The label that fueled raves with "hardcore" dance music in the Nineties and has served as home to artists like the xx, Vampire Weekend, Basement Jaxx and Thom Yorke in the 21st century is celebrating its silver anniversary with a compilation of some of its most vital recordings.
Pay Close Attention will be available as a four-LP box set, CD or download, but it's the set's configuration that makes it unique: The first part chronicles the label's successes with music made for DJs, while the second contains hits by artists ranging from the Prodigy to Adele that demonstrate the label's pop appeal. The comp will come out on August 25th, but the label has launched an interactive website early that contains previously unreleased videos and visual from throughout the label's history.
"XL Recordings is a collaborative endeavor, and many people have contributed to its evolution," label owner Richard Russell said in a statement. "In the song 'Out of Space', Liam Howlett of the Prodigy provided a blueprint when he sampled Kool Keith of Ultramagnetic MC's rapping these words: 'Pay Close Attention.' And whilst XL has never had any outside ownership, Gil Scott-Heron advised me not to even consider XL an 'independent,' because everything is connected.... There is no unifying genre; hopefully the thread of originality is evident though."
Like the comp, the Pay Close Attention website splits the label's history in two, with the first part focusing on "underground music made for DJs." Scrolling through "The Roots of XL" reveals videos for each of the songs on the first disc, beginning with SL2's 1991 single "DJs Take Control." The second part is more interactive, though, as clicking an artist's name displays a timeline and quotes from the artist as well as other surprises.
The Adele timeline eventually reveals footage of one of her earliest performances. Tyler, the Creator's contains a sub-timeline chronicling Odd Future's first European tour, including a video titled "Tyler Takes Europe." The White Stripes' contains pictures of the dingy first venue they ever played as well as the candy-coated makeover XL gave its London HQ after signing the band. Part Two also quizzically contains a "Part One" timeline that details the label's history from its first release, 2 in Rhythm's "We Want Funk," onward.
Here is the Pay Close Attention track list:
1. SL2, "DJs Take Control"
2. The Prodigy, "Out of Space"
3. Awesome 3, "Don't Go (Kicks Like a Mule Mix)"
4. Liquid, "Sweet Harmony"
5. Jonny L, "Piper"
6. Roy Davis Jr. featuring Peven Everett, "Gabriel (Live Garage Version)"
7. Dem 2, "Destiny"
8. Nu-Birth, "Anytime"
9. Basement Jaxx, "Jump N'Shout"
10. Dizzee Rascal, "I Luv U"
11. Wiley, "Igloo"
12. Various Production, "Hater"
13. Giggs, "Talkin the Hardest"
14. SBTRKT, "Wildfire (featuring Little Dragon)"
15. Jamie xx, "All Under One Roof Raving"
1. The Prodigy, "Firestarter"
2. Peaches, "Fuck the Pain Away"
3. The White Stripes, "Seven Nation Army"
4. Devendra Banhart, "I Feel Just Like a Child"
5. Ratatat, "Seventeen Years"
6. M.I.A., "Paper Planes"
7. Thom Yorke, "The Eraser"
8. Gil Scott-Heron, "New York Is Killing Me"
9. Radiohead, "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi"
10. Tyler, The Creator, "Yonkers"
11. The Horrors, "Sea Within A Sea"
12. Jai Paul, "BTSTU (demo)"
13. Bobby Womack, "Please Forgive My Heart"
14. The xx, "Angels"
15. Sampha, "Too Much"
16. Vampire "Weekend, Step"
17. King Krule, "Easy Easy"
18. Adele, "Rolling in the Deep"