R&B underachiever–turned–jazz crooner Natalie Cole caused a stink a few years back when she resurrected her dead daddy’s mellifluous voice for a “duet” that was part Hallmark card, part Rocky Horror. “Unforgettable,” indeed. So when Danish DJ Funkstar De Luxe manages to coerce Bob Dylan down from his crag to lend his horn of a voice—and nearly unassailable hipster status—to a house track, music lovers are once again faced with the question of fancy technology intruding on their beloved, pure art form.
De Luxe’s American debut, Keep on Moving (It’s Too Funky in Here), makes solid arguments for and against letting children play with samplers. For: the songs themselves—from Bob Marley, James Brown, Mary J. Blige, Joneses Grace and Tom—which De Luxe competently sets atop siss-siss-siss-ing house beats. Against: another 27-year-old with really good taste in music and a CD burner.
De Luxe handles most of the tunes sensibly, yet not reverently. His take on “All Along the Watchtower,” Dylan’s first approved sample ever, respects not only the original’s foreboding mood but also the troubadour’s meager vocal cords. (That little echo effect on the microphone helps.) And anyone who gets Grace Jones’s bumper-pulling chops to sound natural over a Casio is all right by me. On Tom Jones’s “She’s a Lady,” De Luxe leaves out the famous “whoa, whoa, whoa” part and keeps only the sound of Jones inhaling (“ha!”) before the delivery. He loops the “ha,” and before long the tic takes on a quirky life of its own. The whole number—like the album—sounds almost like something . . . new.