Friday, December 25, 2009

2 Unlimited - Do What's Good For Me (Original TC Review)

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Popular Records: Cat. # PR2 3008
Released 1996

Track List:
1. Do What's Good For Me (Edit) (3:49)
2. Do What's Good For Me (Extended) (6:03)
3. Do What's Good For Me (Alex Party Remix) (5:06)
4. Do What's Good For Me (X-Out Remix) (5:22)
5. Do What's Good For Me (Aural Pleasure Mix)(8:58)
6. Club Megamix (9:34)


(2010 Update:)
I didn't realize it at the time, but Dobre & Jamez would go on to see some success as Trancesetters. So now you know.)



IN BRIEF: 2 Unlimited go old school.

1996 was a year of transition for many following EDM. Most of the sounds that had defined the early rave era had begun to fade away as newer, improved gear and software replaced it. Genres that had proved immensely popular before were growing stagnant as ideas continuously were recycled with great redundancy, causing many fans of certain niches to search out different styles of music.

Probably the style most heavily affected was euro house. Just a scant two years before, the music was on top of the EDM world, and even making an impact on general music as well in typically anti-electronic regions. However, as with all things that catch onto the mainstream, many imitators began to flood the market as well. Every week there were new acts featuring some bird on choruses, some bloke on rap verses, and producers hiding in their studios providing the musical backdrop. Where innovative takes on the sound once kept it afloat, ideas seemed to dry up towards the end of 1995, and completely burn right out in '96.

Possibly affected the most by this trend was euro powerhouse 2 Unlimited. Not only was this group one of the original acts to bring the euro sound to giant heights of popularity, they also managed to keep themselves relevant in the following years, knocking down almost all of their competition with their always catchy riffs and excellent rhythms -those that did manage to have bigger hit singles than the group never managed to have as many hits as 2 Unlimited did. The Dutch euro act was, without a doubt, one of the best.

Unfortunately, even they could not stop the coming change in popular tastes. Trance music was on her way to overtaking euro as the dominant EDM genre of choice (although the media would attempt the electronica take-over before that) and there would be no place for quirky raps, catchy melodies, and belting divas (at least initially -it seems everything but the raps were eventually integrated into trance anyways, but that’s another topic). What was 2 Unlimited to do?

Go back to their roots, it would seem.

Do What's Good For Me sees Phil Wilde and Jean-Paul de Coster taking away the once glossy polish of their previous albums work and relying on the house sounds that had remained nestled in the underground clubs while euro held the limelight. Sure enough, you have a bouncier rhythm and that high octave string note during the minor builds and fills. Of interesting note, however, is the main riff. Like many of their earlier sounds, this one has an unproduced tone to it. Sure, the actual sound used is quite typical of many early 90's house songs but, even with the most piddling of stereos, you can hear a distinctive distortion to it, especially when it pitches up to higher tones. I'm glad to hear that edge Wilde and de Coster held over their contemporaries with unique sounds for their hooks is still evident even at this late stage of euro's game.

Ray and Anita provide some lyrics that seem to indicate they were also aware of the changing climate of dance music. It's no secret that around this time they were expressing interest in leaving the group to pursue their own careers. I guess this was their subtle way of letting their fans know that they were going to “do what's good for [them]”, and perhaps for the 2 Unlimited legacy as well by going out on top of their game like so many of the best pop acts in history (The Beatles, The Police, etc.) before they fade off into irrelevance and obscurity.

Or maybe I'm reading too deeply into it and Do What's Good For Me really is just a good old fashioned 'take matters into my own hands' 90s rallying call. We may never know.

Visnadi returns on this single to give the track another one of his sexy Alex Party mixes. The structure remains the same but the rhythm makes use of snaps instead of snares to give it a little more punch. And by replacing the main riff with a more subdued take using a deep organ, this mix grooves along nicely.

As usual, Andy 'X-Out' Janssens provides a more dancefloor friendly take as well, doing away with most of the main ingredients to use one of his typically peppier riffs this time with big organ chords.

The Aural Pleasure Mix (done by Dobre & Jamez) is something of a surprise. The way a bubbly bass line slowly emerges as Anita's "If it's good enough" continuously loops with slight echoes is unlike any 2 Unlimited remix or song I've ever heard. Minimal looping layers of percussion and pitch bending acid gradually appear as well and what do you know! We actually have ourselves a trance track here (classic trance that is). Once all the building elements peak midway through, all but the rhythm recedes to allow a deep synth reverb to slide about for a while until all the elements are progressively built back up again. The song peaks once more and fades off with voice echoes and the barest of rhythm. While not anything groundbreaking, the Aural Pleasure Mix certainly strays from the 2 Unlimited norm and would definitely turn heads of trainspotters.

Included on this particular single is a club megamix of 2 Unlimited hits. While there have been countless of these done (heck, it was a 2 Unlimited megamix that initially got me more interested in the group beyond just a few hits), this one easily stands out from the pack.

Why? Simply put, the versions of the songs used here are mostly remixes instead of the better known ones. Get Ready For This gets treated to a more refined house sound by capitalizing on the dreamy chorus; Twilight Zone replaces the familiar Wooo! with a gentler aaah.; Tribal Dance remains the same but the sexier Alex Party Mix of Here I Go gets used instead; The Real Thing's energetic take on the famous Bach organs is retained, mixing quite nicely into the wonderful Automatic Breakbeat of No Limit, capping the megamix off with apocalyptic choirs. All in all, it's a fun collection.

As for the rest of this single, it's a decent enough effort. Had the group not split shortly after this, it would have been interesting to see where their music would have taken them if they followed this more non-mainstream route.

Sadly, the 2 Unlimited legacy was nearing its end after a hugely successful four year run. Their time had passed and, if anything, Do What's Good For Me's back-to-basics mentality is as fitting a way to come full circle.


Score: 8/10


Written by Sykonee. Originally published 2005 for TranceCritic.com. © All rights reserved.

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