of Mr. Scruff tea and this is less fish obsessed than Rae or Scruff’s solo releases. There is enough here for most to enjoy and Rae turns out to be the star. It encouraged me to get out his 2002 CD, ‘Rae Road’ which is well worth another listen. So lots of good mixing of some ‘underground’ tracks makes for an excellent compilation in my book. Five stars.
Reviewed: ‘Ode To A Dying DJ’ Released 4th July 2005 [15 tracks, 62mins]
Grand Central Records
Grand Central: 1 hour mix by Aim
Mark Rae – ‘Rae Road’ (Grand Central) 
Kraak & Smaak: Dutch trio K&S debut album ‘Boogie Angst’ June 05 Jalapeno Records