St Germain – Tourist (Blue Note/EMI) CD REVIEW

LOOKING AT IT from a 2012 perspective, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would compare this hasty concoction to the real thing. Jazz, that is.
Even at the dawn of the century, ‘Rose Rouse’, the “I want you to get together, put your haaaaands together one time” song got tired/old really, really quickly, because it’s groove was so repetitive and despite the tootling trumpet and sizzling hi-hat that screamed “we’re cool, we’re playing jazz”, it wasn’t.
The project belonged to a chap called Ludovic Navarre, and I hate the conceit of ‘conductor’, but I guess that’s better than claiming credit for the whole kit and caboodle. Oh, he does? ‘All tracks written, produced and mixed by…’ Well, it means diddly squat when all he’s doing is rancid house music with samples and some utterly redundant sax and trumpet “soloing” (note, it hardly warrants the descriptive ‘improvisation’).
Of course the best thing about ‘Rose Rouse’ is Marlena Shaw’s vocal sample, and the best thing about ‘Montego Bay Spleen’, the second track, is the sample of Ernest Ranglin’s guitar. At least this track starts out with a more sonically satisfying bit of synthy funk, but that all dissipates quickly. Ranglin’s pickin’ is great, but I’d rather hear it on a Ranglin record.
By track three, I’m almost comatose. ‘So Flute’ is – surprise! – a flute-dominated vamp with electric piano chords and housey grooves and not much else. ‘Land Of…’, like the previous tune, soon outstays its welcome – they’re commonly around seven or eight minutes and they doosh on and on forever – but at least this one lets a sinewy dub-bass riff weave its way through the mix towards the end. That’s a rare pleasure.
‘Latin Note’ is interminable doof-doof, while ‘Sure Thing’ is a predictable attempt at housing up the blues, with a sample of Riley Winston at its core. And so on. ‘Pont Des Arts’ is a painfully cosmopolitan house boom-chick-a-boom, while ‘La Goutte D’or’ at least boasts some enjoyable percussion, and (the end is in sight!) ‘What You Think About…’ finally boosts up the bass for what is otherwise a fairly vapid jazzy groove.
What on earth possessed anyone to consider releasing a remastered version of this 12 short years after the original issue? It probably sounds marginally better than first time round, but it’s hardly audiophile quality in the first place; while it’s clean and clear enough, and maybe just a tad bright in the top end, there’s a certain boxiness to the bass.
What was the question? Do you need this record? No, you don’t need this record. GARY STEEL
Sound = 3.5/5
Music = 2.5/5

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