Electrospective: Like Calvin Harris? Then you’ll love Audio Bullys’ “Ego War”

Elektro joins EMI in celebrating its Electrospective series, which pays homage to electronic music’s long, storied history. We have combed through EMI’s massive 600-plus album catalog to pick out the best electronic music from years past; our hand-picked recommendations are sure to open your eyes to artists and tracks that inspired the stars of today’s scene.

With the recent release of 18 Months, his third album, Calvin Harris is riding high. The album’s myriad collaborations and pop-inflected hooks have earned him well-deserved mainstream success. But, in our eyes, Harris is at his best when he’s not only producing tracks but singing on them as well; his unique accent adds extra punch to already stellar tracks. His prior album titles – I Created Disco and Ready For The Weekend – make his ethos as an artist crystal-clear: Harris creates youthful, fun tracks that are also meticulously produced and draw influences from decades gone by. He’s at his cheekiest and most carefree on I Created Disco, sing-rapping on “Merrymaking At My Place” and overemphasizing his accent over the retro beat of “Colours.” Harris has continued to experiment since, collaborating with Dizzee Rascal on Weekend‘s “Dance Wiv Me” and pushing himself vocally on the hits we all know and love, like “Feel So Close” and “Flashback.”

Listening to Audio Bullys’ 2003 album Ego War, it’s hard not to hear shades of Harris coming through. The album was the first release by British duo Tom Dinsdale and Simon Franks, with the former making the beats and the latter lending his vocals. Like Harris, Dinsdale drew inspiration from various times and places (80s house, Detroit techno, British hip-hop); and like Harris, Franks let his thick British accent dominate both his singing and rapping.

The duo has the same sonic range on Ego War alone that Harris does throughout his catalog; yes, Harris experimented with edgier beats on 18 Months‘ “Mansion” and the trip-hoppy “Green Valley,” but the Audio Bullys get enjoyably weird on “Snake” and “The Tyson Shuffle” while maintaining more traditional pop and dance sensibilities elsewhere on Ego War. “I Go To Your House” has a smooth disco groove, while “Hit The Ceiling” has an infectious energetic, driving house sound – the latter could easily be mistaken for a Calvin Harris track by a casual fan. For an album made in 2003, well before dance music’s U.S. surge, its tracks would fit right into any current DJ set (and the vocals on “We Don’t Care” are way overdue for a resurrection, as they’d work perfectly with all of mainstream EDM’s must-play instrumentals.)

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