Various Artists – Defected presents House Masters: Todd Edwards (Defected)
reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
The time is ripe for a Todd Edwards retrospective. The much-loved producer, credited as one of the founding fathers of late-90s garage, UK style, has always had a distinctive way of working his beats. With clipped percussion, cleverly-used samples, good humour and a large dose of soul, he has been a go-to man for remix and production for nigh on 30 years. Daft Punk have credited his influence, and worked with him on two albums, while a whole host of chart bothering artists, among them Moloko, Robin S, Wildchild and Wretch 32, have gone his way for a remix.
Recently Defected have taken Edwards under their wing, restoring hundreds of previously unavailable productions to the catalogue, and this double album provides a useful retrospective and a reminder of what might be in store for the collector.
What’s the music like?
Brilliant. You don’t get to be dance music royalty without making good music – and there’s no doubt Edwards makes great music for good times. His fluid grooves are sliced and diced, the clipped percussion sounds putting a skip in each beat. The approach is largely soulful, and on grooves like God Will Be There and the landmark Edwards production Saved My Life, more than a bit spiritual.
Defected have divided the collection in two, with a set of full length original productions complemented by some excellent examples from the remix collection. The original productions are equally represented by past and present, with You’re Sorry one of his best recent songs, and the Sinden collaboration Deeper working really well on the vocal front. All I Need is more percussive, while Dancing For Heaven is a buoyant treat and Fly Away is super cool. The Daft Punk association is well represented, with the charmer Face To Face bringing out the best in both sides, and Fragments Of Time, from the Random Access Memories album, a great track for top-down driving.
There is a smoother version of St Germain’s Alabama Blues, with a warm guitar and organ but not quite the heat soaked charm of the earlier version. Indo’s R U Sleeping fares really well, as does Moloko’s Pure Pleasure Seeker – while Zoot Woman’s Taken It All gets a shiny remix.
Does it all work?
Yes. Edwards has an effortlessly cool style and it runs throughout this collection, moving between house and garage with great ease. He always gives the vocal plenty of room, but still packs the production with all kinds of riffs, beats and soundbites, keeping the dancefloor moving at all times.
Is it recommended?
It is – but be warned, listening to this might take you down a Todd Edwards rabbit hole. With so many productions remastered and now available through Defected, it would be churlish to stop here!
You can buy David Penn’s House Masters compilation from the Defected website here