With B-Sides as strong as any A-Side and Rarities that could have been Hits, Thunderball digs deep into the past to prove that even the hidden corners of their catalog are bulletproof. These rare gems by Steve Raskin, Sid Barcelona and Rob Myers have never seen a wide release, having coming out previously only on vinyl and/or compilations and are just now seeing the light of day!
Leading the lineup is an early, unreleased treasure “If Knowledge Is Power” featuring Akil Dasan on vocals. Known as the front man for acid jazz pioneers US3, and for his appearances on Thunderball’s “Stereo Tonic” and Fort Knox Five’s “Blowing Up the Spot,” Akil brings his deft delivery and consciousness to this hip-hop, jazz, drum’n’bass monster. The other unreleased track of the collection happens to be a recent recording. Tracked after the release of 12 Mile High, their last studio album, “Bubbles and Bossa” is a drum’n’bossa toe-tapper that puts your feet in the sand and your ear to the wind as Miss Johnna M’s vocals transport you to the bubbly side of life.
10 inch Vinyl was always the go-to format for a Thunderball single back in the day: cool, collectable, and oh so hard-to-find. Here are some of the B-sides and rarities that appear as digital files for the first time ever: “The Cobra Connection,” a rudeboy-influenced stomper with vocals by Hutchy, who toasts his way over tough beats, afro-percussion, and a stabbing horn line. “The Getaway,” a ‘70s spy film chase scene infused with hypnotic synths, soulful Hammonds and a groovin’ bass line. “Stereo Tonic (Thunderball Stereo Beats Mix)” a percussion-driven, trip-hop workout of Thunderball’s sitar-laced anthem “Stereo Tonic” that flexes on the dancefloor… And speaking of Sitars, another welcome entry highlighting the playing of Rob Myers (Thievery Corporation “Lebanese Blonde”) is “Welcome Back Cooper,” (a collaboration with psychedelic labelmates Liftoff) that fuses ‘60s psychedelia to big beats, frenetic tablas and mod horns and its B-Side the “Liftoff Mini Mix,” a retro, Summer of Love throwback, full of acid-drenched melodies and verbed-out tambourines.
One of the earliest hits for Thunderball was “Heart of the Hustler” featuring Mustafa Akbar, the “Thunderball Poor Hand Dub” is a classic, dub-inspired version of the original. “Don’t Stop,” the earliest B-side on the compilation, is taken from the very first Thunderball 12 inch vinyl, it’s a classic 1997 drum’n’bass roller filled with familiar samples, timestretched vocals, big builds and chopped up beats. “Selector featuring Hutchy” later appeared on Ambassadors of Style, but was first self-released by Thunderball alongside this rare “Drive By” version which flips the original drum’n’bass track into a quintessential ESL Music trip-hop tune with a dub bassline, Nightmares On Wax style beats and Hutchy’s patois stylings.
Closing out this impenetrable collection is “Untouchable” featuring See-I. This track was the beginning of a relationship between See-I and the members of Thunderball that lives to this day. Original Thievery Corporation front men, Rootz and Zee, set the mood with sharp shooting lyrics and teflon reggae vocals atop a relentless dub bassline that creates a lost classic.
Featuring 16 tracks which range from downtempo and trip-hop to drum’n’bass and breakbeat, this compilation brings these lost Thunderball classics together for the first time. Like kevlar, these tracks are bulletproof, untouchable!
supported by 7 fans who also own “Bulletproof: B-Sides and Rarities”
What is is even possible to say about this album? It's not an album, it's 60 songs, which in my book makes it at least 5 CDs worth of music in old money. And what music! Just stick this on shuffle at your house party and get on with it really. I listened to this in the office and kept surreptitiously busting a move at my workstation. You can't not dance to these tunes. Leo Stableford