Bodacious Beats

A few of these songs invoke De La Soul.

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

Antidote.

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

doses.