Pukka Up – The Summer Lives On

Written by Michael

November 14, 2011 9:01 pm

Initially, what makes this album so appealing is the array of talent featured heavily on this very site. Tim Berg (Avicii), Norman Doray, Thomas Gold, Dirty South, CD1 Club Disc is particularly appealing – mixed by Sam Walker. The question is, is it packaged well?

If the transition from track one, Funkagenda & Adam K – Drift, to track two, Axwell & Ingrosso – Together, is anything to go by, it’s a little sketchy. The transition is very noticeable, and not particularly subtle. But then this is clearly an album not in the mood for dithering, but getting on with the party. The sheer energy of the house vibes from the off only perpetuates that further, “Together” is vibrant and certainly no slow grinder.

Slightly disappointing though is that the transitions between tracks don’t improve much and are still quite rough round the edges. For a compilation album that can be “assembled” on a computer this seems a bit bizarre. The selection though is very much business as usual, with uplifting energetic house track one after the other.

Dislike house music with the cheering crowds built in? You’ll dislike Fifth Avenue – The Festival then, a shame as other than that it’s another solid track. I’ll be straight up with Falseface – In Plain Sight, this is house music lacking all of the sophistication with tremendously grating synths.

We return to true class with Dirty South Thomas Gold – Alive, which is currently in my mind one of the defining house tracks of 2011. Unbelievably sultry vocals, a jaw dropping hook and a spin-tingling riff, Thomas Gold is going to find emulating this a mammoth task, especially when the track drops. Don’t listen and drive to this, you won’t be able to keep your hands on the steering wheel for a “hands in the air” moment. Might get a bit nasty, that. Veteran house DJ Mark Knight, the man behind Toolroom Records, further improves the selection of CD1 with The Future, before Tim Berg/Norman Doray/Sebastian Drums, Michael Woods and Sander Van Doorn all get their dirty little mitts on the mix to make up for a couple of slightly dodgy track choices and some slightly off mixing..

CD2 is the Boat Mix, which Pukka Up describes as “a retrospective collection full of the anthems that have made the Pukka Up Ibiza Boat parties so unforgettable over the last 8 years”. Mark Robinson’s mixing also seems at first lacklustre, for some reason some little snippets of track 2 managed to find themselves in track 1, way before the transition. But it does improve, and the track selection is solid too.

Fifth Avenue – Feel With Me is a particularly reliable starting point, and Kings of Tomorrow – Finally is a classic well deserving of its inclusion. CD2 is a much more laidback affair and the going back through the years provides greater choice, and a greater refinement in the music. This is synth and vocal house galore, who can forget SNS – I Believe? The compilation ends of the instantly memorable Ray Foxx – The Trumpeter, should you not know of it already, which as a Pukka fan would be quite strange.

CD3 is the Beach Mix, which is the chilled house side of the compilation. This is for when CD’s 1 and 2 have worn you out and you need something a bit more suave in vibe to relax to, without stopping the music entirely. Again mixed by Mark Robinson, there’s strong tones of all sides of chilled house, with Balearic, Chicago and even Swiss styles making odd but strangely cohesive appearances, as we presume they did and do at Pukka up nights.

Such is the odd diversity of CD3 it’s very difficult to pin down, but it is enjoyable in a way that non-dance music fans particularly may find appealing. Afro Medusa – Pasilda is a very deep sounding British house track that takes things so slow they almost stop. Michel Cleis – La Mezcla sounds like the love child of a Macarena, a Keyboard and Bongos, yet is almost medicinal in its sound.

T Ski Vally – Catch The Beat, now this is getting silly! This is practically hiphop, and seriously old school hiphop at that. It is house though, but it’s quite literally on the other side of the Atlantic compared to the earlier tracks.

CD3 then, in a bizarre way, adds up. The song choices are quite phenomenal and you have to wonder who was given the key to the records cupboard, but at the same time every track is fantastic and blending them together has created a record that would surely act well as a hangover cure – logical for a Beach CD.

Summing up Pukka Up –  The Summer Lives On is really then very difficult as what we actually have is three completely different compilations with three very different vibes. The standout CD is most definitely Beach Mix, closely followed by Boat Mix. The Club Mix is very much a case of business as usual with little in the way of surprise but solid nonetheless. Some slightly iffy mixing is inexcusable but at the same time detracts little from this compilation which provides a varied and at times brilliant sound track – and for £12, you’d be hard pressed to complain.

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