Best Of collections aren’t a musical necessity. They’re entirely avoidable, but there comes a time in every big act’s lifespan where the record label looks at the sales figures, calculates the ETA of the next album and concludes that there’s some easy money to be made. Thus, we have Daft Punk’s Musique Vol. 1: 1993 - 2005, a collection of fifteen tracks from their first twelve years together.
With most of the songs in chronological order, Musique Vol. 1 is the sound of Thomas Bangalter and (the superbly named) Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo going from underground house producers to zillion-selling dance icons in the blink of an eye, before going a bit Fatboy Slim and releasing later material which matched neither the quality of their original sound or the marketability of their updated one. Indeed, it's possible to pinpoint the exact moment that Daft Punk stopped being small-time music fans and started thinking record sales, as 'Rollin' & Scratchin'' finishes and the ultra-commercial, abruptly-edited version of super-hit 'One More Time'' kicks in. The change in direction is almost palpable as the repetitive house beats are replaced by catchy Basement Jaxx-esque hooks, the material from their standout debut album Homework thus left behind in favour of 2001‘s follow-up Discovery. It is in some ways surprising, then, that the tracks from the unit-shifting second album number only three ('One More Time'_, 'Harder Better Faster Stronger' and 'Something About Us'), yet no less than six are lifted from Homework.
Maybe it is an acknowledgement of the significantly higher technical quality of an album which, back in 1997, turned a nation onto the French house duo, or how 'Da Funk' and 'Around The World' in particular still stand out, with their pounding drum loops, funked-up bass and insistent hooks still able to pack out any decent club dancefloor just as effectively as they did nine years ago. The slightly less commercial but just-as-house 'Musique', 'Alive' and the Utah Saints-esque 'Revolution 909' all make an appearance, making up for in craft what they lacked in commercial appeal. The sixth track to be taken from Homework, although the version on Musique Vol. 1 is a live version taken from the accompanying limited edition DVD, is 'Rollin’ & Scratchin’'. Indeed, whilst the main bulk of Musique Vol. 1 is ideal for anyone tempted by Daft Punk’s previous singles who hasn’t committed to buying the albums, the “true fans” will probably have more joy with the aforementioned CD/DVD pack, containing eight music videos including 'Da Funk' and the choreographical brilliance of 'Around The World' plus a couple of extras.
There are a few tracks you won’t be hearing, though. Given the inclusion of three passable Daft Punk remixes of unremarkable songs by Scott Groove, Ian Pooley and Gabrielle, the competition to make it onto the final tracklist cannot have been incredibly fierce, yet still mini-hits 'Burnin’', 'Aerodynamic' and 'Digital Love' are all absent, whilst the weaker single 'Human After All' from the album of the same name still remains. All told, if you already own Daft Punk‘s three studio albums then the standard release of Musique Vol. 1 probably won’t do a lot for you, but for anyone else wanting to peek below Daft Punk’s increasingly glossy exterior at the grime that once lurked beneath, or even if you’re just a fan of decent dance music, this is your chance.
7ben marwood's Score