Dimitri from Paris | Return to the Playboy Mansion (Defected Records)

dmitri-return.jpgThe mix itself is smooth as silk, pairing forgotten 1970s disco relics with more current house tracks so seamlessly that you’d be hard-pressed to pick the vintage of most of the songs here.

 

 

The Turkish-born, French-based DJ known as Dimitri from Paris has been rocking dance clubs for nearly a quarter century, but it took until the release of his first solo album Sacrebleu in 1996 (and its single "Sacre Francais," whose hilarious video was a longtime MTV2 favorite) for his signature house/disco style to catch on in the States. After DJing so many sexy parties in French nightclubs night after night, it seemed an obvious pairing for Dimitri to team up with the ultimate sexy partier, Hugh Hefner, crafting a pair of mixes—2000’s A Night at the Playboy Mansion and its 2002 follow-up After the Playboy Mansion—to capture the sexy, retro cool of the Playboy brand and its permanently pajama-clad figurehead.

Return to the Playboy Mansion aims to serve dual purposes, supplying the soundtrack not only for the party itself, but for the sensual one-on-one after-parties that are sure to follow. The first disc, labeled "Partytime," kicks the party into high gear with Jamiroquai’s "Cosmic Girl," then follows it with 70 or so solid minutes of jams certain to get groove thangs shaking. The mix itself is smooth as silk, pairing forgotten 1970s disco relics with more current house tracks so seamlessly that you’d be hard-pressed to pick the vintage of most of the songs here. The seamlessness can work to the album’s detriment, with song at times blending together into a faceless mush. Just when the album starts to lose a bit too much steam at the halfway point, Dimitri gives it a swift kick in the tuchus with his own stellar remix of the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terell classic "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" and its killer follow-up, "The Cure & The Cause" by house duo Fish Go Deep. Things get a little more adventurous toward the end with the Italian jazz of Mario Biondi and the High Five Quintet’s "This Is What You Are" before wrapping up with the Teddy Pendergrass slow jam "Come Go With Me."

That plea for some nighttime company sets the stage for Return‘s second disc "Sexytime," packed with slow jams to keep the home fires burning. The disc opens strong with two of R&B’s most legendary lover-men (Pendergrass again, then Barry White), but where "Partytime" held a sustained mood and beat throughout, "Sexytime" is a bit more scattershot. For every great unearthed nugget like Pino d’Angio’s Serge Gainsbourg-esque French ditty "Un Po’ d’Uva un Liquore" or Blue Feather’s bass-driven instrumental "Let’s Funk Tonight," there are songs dripping with painfully dated 1980s production like Change’s "You Are My Melody" and Amii Stewart’s ultra-sappy "Friends," whose cheesy synth lines stretch on for nearly seven excruciating minutes. The songs on "Sexytime" tend to simply butt up against each other rather than flow evenly, making it a less compelling listen overall than the first disc. Still, house-heads will probably find plenty to like on both discs, and Return to the Playboy Mansion more than fulfills its promise of delivering sexy party grooves. B- | Jason Green

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