Thursday, May 5, 2011

Not Quite a New Shifters Album

The Shape Shifters have a newish album out... sorta. It's called The Shape Shifter Army, and it popped up around the end of 2010. Accesshiphop describes it as a "[t]our only release from the Shape Shifters! Featuring greatest hits, remixes and unreleased or no longer available material!" And if you got it from them or at a show, you received a CDR in a purple slimline case featuring a pretty random track-listing, including a lot of songs that don't appear to be from their past albums. It's a little bit hard what to make of this album, exactly, with such an eclectic collection of songs, but that's fitting for the Shifters, I guess.

So just what do we have here, exactly? Let's see if we can demystify this track-listing a little:

1. G's In da House - This is a track from the incomplete and unreleased collaboration between Circus and Odd Nosdam. The whole thing would make a great official release, even incomplete, it's so strangely compelling. Just the finished tracks, "Circus for President" and the other Nosdam instrumentals would make an awesome CD or limited vinyl. But oh well. Anyway, this was leaked online as an mp3 but has otherwise gone unreleased until now.

2. Soyons Sales - This is a bi-lingual song by a group called Gourmets featuring the Shifters from 2008. This is a cool, wild song that was released on vinyl in 2008 - I wish I knew what the French MCs were saying.

3. Dig Dig Dig - This is another great song - love the hook! It's an ode to crate digging by Akuma & Factor featuring Awol and RadioInactive, from their 2005 album, Dawn of a New Era.

4. Yum Yum - This is from the Shifters' last official album, Was Here.

5. The Funkiestereo - This is the opening track to Existereo's 2004 album, Crush Groove. It's got a dope, 90's throw-back style beat with some hard cuts.

6. Get Acquainted - Another track from Akuma & Factor's Dawn Of a New Era.

7. Three the Hard Way - This one's from another Akuma album that dropped the same year as Dawn, called Eye In the Sky.

8. Tobasco - Another one from Was Here.

9. L.A. Is the Mother Land - This one's from the Existereo & Deskee album, Hopeless Crooks With Open Books.

10. Automatic Movement - I think this is an exclusive song to this CD, another unreleased track. It's a catchy, upbeat solo track by Doc Lewd. If you don't recognize Doc's name, you'll surely remember his voice from other Shifters projects like the Soul Lows album. He was also on "Get Acquainted," above.

11. S.O.T.F. - This is from Awol One's 2004 album, Self-Titled and features Circus and 2Mex.

12. Tarantulas - This is from RadioInactive's 2006 album, Soundtrack To a Book.

13. Welcome 2 America 2012 - This is a Die Young song from Soul Lows.

14. Futuristic - Another track from Was Here. I'm surprised they keep going back to that album, since it was their last official album and pretty widely released. You'd think they'd stick to rarer stuff.

15. Counter Clock Wise - This is actually "Counter Cloudwise," an OMD song from Fat Jack's Cater To the DJ compilation album, mistitled.

16. Beetleborg - This is from Adopted By Aliens, and certainly one of their most "out there" numbers, half in English and half in Spanish.

17. Miracle Business - This is fun, religiously subversive posse cut from Matre's 2009 solo album, Easter Sonday[sic.].

18. Quit Your Job - More from Was Here.

19. FEARS - Another from Awol's Self Titled.

20. Run the Crowd - And, finally, still more from Was Here.

All in all, this is an interesting little album. There's not much unreleased or unique to this disc (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if that Doc Lewd song was on some obscure CD I missed). It picks out some nice gems from the lesser known extended Shifters family members' solo albums, meaning only the most die-hard fan would have all these songs already. Some exclusive remixes or something like accesshiphop promised us would've gone a long way, though. And there's certainly far too much of Was Here on here (surely anybody who would be picking up this obscure album would have that one already). So I can't help feeling a little disappointed.

If you're a major fan, this off-beat little Shifters compilation makes for a rewarding listen - certainly there's a lot of good songs. But for the rest of us, don't worry that you're missing out on anything essential. There's not much here by way of new or lost recordings, just recycled product.

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