Best Ofs are curious beasts. Seeking to sum up an artist’s career with one CD can be tricky at the best of times, even moreso when the artist in question is eclectic Belfast DJ/musician David Holmes, a man who crosses genres like other musicians change strings. That said, the 16-track The Dogs Are Parading does an admirable job of summing up the many faces of Holmer, from his emergence as a fresh-faced dance-punk with 1995’s This Film’s Crap, Let’s Slash The Seats, to 2008’s reflective The Holy Pictures, and all the chameleon-like manoeuvres in between.
From the 1996 classic jazz/breakbeat fusion of -My Mate Paul’ to giddy rush of 2008’s -I Heard Wonders’, complete with Holmes’ own Kevin Shields vocal impression, the funk noir of -Rodney Yates’ to the soulful -(I Wish I Had A) Wooden Heart’ and -Sugarman’, taken from his Free Association project, Holmes is the antithesis of the stereotypical serious bedroom DJ through his willingness to have fun with sound.
If there is one criticism of Holmes’ work, it’s that some of his mid-tempo compositions too easily fade into the realm of background music, tracks like -Jackson Johnson’, -Theme/IMC’ and even -Hey Lisa’, despite the David Arnold-composed swelling strings. On the other hand, 2000’s ’69 Police’ sounds as vital and joyous today as it did a decade ago, a spiritual sibling of Primal Scream’s -Loaded’, while we defy anyone to listen to -Gritty Shaker’ without feeling the urge to dance like nobody’s watching. Lone new track, -The Girlfriend Experience’ is a trancey affair, with lots of ambient synths giving it a hint of Brian Eno, without the weirdness.
There’s also a second CD of remixes, which is worth the price of admission for the Arab Strap take on Holmer’s Serge Gainsbourg homage, -Don’t Die Just Yet’: The Velvet Underground meets Spacemen 3.
So, despite our wariness of greatest hits compilations, The Dogs Are Parading gets a ringing endorsement as the perfect introduction to one of this island’s virtuoso talents. Two thumbs up.