src="http://www.nowtoronto.com/images/cr itpick.gif" height="20" width="20">IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS RHYTHM (Soul Jazz) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Propulsive rhythm has always been at the heart of Soul Jazz's insightful compilations, so it makes perfect sense that the London label would eventually turn back to some of the funkiest beats ever to come out of England. In The Beginning There Was Rhythm flashes back to the peculiar years immediately following punk, when young Brits began to be inspired by reggae, American disco and, most importantly, pioneering European electro. The lurching funk rhythms of A Certain Ratio's Knife Slits Water, The Pop Group's She Is Beyond Good And Evil and the Slits' title track are unsettling fusions between punk energy and dance-floor-friendly beats, and the occasional goth overtone turns up. It's groundbreaking stuff, but hasn't aged particularly well. More natural and still fresh-sounding are 23 Skidoo's hiphop- and dub-affected Coup, Cabaret Voltaire's Sluggin Fer Jesus and the Human League's Being Boiled, which is better than anything the Beta Band have managed yet.