I stumbled in this album in a used CD shop in Islington while living in London in late 2001 —the same shop I found Dusty in Memphis in. I was already a fan of Faithless [discogs.org] and I’ve covered Sunday 8PM is on this list, so initially I thought that this Back to Mine album was a new release or some Europe only release that I had missed.
Turns out yes, but no. Let me explain; Back to Mine [wikipedia.org] was (is?) a series of albums published by a small label in England. Each release was compiled by a different DJ or producer —and in this case both a DJ, Sister Bliss, and a producer, Rollo— and each release was a collection of songs, sometimes mixed, sometimes not, that inspired the artist or the things they would play in their own house after a night out.
I loved Faithless’ Back to Mine album so much I dove off the deep end and bought up as many as of the releases as I could find. I got a few more in England, then a bunch off off of EBay when I was back in the US —I don’t think they were offically released in the US. I even got a few in Singapore. According to Wikipedia there are 33 volumes, I think I have up to volume 25, maybe it’s time to go back and get there rest.
I have to say a that it’s a mixed bag. Some volumes I love, others are not to my taste. Music is funny that way, what an artist you like, likes or is inspired by, maybe completely not to your taste. How many Beatles or Led Zeppelin fans likes Blues?
Anyway, let us talk about Faithless’ entry into the series, number 5, released in October 2000, is still my favorite. It’s mixed most of the way through.
The sheer epic mess of the track selection on this album is mind blowing. I could write about how amazing each and every track is on it’s own and how it works as part of the the whole on this album. But’ I’m not going to do that, I’m going to restrict myself to a few highlights:
- The album starts with a brief into, just under a minute of a new (at the time) Faithless track which sets the mode, chill, ambient, downtempo… take your pick.
- After setting the stage the albums slides into “My Life” by Dido (Faithless producer Rollo’s sister), which is the final track off her 1999 album No Angel, which is a phenomenal album. “My Life” isn’t something you would think of on a downtempo electronica compilation but it works brilliantly here
- Immediately after “My Life” is “Childhood” by Dusted, this song is just pure awesomeness and is the beginning of a few tracks of perfect turn-of-the-century downtempo in a row
- In the middle of this downtempo selection masterclass is “Mushrooms” by Marshall Jefferson vs. Noosa Heads — this is one of my favorite tracks on the album, where every track is a favorite; the vocal samples are perfect, the dude talking about the first time he took mushrooms, because his girlfriend was freaky, but he didn’t know she was that freaky, is awesome, the type of silly story sort of chill you want on a late night after the club album. Reminds me of “Fluffy Little Clouds” buy the Orb
- We have to talk about “Another Night In” by the Tindersticks. This is the saddest song ever. It’s this depressed slow, dark rock song with mumbled lyrics about loneliness and lost love, it’s dark and depressing but it works here
I could write about every song. Seriously. But I’m gonna stop. But lets talk about the last two songs on the album:
- The penultimate song is “Fade Into Me” by Mazzy Star, yep, that one, you know it, you love it; It brings the mixed part of the album to a melancholy close, perfect wind down
- The final track begins with a sample “please daddy can I have one more? No son, you gotta go to bed right now. Oh please please please. OK then just one more…” leads into a reggae version of “Billy Jean” by Shinehead. Holy shit is it awesome, “a beauty queen with an M16…” Listen to it.
This album is in the running for my favorite album of all time. I can’t listen to it enough. Tragically, this album is not available on Apple Music, I checked in the US and the UK store. It’s also not on Spotify. I suspect it has to do with rights, it was probably never cleared for digital back in the day. The newer albums starting with Volume 29, released in 2019 are there. I tried to create a playlist but “Childhood” by Dusted is not available Apple, some specific remixes are not available or only available as mixed versions, etc., but here it is:
Luckily, someone did the leg work of building a playlist on Spotify too, but again there are missing tracks and it’s not the same unmixed, but you can appreciate the individual songs here: