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It's All About The Stragglers - Artful Dodger

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Genre: Dance & Electronic - House & Garage / Artist: Artful Dodger / Audio CD released 2001-11-20 at Ffrr

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      22.02.2009 11:01
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      Artful Dodger's debut album

      "It's All About The Stragglers" came out in 2000, at the height of popularity for UK Garage. This urban dance music emmerged in the mid-nineties, and faded around 2002 (before being brought back as Bassline in 2007). Artful Dodgers were amongst the most popular acts, and as a production group, out of Southampton, they collaborated with R&B singers to perform on top of their 2-Step beats. With the dance scene anywhere being ever-changing, constructing an album is difficult, as the music is quickly old, but with this album constructed efficiently, they managed to stay relavent at this peak period with tunes such as "TwentyFourSeven", "Woman Trouble" and "Re-Rewind".

      1. "Think About Me"

      To start the album off, we have one which starts quite simplistically with a piano loop, which builds up the mood, before things such as vocals are introduced into things and then it breaks down as they break out into some some sooth 2-Step percussion. Of all the tracks on the album, it isn't as good, but still not bad.

      **Four Stars**

      2. "Re-Rewind"

      This is perhaps their most well-known track, and has them really taking the 2-Step sound to the masses as it presented Craig David on the vocals and them tearing it up whilst using the 2-Step production, and adapting unconventional sound effects to it. It is a smooth out which really represents what the Garage scene was about at the time.

      **Five Stars**

      3. "Outrageous"

      This sample-heavy work is a bit of a change for them, but not uncommon for a Garage track. I felt as though they really foudn their strengths with this one as they manipulated the vocals to fit in with what was required of the thing. As a result, the lyrics make no sense, but work perfectly with the beats as it complements the work of the production duo.

      **Five Stars**

      4. "Please Don't Turn Me On"

      Lifford takes on the role of the singer for this one, and with male vocals from another, rather than Craig David, it forces a change in album towards a smoother one. You get just this here as the producers do a rather gentle one which only breaks down in to proper 2-Step at the chorus. The way it works is rather predictable, and takes from Drum & bass, which came before it.

      **Five Stars**

      5. "TwentyFourSeven"

      Taking from the popular sounds of the American R&B scene at the time, this one standds out as rather different to what else you find here. It was very popular to remix R&B tracks in this 2-Step form at the time, and here they reverse it with some typical Darkchild or Timbaland beats from this time period and vocals from Melanie Blatt. I liked the fact that they were pretty much there with it all, and if you didn't already know, you would say it was an American artist.

      **Five Stars**

      6. "Something"

      This has the great comibnation of them workign with Craig David on the vocals, and just as on every other collaboration between the pair, it has them come up with something big to really capitalise upon the strengths of them all, and the teamwork between them. You can't help but like this with such great form and and great feel of things.

      **Five Stars**

      7. "Movin' Too Fast"

      This is another well-known recording from them, and one which was very popular at the time as they get the Italian-American, Romina Johnson, taking the lead in it all and singing over the top of another funky piece of production from them. They only manipulate her vocals to a minor degree, and it gives her a chance to really show what she can do herself.

      **Five Stars**

      8. "R U Ready"

      MC Alistair is the one who leads this one, and he really gets you wanting to move as he comes this loads of hype lines to just build up upon the banging beats from Pete Devereux and Mark Hill with his skatty approach to bringing energy to the listeners. This one shows how the UK had finally managed to find their own style of rapping, and had finally moven away from the US thing. However it didn't last long with the rise of Grime.

      **Five TSras**

      9. "I Can't Give It Up"

      The beats in this one are amongst the best that you find on the album as they up the tempo and hit the beats a lot harder than elsewhere on the album, and it really adds to things to make it a much more energetic tune on the thing. With this, they use the talent of Nadia for the vocals, and she brings it all together effectively. It is well-constructed, and keeps the high standard in effect.

      **Five Stars**

      10. "Woman Trouble"

      The heavy Hip Hop influence of things comes through in this one as Craig David, who takes on the role as the lead vocalist, comes with some of the fresh lines which were heard throughout the Garage world (in a similar way to how when Hip Hop first emmerged, several mandatory phrases were used in the tunes as they freestyled on the beat). This is a very well-done one with lots going for it as a story is told in the song, despite it being a straight dance tune.

      **Five Stars**

      11. "What You Gonna Do?"

      Taking from the most popular single off the album,"Re-Rewind", this one samples segments of that in this piece and transforms it into yet another killer tune from them. It is so so well-constructed, and has them surprise you even more with how they are able to come up with new things, despite the general 2-Step structure being quite rigid.

      **Five Stars**

      12. "It Ain't Enough"

      Edging towards the end of the album, this one has them comign with even more top-quality Garage as you have them performing a tune with them juxtaposing the best (but contrasting elemnts of the genre (aside from the beats) as you have Mz. May singing, but also MC Alistair gets a chance to do a little rap over it all just to increase the hype energy of it all. The lively nature of such lines just adds to the things, and despite the fact they don't say much, it is exactlyy how Hip hop developed too.

      **Five Stars**

      13. "We Should Get Together"

      Ending the album off, we have a tune which has them putting things into high gear as eveything comes together when they choose to bring in the female R&B vocals to some more icey backing on a 2-Step beat. It shows that even at the en of things, they can still come with something fresh as the record comes to a close.

      **Four Stars**

      This is a very strong album from Artful Dodger, and it is a shame that the Old School days of Garage haven't been able to fully-develop again, as a result, only this album was released by them, and they weren't able to show how the genre could have developed without completely changing its approach from the 2-Step prevalence to more 4x4 work and Bassine.

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        07.02.2009 15:19
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        great

        I remember when I used to be heavily into garage music and this lot were just breaking through onto the UK music scene. They had a string of top ten hits, helped by the presence of some strong guest vocalists.

        Who are they:

        Artful Dodger are Mark Hill and Peter Devereux, specialising in garage music with a commercial appeal.

        On this album:

        'Re-Rewind' spurned the 'bo selecta' catchphrase which most of us are familar with. It is a pleasing garage track with smooth sexy vocals from Craig David. The song is well produced with little pauses in it for the listener or crowd to react by shouting back the lyrics. 'Please Don't Turn Me On' is more soulful and features the vocal talents of Lifford. The song has some tasty lyrics and a beat which you could slow dance to. I rate 'Movin Too Fast' which has a great vocal from Romina Johnson and a nagging hook to it. It isn't as grating as 'Re Rewind' and is the cloest the album gets to being poppy.

        Other highlights:

        'Woman Trouble' is a delight, with Craig David and Robbie Craig trying to blow each other out of the water with their vocals! A lighter garage track with sparkle.

        Worst song: 'R U Ready' not very memorable and weaker vocals here.

        Verdict: A great commercial garage album which is still relevent now, check it out

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          09.01.2002 21:20
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          The Artful Dodger album is great. It has a wide selection of different people singing to accompany their backing sounds. These people include Craig David, Michelle Escoffery, Robbie Craig, MC Alistair, and Romina Johnson. These are just a few of the people who are the CD. The CD overall is very good, offering a selection of R’N’B, Dance and mild pop. It is a CD for a mixed variety of people. I bought this CD quite a while ago, back in 2000, but it has never stopped playing on my CD player. I love this CD because it has a great selection of types of music. I’m the type of person who can listen to almost any type of music. This CD is perfect for all my friends and me! 1. Think About Me This song is one of my favourites. It is all about a woman leaving a man, and then him getting upset. The song is basically saying that man think it is ok to leave women, but when reversed then it’s not ok. The song has a good tempo, slow to start with and then it goes into a dance beat. The singer Michelle Escoffery sounds good. She has a nice voice. (Released) 2. Re - rewind This is another of my favourites and everyone thinks I sing it (my name is Craig Davies / David!) It has a good backing sound, fast beat, little things like breaking glass and the “poing” sound, and where it goes up and down, with his voice and the sound in the back. Craig David sings this song. I keep playing this song because it is so good. (Released) 3. Outrageous This is a funny song. It starts out with a two beat drum and then it has this little voice in the background singing in a low voice. The actual main singing in this song is very good. Lynn Eden sings it. Through out the song it picks up the beat and at 1 minute in the song and sounds like a real song. A good song! 4. Please Don’t Turn Me On This is another song that is good. It sounds classy, is classy and is about a man cheating and he doesn̵
          7;t want to be turned on, because he has ‘someone’ at home waiting for him. Lifford sings it. The speed of the song is quite quick and is one you want to dance to in a club. (Released) 5. twentyfourseven This is one of my least favourite songs. On the album the singer makes it sound terrible. Her voice is (put it bluntly) rubbish. She isn’t any good and it is much better when that All Saint sung it. On the album Nicole sung it. The backing sounds to this song sound good, medium speed, cool instruments in the background and one instrument playing the whole way through (that sounds good) that I cannot wok out. A so so song. (Released (by some else)) 6. Something This is a song that sounds ok. It is not excellent, it sounds a bit on the dodgy side. It is not very good. The beat and the singer do not go together. The singers voice is not right for this type of song. The voice is also very bad. It has no power and does not sound good when it alternates between high and low. 7. Movin Too Fast (new version) At one point this song did get very annoying, but now it is good. It never used to stop getting played but now you only hear it a couple of times every so often. The song starts out good, the singer Romina Johnson has a good voice and she does that ‘hmmm’ on the song. It sounds good and she doesn’t strain her voice to make it sound good. (Released) 8. r u ready Starts well, “are you ready, ready London?” (X4). It sounds cool, and is an example of that dance/R’N’B. The song then goes on to a good beat and a singer (MC Alistair) makes it sound excellent. I have heard this song on the radio (commercial) in an advert and have not known whom it was by! I know now and I’m happy! One excellent song! Very good! 9. I Can’t Give It Up I not to fond of this song. It sounds a bit tacky, and the singer doesn’t make it sound any better either. S
          he sounds so flat and the words don’t make a lot of sense. For the chorus, you don’t want to know, it sounds terrible. The singer is Nadia. This song would so much better without this singer on it! Not a good song. 10. Woman Trouble One excellent fast beat (y) song! It sounds so good, and has two excellent singers on it. They sound cool, and good. It has a good beat and good words to the song. The song is saying about how this guy has had a bad trouble with this woman – something we can all probably relate to. 11. What You Gonna Do I don’t like this song. The whole song is out of sync. It doesn’t sound right. It sounds all out of place. This is unlike Artful Dodger. The song goes from a ‘cool’ singing then onto a part in the song that says “Drop the funk, drop the base” – This sounds terrible! Sorry Artful Dodger! 12. We Should Get Together This is another one of those songs that is very good. The backing instruments sound cool and go together in the song. They mix together like grebes and black clothes. The song is cool and has a good mix of timing and words. Overall this album is very good. If you like a bit of variety then this is one of those albums that does exactly that. It has a cool mix of songs and beats. Well done Artful Dodger!

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            18.07.2001 07:12

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            I really love this album. it is so diverse and has such a wide variety of styles on it! from the uk garage anthems of rewind, to the xelophone based we should get together, this album blends a number of different styles that make a very interesting listen. the most interesting thing about this album is the colaboration with so many unknown artists which can only promote their own image as well as the artists careers. This album is maybe not what all garag fans would be expecting as it enters both the pop and the dance music markets. for those who want to hear a new form of diverse chillout music though, this is really worth a listen. most of the songs off this album appear to be end of the night songs so it is perfect for a lazy summer night in the garden with a beer and a few friends. great buy!

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            07.05.2001 05:32
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            There is not one single track on this album that I don not like. Except for Woman Trouble which has been played way too much. Some critics have said this album is awful and it sounds more like r&b than garage. Well believe me it is all garage and the best garage. It has so many great people featuring on the album like Craig David, Robbie Craig and Lifford to name a few. The Artful Dodger prove that they are the number one group when it comes to 2-step. Here is a quick run down of the tracks on the album. It kicks off with Think About Me which is so relaxing but it still makes you want to dance. Re Rewind, the all time classic. This is the track which launched Craig David's career. It is still my favourite. Then there is Outrageous, this track is so funky it will keep you dancing all night long. Please Don't Turn Me On followes with Lifford's amazing voice. The Lyrics on this track are great. Twentyfourseven has a real groovy tune that is relaxing and funky at the same time. Something is amazing with Lifford featuring once again. Moving Too Fast is the greatest 2-step track of all time. It says that it is a new version but it sounds exactly the same. R U Ready featuring MC Alistar has a sort of reggae feel to it. I Can't Give It Up is a track which will be played in clubs for a long long time. Woman Trouble features two of garages favourite artists Robbie Craig and Craig avid. I t has a great rythm but it has been played too much. What Ya gonna Do is pure garage there is no sign of R&B in it. We Should et Together is the fastest track on the album. It WILL make you dance. It is one of my favourites. Then there is the original of Woman Trouble which is the same as the first one except it is not as fast paced. This album is the album of the year. If you love garage you will love this album. This album will put you in a great mood. Trust Me. This album deserves more than 5 stars.

