The Wiseguys come to America with some serious big beat credentials. They're
long-term members of the illustrious Wall of Sound family that's given us the
Propellerheads and Les Rythmes Digitales, and they recently scored a number two hit in the
UK with "Ooh La La" (RealAudio excerpt), one of those cheeky dance-floor anthems that's
impossible to dislike.
The Wiseguys' marriage of club credibility and dumb celebration perfectly embodies the
"big beat" ethos and is used to great effect on The Antidote. Other similarly good-natured cuts include "Start the
Commotion" (almost a beat-for-beat remake of "Ooh La La"), "Cowboy 78" (RealAudio excerpt) and the
brief opener "Re-Introduction."
But what audiences often forget about big beat, and particularly about the Wall
of Sound acts, is the extent to which hip-hop has influenced their lives. Theo
Keating a.k.a. Touche, a.k.a. the one and only member of the Wiseguys
was one of many British kids raised on the music of Run D.M.C. and LL
Cool J in the early '80s. If this is not immediately apparent from the boombox
simplicity of his backbeats, it certainly will be from the rap throughout The
The Wiseguys' vocals are mainly provided by NYC's Shootyz Groove members Sense
Live, Season and J Nice. Tracks like "The Grabbing Hands," "We Be The Crew" and
"Who the Hell?" (RealAudio excerpt) are reminiscent of the D.A.I.S.Y.-Age heyday of De La Soul and
the Jungle Brothers, when rap strived to be both pleasant to listen to and
intellectually challenging. But while some of the soft samples used underneath
these raps sit comfortably alongside the kitschy nature of the Wiseguys' more
danceable cuts, the overwhelming sincerity of the vocal contributions is in dark
contrast to the frivolous nature
of the cuts that surround it.
This dichotomy is compounded by what I feel compelled to call filler material
easy-listening, cinematic collages like "Face the Flames" and "Au Pair
Girls" that would work well as B-sides but stretch the album toward the
uncomfortably long 70-minute mark. There can be no doubt as to the Wiseguys'
musical capabilities and even flashes of pure genius, but there is an argument
to be made that Touche's music is best enjoyed in smaller, more compatible