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LEFTFIELD - A Final Hit   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Tuesday, 18 October 2005
The Best Of?

Some five years after their discreet, barely noticed split, Leftfield eschew the usual glory with a superfluous compilation. Whilst offering abundant value (a DVD of all their promos accompanies it), “A Final Hit” is neither necessary, nor definitive.

 

Leftfield never really had the kind of personality that distinguished them from their peers, producing excellent, but somewhat characterless music : it’s no surprise that by far their biggest hit was helmed by Johnny Rotten, a man with enough personality to fill a stadium by himself.

 

In fact, “A Final Hit” sounds more like a compilation of vocalists remixed by the same people, and whilst it is bursting with some classics – “Open Up”, “Release The Pressure”, “Phat Planet” – it, more often than not, fails to sound like a greatest hits. Which is perhaps where Leftfields weakness lay : they never had the definitive breakthrough hit, nor were able to distinguish themselves enough from their contemporaries.

 

Stripped of their guest vocalists, Leftfield (like Death In Vegas) were an oddly bland unit, who were neither distinctive enough in a production or melodic sense to be viewed as anything other than a faceless dance band. Though their work – from the sublime and beautiful “Not Forgotten” to the final gasps of “Dusted” – carries with a  distinctly urban sense of rhythm and immaculate production, it never gets inside your head the way that a great song does. I defy you to remember what “Original” sounds like. And you can’t sing “Phat Planet”, even though it has probably the best bassline since “White Lines”.

 

But when they weren’t not busy being forgettably brilliant, they produced some absolute classics with a phalanx of vocalists : “Afrika Shox” prowls like a hungry tiger, “Open Up” encourages a mass arson attack on Hollywood and is better than the sum total of Neil Young’s career. Their reputation (sometimes undeserved, if their 2000 festival shows were any indication) as a legendary live act bears no fruit here.

 

As a primer “A Final Hit” is an excellent starter – but if you investigate the two albums from a scant, unprolific career (“Leftism” and the underperforming “Rhythm & Stealth”) – you may never play it again.

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