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              09.04.2001 01:12
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              Artful Dodger has been really successful in a short period of time. Many of there songs have been hits in the charts,! The album it's All About The Stragglers contains contemporary garage music and I love garage and most of the good garage music has been done by the artful dodger, it is also mixed slightly with some rnb and it does go with it very well. Rewind, woman trouble, moving too fast, please don’t turn me on and are you ready are just a few of the great songs that are on this album. The beats in all the songs are great and i especially love the powerful bass which they play its really good especially when played on a decent system with decent sized speaker. In this album there are different types of songs to suit different moods, some you can listen to if u want to party, some good for just easy listening, some thought provoking, some even background music. This is a great compilation. The lyrics are just fab and match the music perfectly. I definitely think that this album is a bargain because of the quality of the tracks that are in it. Garage lovers would definatly love this.

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                07.04.2001 01:12
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                Artful Dodger's debut album 'It's All About The Stragglers' is a fine piece of work indeed. Whilst it's a garage album at heart, it clearly has pop/R&B sensibilities about it, ensuring it has the potential to reach a wide audience. The five (count 'em) singles to have been released from the album should give you a reasonably accurate picture of what to expect here. Artful Dodger use a selection of different vocalists on each track - Michelle Escoffery, Craig David, Lynn Eden, Lifford, Nicole, Romina Johnson, Nadia and Robbie Craig all feature. One name surely stands out amongst them but all are excellent guest vocalists, and the effect this has is that it gives the album a varied feel, though a level of consistency is maintained because most of these vocalists contribute at least two tracks each. 1: THINK ABOUT ME (Feat Michelle Escoffery). Fine yet subdued opener, though a strange choice for a single as it's not one of the most radio-friendly tracks on the album. 2: RE-REWIND (Feat Craig David). This will go down in history as the track which launched the career of Craig David in 1999. The most club-orientated track on the album (along with RU Ready), and one of the defining tracks behind the explosion of garage into the top 40 charts (this track was nearly Xmas number 1 in 1999!). 3: OUTRAGEOUS (Feat Lynn Eden). Not one of the best tracks, standard R&B/garage crossover tune. 4: PLEASE DON'T TURN ME ON (Feat Lifford). Another single, and another fine track. Singer Lifford got a solo record deal on the back of his vocals on this track, a measure of Please Don't Turn Me On's quality. More of an R&B track if anything, about the challenges of resisting late-night temptation... 5: TWENTYFOURSEVEN (feat.Nicole). Possibly the album's standout track, again a rather quiet, subdued track that goes against the tide of what most would describe as 'garage
                '. Very sparse; definitely one for chilling out to rather than getting on the floor for. 6: SOMETHING (feat Lifford). Lifford returns for this track, and whilst not as instantly impressive or memorable as Please Don't Turn Me On, it's still quality. 7: MOVING TOO FAST (feat Romina Johnson). Big hit from summer last year, all plinky piano chords and catchy chorus, the makings of another garage classic. Romina's not got the best voice out of the gathered half-dozen here but it complements this simple yet funky tune quite nicely. 8: R U READY (feat MC Alistair). Not great. Aimed straight for the clubs, with a bit of MCing over a standard garage beat. The album's weakest track by some distance. 9: I CAN'T GIVE IT UP (feat Nadia). Quite a good track, again it pales in comparison with some of the stronger, more distinct tracks, but the production quality is superb as always. 10: WOMAN TROUBLE (feat Robbie Craig/Craig David). Garage vocalist veteran Robbie Craig turns up on this track, which is included twice here in remixed and original formats. The added vocals of Craig David give the track a bit of an edge, but you can't doubt Robbie Craig's vocals here, extremely high quality. You've probably heard this, it was released in 2000, quite a big hit. 11: WHAT YOU GONNA DO? (feat Craig David). Craig's 3rd appearance, and another fine track. One of the album's more pure-garage moments, yet one of those tracks that's equally listenable in a club or at home. 12: WE SHOULD GET TOGETHER (feat Nadia). Quite good closing track, similar really to track 9. ...Phew! Basically then, don't buy It's All About The Stragglers expecting to find a garage album through-and-through, because it's a lot more varied than that. The leanings towards R&B are clearly apparent, especially in the Craig David and Lifford tracks. On the whole tho
                ugh the album is extremely listenable, and great for relaxing to, surprisingly enough. Artful Dodger clearly know how to spot a good tune, and the quality of the production and vocalists here mean that by and large this is fantastic debut.

