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Rhythm & Views

Paul Oakenfold

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British producer/DJ Paul Oakenfold has always received more credit than he has deserved. His productions--most of which feature the assistance of co-producers--fill the travel crates and hard drives of DJs the world 'round, but they noticeably lack color and originality. And his DJ gigs pack clubbers in, but they have shown very little evolution in the past 10 years. If his remixes, original songs and DJ sets sound like they feature the same beats, structures, songs and genre touchstones, that's because they do.

This is evidenced on his first hits compilation. But Oakenfold is nothing if not savvy; on Greatest Hits and Remixes, he chooses a diverse sampling of productions and remixes that show his range without sonically unspooling. It would normally be a stretch to include Justin Timberlake, Afrika Bambaataa and Radiohead on the same album, but Oakenfold has always possessed a knack for mixing (and remixing) dissimilar artists within a cohesive, dynamic musical narrative.

Though Oakenfold features so many of his previous peak-time numbers here, somehow, he programs his mix--beat-matched and all--so the emotional ebbs and flows feel natural, while never loading any particular section with too many songs from the same era. He begins with gentler tempos and saves the serotonin-spiking anthems for the end. Miraculously, the mix's character and momentum transcend the monochromatic nature of the individual songs (which still represent his best studio work).

There are few things more disappointing than a poorly presented album of great singles. Oakenfold earns some credit for managing the reverse: a cohesive and satisfying sequence of largely mediocre productions.

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