Playing on and on: 3 of the best from Basement Jaxx

As one of the world’s pre-eminent dance acts of the last 20 years Basement Jaxx have produced one gloriously catchy hit after another. They’ve also given us some pretty amazing videos and in this post we take a look at three of our favourites…

Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe met in 1994 in a pub in the borough of Clapham, in south-west London and bonded over a love of house music. Ratcliffe had already accumulated enough hardware for a small studio, and the duo quickly set about making tunes together, subsequently setting up their own label, Atlantic Jaxx, on which to release them. They also started their own DJ nights, under the name Basement Jaxx, in a series of venues around London.

This eventually evolved in to a monthly night called Rooty (which also became the name of their second lp) which saw them bring together all the musical elements – house, disco, samba, electro, even pop – that have become the make-up of a sound that has seen them score chart hits across the globe. The real magic comes from the fact that they make music that is accessible but not commercial. Like contemporaries Orbital and The Chemical Brothers, they’ve managed to retain their integrity in the club world whilst becoming household names. Their best music works just as well pumping out of your television set as it does out of a club sound system at 3am on a Saturday morning.

Not only that, but they’ve also delivered a series of wonderfully inventive and entertaining videos over the years, and whilst we could probably do a whole series of posts covering them we thought instead we would take a look at three of our absolute favourites, beginning with…

Rendez-Vu (1999)

Directed by Evan Bernard, who has also worked with the likes ofby Moby, Green Day, and Slayer, this endearingly silly video is set in a Mexican town and is presented as a series of visible dreamscapes. Buxton plays a man who falls for a girl only to lose his hand (which is replaced with a record stylus) to the girl’s other lover, a masked spanish wrestler. Whilst the story is being relayed to the townsfolk via a guitarist both men gather their friends for amtown-centre showdown which takes the form of a game of paper-scissor-stone. Buxton wins the game and the girl. However, the whole thing turns out to be the dream of a dog…

The single, taken from their debut lp Remedy, is still their highest charting single reaching no.4 on the UK singles chart and topping the US dance charts.

 

Where’s Your Head At (2001)

Not just the most memorable video of their career, but also one of the best, well, ever. This slightly disconcerting tale of a record company guy who ends up in “the armpit of nowhere” to see the latest thing in pop music only to find out he’s trapped in a massive laboratory where mad scientists are creating musical monkey’s by swapping their brains, and faces, with those of musicians was one of those must-see videos that became as famous as the track itself. This was another top 10 hit for them, reaching no.9 in the UK and represents the art of music video making at its very best. Not only that but the tune itself continues to fill dancefloors and radio speakers the world over.

It bagged them two awards at the 11th Annual Music Video Production Awards, including Best Directorial Debut for Swedish film-makers Traktor, who have since gone on to become very hot property in the world of advertising as well as making videos with Madonna and The Prodigy.

 

 

Never Say Never feat. ETML (2014)

In recent years it seems the duo’s ability to regularly dent the charts has waned a bit, but that doesn’t mean their music has diminished in quality and although this slipped by largely un-noticed here in the UK it did manage to top the US dance charts, the fourth time they’ve done so.

It’s a shame this didn’t receive more attention because the video is a cracker, one of their best. A team of Japanese scientists at Jaxx Industries have dedicated themselves to solving a world crisis – the dying art of dancing. As the subtitles tell us ” 72% have stopped partaking in the art of dancing. And in 15 years, 98% of us will cease to dance”. The answer is TW3RK-BOT 1.0 a twerking robot, although quite how such a thing will save humanity from this dilemma is never explained. The sub-plot is centered around the heads of the corporation, and chief scientists Mr & Mrs Nakamitsu, and the latter’s condition that “we can’t have sex until this is finished”. 1312 days later, when their creation is twerking to their satisfaction she finally tells him “ok, now we can have sex” (this line was apparently changed from the more direct “now we can fuck” at the record company’s insistence). The TW3RK-BOT, with it’s self-lubricating Jaxx buttocks, is a smash and quickly sells out.

The great thing about this video, directed by Saman Kesh, is the very straight-up, almost deadpan manner in which it is delivered and also the way it taps in to the current fascination with robotics, as well as the perceived notion that the Japanese are sexually weird enough to actually build such a thing.

 

As I said before, Buxton and Ratcliffe haven’t recently been smashing the charts in the way they used to. However, as their hit Red Alert once told us “the music keeps on playing on and on” and as long as it does, and if they keep making such wonderful videos to go with it, we here at MVD will remain ardent fans.

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