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                17.02.2001 19:23
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                Unlike the many so called credible music magazine's out there, we don't have the daggers out for UK Garage just yet. We understand that UK Garage is more than just a passing trend and looks set to be the force that its sister genre R&B has been over the past few years. The main problem that most publications have with UK Garage is that it isn't made by 4 skinny middle class white boys and as such they just can't understand it. Problemo solved, as Artful Dodger happen to fit the NME friendly vision of music. Sadly that couldn't be further than the truth if you tried. With the exception of "Movin Too Fast" much of this record is flawed by the many accusations continually thrown at the genre itself. Firstly the main problem is the devil of UK Garage Craig David who featured on the very first monster hit "Re-Rewind" as well as "Woman Trouble" and "What You Gonna Do?", his only highlight is the "Bo Selecta" shout out. Its just that lack of any edge and danger that fills each and every collaboration from Lifford, Nicole and Robbie Craig. Perhaps one of the only worthwhile collaborations is "R U Ready" with MC Alistair, bad name with some top rhymes. As mentioned before "Movin Too Fast" works as a album track as well as a dance floor stormer, this is continued with "I Can't Give it Up" which is basically the same tune under another name. As a fan of UK Garage I can say hand on my heart that this album lacks any trace of originality or style. Maybe in the future when they run the risk of getting dropped by the record company they'll produce an album that's innovative, dangerous and has some hint of originality on it. By all means buy the "Movin Too Fast" single, even splash out money on the "Re-rewind" single as that's one of the better tracks featured here - but don't ever believe that UK Garage starts and
                ends with The Artful Dodger. In all honesty your money would be better spend buying a couple of blank tapes and recording The Dream Teams garage show on Sunday nights. Alternatively, try and check out London's hottest Garage act around NBP Crew as they wipe the floor with most acts around today. Alex McCann

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                  21.12.2000 01:50

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                  Artful dodgers album is pure brilliance. There is so much variety on the album I challenge anyone to find a track on it they dont like. From the dark underground garage sound of Rewind to the more vocal treats of Moving to fast and Woman Trouble. Artful dodger have worked with alot of great talent now, Craig David who's now and R&B artist, Romina Johnson and Lifford (who im sure will make it big). Unfortunatly the album has only been released on CD and Cassete, I would have killed to get my hands on the vinyl. I would recomend this CD to everyone, anyone who likes this should also check out MJ Coles album Sincere.

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                  30.11.2000 21:25
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                  I have waited for this album for a long time and when I got it I was not disappointed in the least. Artful Dodger have got some amazing singers to guest on the album, even using unknown talents such as Lifford. This album is not just a UK Garage album, it contains so much variety from a more R&B sounding "Think About Me" (my favourite track) to a great 2-step Garage tune "What You Gonna Do?" onto the slightly drum and bass feel of "Woman Trouble - original version" Obviously fans of Artful Dodger should buy this album because I feel that the other songs on it are just as good as the singles, if not even better, but I also think that fans of R&B and Dance would like this album because of the variety of the styles used. This album is a must have for any music lover, there is enough on it for almost anyone to enjoy.

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              • Product Details

                Disc #1 Tracklisting
                1 Think About Me (feat. Michelle Escoffery)
                2 Re Re-wind (feat. Craig David)
                3 Outrageous (feat. Lynn Eden)
                4 Please Don't Turn Me On (feat. Lifford)
                5 Twentyfourseven (feat. Lifford)
                6 Something (feat. Lifford)
                7 Movin' Too Fast (feat. Romina Johnson) - New Version
                8 R U Ready (feat. MC Alistair)
                9 I Can't Give It Up (feat. Nadia)
                10 Woman Trouble (with Robbie Craig & feat. Craig David)
                11 What You Gonna Do? (feat. Craig David)
                12 We Should Be Together (feat. Nadia)
                13 Woman Trouble (with Robbie Craig & feat. Craig David) - Original Version - Bonus Track