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The Crystal Method - Vegas (Deluxe Edition)

Released on Geffen Records, 9/18/2007

I can’t recall exactly when I first heard The Crystal Method. Maybe it was the Gap khakis commercial nearly ten years ago. Maybe it was a track from a movie soundtrack. Maybe it was some other product endorsement. But, I do remember The Crystal Method made a big impression on me and in short order I picked up Vegas and played it so many times that I wore the disc out. How ironic that the name of the band is a play on words for one of the most addictive illicit substances out there; the tracks on Vegas could easily be described as addictive.

It was listening to The Crystal Method that turned me on to Underworld, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, UNKLE, and numerous other electronic acts. While it’s been ten years since the original release of Vegas, giving Vegas - Deluxe Edition a quick spin is a stark reminder of just how well crafted the original was in 1997. The tracks on this album are simply timeless.

The first track that strikes a chord immediately is the nearly iconic "Busy Child". Arguably, it was this track that really broke things open for The Crystal Method. Khakis were suddenly cool again after Gap paired this infectious track with one of their more distinctive ads. Not too surprisingly, this brilliant drum and synthesizer infused track took nearly nine months for The Crystal Method to refine and polish. It was time well spent as "Busy Child" still stands up nicely.

"Keep Hope Alive" is a similarly iconic TCM track with a haunting, mysterious, slow burning synthesizer opening that gradually builds and builds to a feverish intensity. This one has appeared in a ridiculous number of action films including The Replacement Killers, Romeo Must Die, and Extreme Ops. Okay, not exactly the best films in the world, but arguably the inclusion of "Keep Hope Alive" made them a bit more palatable. This track is also omnipresent in virtually every spinning, cardio-dance, or any other cardio-based fitness class. It’s up-tempo, powerful, and unforgettable.

While the two aforementioned tracks are the most recognizable and have received the most attention in films, ads, and videogames, Vegas’ remaining tracks aren’t slouches either. "Trip Like I Do" is a spookier, slower groove replete with dark synthesizer beats and some interesting answering machine samples and additional lyrics sampled from the Jim Henson classic film The Dark Crystal. "Comin’ Back" is another slightly slower track with seductive vocals contributed by the siren-esque Trixie Reiss. This one likely has the most vocal backing of any of the tracks on Vegas. Trixie had the perfect vocals to accompany TCM’s dark, haunting sounds. Her voice is similarly dark, sultry, and seductive.

Aside from the classic ten tracks from the original Vegas, there’s a bonus disc that makes this a "deluxe edition". The additional disc is little more than a compilation of remixes by various artists of the classic tracks that defined the original album. The most notable remix is Paul Oakenfold’s version of "Busy Child" which is passable, but pales in comparison to the original version. You also get a nice live version of "Vapor Trail" and a couple videos, but the additional disc is not worth throwing down the extra cash if you already own the original Vegas (or have the option of simply buying the original version).

Despite the paltry offerings of the "additional disc", Vegas - Deluxe Edition is a wonderful look back at a defining electronic album that has hardly aged a day in ten years. Vegas is one of a handful of albums that really defined the electronic sound and it’s still a pleasure to listen to. The Crystal Method has yet to put forth anything approaching the consistency, quality, and potency of Vegas, but if that is the only thing The Crystal Method is remembered for, that’s not doing too badly.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars