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REVIEW: Sex, Drugs and HIV – Various Artists

The Sex, Drugs and HIV project was started by Mat Sargent back in 1995 to raise funds and awareness for the charities The Terrance Higgins Trust, Release, Rape Crisis and Cancer Research. Almost 20 years later and the album is finally finished and available to the public. And what a great body of work it is.

Let me start by saying that this is a phenomenal album that rightly deserves a place on any serious music fans shelf. From the first track on disc 1, the title track itself ‘Sex, Drugs & HIV’, which is a country/hillbilly drawl about not sharing needles you are taken on a musical journey that twists and changes genres constantly. And that’s one of the great things about this album, at has chosen each musician for each song, meaning you could have a metal guitarist working on a reggae track with musicians that they have never worked with before. The fact that there isn’t one single disasterous track on the album is a testament to Mat’s skill as both a writer and a producer.

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Mat and Howard marks

To list every individual track would simply take too long and to be honest its hard to find an addition on the album that I don’t like. I think for myself the highlights are ‘Road to Morocco’  which is a rocky eastern influenced instrumental track, Hashish another instrumental track (which is a great driving tune as I’ve discovered), Tortured Genius which features vocals from the late X-Ray Specs lead singer Poly Styrene.

The first track on the second CD ‘Easy Target’ is a SKA track featuring some of the major names in SKA and Reggae such as the late Judge Dread, The Selectors Pauline Black, Roddy Radiation of the Specials fame, Rhoda Dakar and many more. As a long time SKA fan this is probably my favourite track on the double album.

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Mat and Charlie Harper

‘Pain/Mercy’ is another great addition to the album and features the unlikely pairing of Afrika Bambaataa and Paul Roony from Vice Squad, on a funk track that wouldn’t be out of place on a the Jackie Brown soundtrack except of course for the fact that it’s about about the creation of HIV for Biological warefare.

As well as two CDs of some of the best music I’ve heard in a while, Sex, Drugs & HIV also includes a DVD with over 170 hours of footage about the making of the album, which is a phenomenal amount of great material.Whats more the DVD contains a video for each track on the album which all join up together. Keep a look out as Mat’s making 30 1 hour documentaries in the near future.

All in all ‘Sex, Drugs and HIV’ get a cool 9/10 as it’s a seriously awesome compilation that you’ll keep coming back to time and time again. It’s well worth the £20 price tag and it’s for some great causes which as far as I’m concerned makes it a bargain.

Rating: 9/10

Sex Drugs and HIV is available to buy now from Amazon

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