"At the end of the day, when I look at all the inspirations over the years, Mr Scruff is right up there at the very top... from his outstanding selections and DJ sets to his impeccable attention to detail and production. And what a joy to listen to Trouser Jazz again... it's stood the test of time rather well actually. 'Come Alive (feat. Niko),' 'Shrimp,' 'Ug,' 'Vibrate (feat. Braintax)' - LOWLIFE 4EVA!! - all personal highlights and still sounding great." - Gilles Peterson
Mr. Scruff will release a special 20th anniversary edition of his classic album Trouser Jazz via Ninja Tune. The deluxe 2LP features blue / red vinyl discs, iconic artwork by Mr. Scruff himself alongside Airside and boasts an "infinity peelable trouser sticker" on the cover - whatever one of those is!
Originally released in 2002, Trouser Jazz was the hotly anticipated follow-up to the Manchester-based DJ, producer, record collector and cartoonist's barnstorming Ninja Tune debut, Keep It Unreal (1999). As a DJ, Andy Carthy aka Mr. Scruff plays across the board, moving between soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, reggae, Latin, African, ska, disco, house, electro, breaks, soundtracks and loads more. As a producer, he makes music that draws on these influences, with a large dose of cheek and good humour. His cartoon drawings illustrate gig flyers, posters, record sleeves, T-shirts and occasionally accompany him at gigs as live animated visuals.
Trouser Jazz - recorded largely at Carthy's home studio with engineer Danny Evans - neatly encapsulated Scruff's ethos, his joie de vivre and his inimitable combination of tight-knit funk, expansive sonics and dance-floor dynamite.
"The album is a real mixture of moods and tempos, just like my DJ sets, twisting my influences and inspirations into different shapes," explains Andy. "It was also the time when I started to develop my low-end addiction, as tracks such as 'Ug' and 'Shelf Wobbler' testify. The collaborations were enjoyable, too, from Bernard Moss' one-take flute that Seaming & Sneaky built a track around on 'Valley of the Sausages,' Braintax's medieval working-class themed rap on 'Vibrate,' Sneaky's bass and Andy Kingslow's abrasive synth solo on 'Shrimp' (which was the first of many tracks we did together), Andy K again on 'Champion Nibble,' Niko's glorious & touching vocals on 'Come Alive' and Seaming's otherworldly vocals on 'Beyond.' When I listen back to Trouser Jazz, I can feel the fun and energy from those studio sessions."
Everyone, including Pitchfork, delighted in the record's joyful eclecticism: "Trouser Jazz is quite possibly the answer to all of your sugar-fueled Saturday morning disco prayers, churning out one chocolate-frosted cereal box prize after another and bringing down the house with an inspired mix of rubbery funk, hipster soul and gleefully contorted, krush groovin' hip-hop."
It's tough to pick out highlights in a set of consistently top-drawer productions, but "Shrimp" is an inspired fusion of Mizell Brothers cool and Roger Troutman's squelchy funk; "Come Alive" is a triumphant, soulful jaunt blessed with Niko's vocal and rooted by the most hypnotic bassline on the album. Meanwhile, the outright dumb "Ug" is "a giant teddy bear of a track... the subcutaneous bellow of the bassline, the Flat Eric keyboard squawks and slithering hi-hat snaps propel it to the top of the heap" (Pitchfork). Undoubtedly it was the aforementioned characteristics that made "Ug" a stone-cold backroom classic.