Clifford Price, better known as Goldie is one of electronic music’s most important artists. Very few artists have achieved what Goldie did in the 90’s, helping invent drum & bass and finding mainstream success in the process. Goldie was Britain’s first superstar produced by the jungle and break-beat movement.
Goldie has always been larger than life, gold teeth, b-boy swagger and a tough guy head who could match the larger than life scores of the hip hop stars America produced. His giant ambition took jungle and drum & bass from the UK underground to the world.
It was Goldie’s “Timeless” album in 1995 that signaled the transition of Drum and Bass from underground to mainstream. Timeless shot straight into the album charts at number seven, which was a first for a drum ‘n’ bass record. The album fused the break-beats and basslines common in jungle with orchestral textures and soulful female vocals. The album’s title track was a 21-minute symphonic piece. ‘Inner City Life’ from that album sold over 15,000 copies on vinyl.
Goldie hadn’t released an album since 2007, as Rufige Kru. After an extremely long hiatus, Goldie is back with “The Journey Man”. The album is Goldie’s first full-length in 19 years and a follow up to his Saturnz Return work in 1998. ‘The Journey Man’ is a two hour collection that sounds thoughtful and inspired.
Goldie calls ‘The Journey Man,’ the big brother of ‘Timeless’ and we can clearly see why. The album is an indication that it’s re-connecting with an old friend. It is a collection that looks into the past which is now improvised, touching on all the threads that have run through his work thus far and creating new sounds with them, while also delivering a fresh twist on the euphoric drum ‘n’ bass club anthems that he’ll always be known for.
One can sense the evident common thread connected to his previous work with ‘Timeless’ in the opener ‘Horizons’ with vocals from Terri Walker and arrangements from Swindle, ‘Horizons’ touches on the restorative power of resetting your life and starting over anew, all while never losing sight of your dreams and being thankful for what you have.
Next up ‘Prism’, our favourite from the album, is Goldie at his best. The 1.30 long intro takes you into journey with shimmering synths and delves into stripped back break with staccato stabs. Yet another splendid piece of The Journey Man puzzle.
‘Mountains’ echoes the moody rhythms of Goldie’s trip-hop influences while showcasing Naomi Pryor’s stunning, wistful vocals while “Castaway” is a festive funk track melding signature horns with distinctive garage rhythms.
‘I Adore You’, the defining song from the album features an inspired performance by Natalie Williams. The video follows a dark and heartfelt narrative featuring This Is England and Boardwalk Empire star Stephen Graham as a prisoner seeing his daughter.
‘I Think Of You’ is an affectionate snapshot of the legendary Metalheadz Sunday Sessions club nights, with crackling drum ‘n’ bass beats amplified by smoky vocals from Goldie’s wife, Mika Wassenaar Price.
“Tu Viens Avec Moi?,” is a cover of a Pat Metheny song with inspired guitar playing and interplay between instruments. The distinctive crossover that made Goldie a worldwide superstar in the ’90s, is evident in the tune.
The centerpiece of the album is the emotive elegance of ‘Redemption,’. Goldie’s albums have always featured a progressive rock centerpiece. It starts out like “Inner City Life”, one of the greatest tunes by Goldie.
‘Redemption’ is a dynamic 20-minute masterpiece that samples ‘Hi-Tech Jazz’ by legendary Detroit techno innovators Underground Resistance. The tune, and Goldie himself, is highly indebted to the urban music of Detroit, and this track is his way of celebrating that influential sound while rightfully tipping his hat to the original birthplace of techno.
The album is certainly a nostalgia trip in many ways, with Goldie paying tribute to his influences as well as his own past, but even as he samples elements from some of his earlier recordings, he isn’t directly going down the same roads. It’s easy to see the similarities between ‘The Journey Man’ and ‘Timeless’. Both put drum & bass on a pedestal above the dance floor and combine the genre with other kinds of music.
‘The Journey Man’ doesn’t quite rack up the heights of ‘Timeless’, it’s still a respectable effort, and its best moments confirm the man’s legendary status. It’s the work of an originator who still has a special touch and someone who remains a hero and an inspirational figure.