Trackhunter's World Cup Allstar XI
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
There have been countless World Cup anthems but when it comes down to tracks that could cut it on a dancefloor and capture the beautiful game, which ones would get into a World Cup starting XI? We put on our thinking caps at Trackhunter, kicked a few balls over the hedge and came up with these eleven starters.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month, then you cannot fail to have missed that the biggest football tournament in the world has been taking place in Qatar. Even if you have missed the action on the pitch, you will have no doubt been aware of the controversy which has followed since FIFA awarded the hosting of the trophy to Qatar back in 2010. In the subsequent 12 years there has been much debate as to whether this World Cup, as with the previous one in Russia in 2018 should have been given the hosting rights. Naturally this puts players and fans in a very awkward position as the allure of the World Cup is incredibly strong, I have followed it avidly since the spectacle of the 1978 edition. Most honest football fans will agree that FIFA got this wrong and it has caused angst for many of those involved directly or as spectators. Nevertheless the World Cup has a powerful legacy and one that brings out a mixture of emotions from euphoria to sadness. Those feelings are often intrinsic to music, from the tub thumping stadium anthems to the theme music from classic World Cups, perhaps none so more powerful than Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma from Italia 90. What about music for the dance floor? Given that football and dance music’s closest coming together was when a bunch of football hooligans discovered ecstasy in the late 1980s, it is fair to say there is not an awful lot of credible football, dance hybrids. In fact the number of decent football related songs would struggle to fill a couple of compilation albums. Nevertheless, we have picked our own starting XI to get the post match party started. So hopefully when you read this, England will still be in the World Cup and succumb to the power of France in the quarter finals.
F.I.F.A - House Of World Cup (Dub Mix) (Unknown) Retro
In goal we have picked a little known tune from back in the day which came out on the UK Retro label. Retro started life as a High NRG and House label before moving onto soul and funk in the 1990s. When this track actually dropped is open to conjecture but it very much feels like a circa 1990 tune with the production and samples. Italo piano driven breakbeats over a four to the floor with dry football samples claiming ‘the power of a World Cup’ whilst the line ‘I’ve got the Power’ from Jocelyn Brown’s ‘Love’s Gonna Get You’ as made famous by Snap’s massive hit ‘The Power’ drops throughout.
Depth Charge - Goal (1990) Vinyl Solution
Picking an old school four-four-two formation and lining up the first of our two defenders on the wing is the rather special tribute to football by the genius that is J Saul Kane. Overlooking John Motson’s dulcet tones for that of the more excitable commentary from Brazil. Goal transcends football, it is a staggeringly great sample-based record and one that rarely left my record box in the 1990s. The tension of the commentator ratchets up as they name check the legendary Carlos Alberto among other players from circa 1970 World Cup and Pelé’s genius. The track is almost a montage of beats and samples with Latin percussion and piano that envelops into a carnival of sound. An incredible track, that does not lack any of the infectious impact it had in 1991.
Dennis Alcapone - World Cup Football (1981) Empire Records
Another record that resides within my personal collection, is Dennis Alcapone’s World Cup Football. One of the two steadfast centre backs in our team, this again starts with a World Cup commentary before Alcapone comes in with the rhythmic chant “Intelligent an' skillful football control, World Cup football to rock your soul”. Name checks for Cyrille Regis and Garth Crooks who were both overlooked by the then England Manager Ron Greenwood for the 1982 World Cup despite both players being at the height of their careers. As the lyric “Hear me now, hear me now, Ron Greenwood, Forget your pride an' your prejudice, And carry in di man Cyrille Regis” captures.
Scientist - Scientist Win The World Cup (1982) Greensleeves
The first album in our line up and the second part of our Reggae central defence as we pick the legendary Scientist to bolster the back four. Ten killer tracks were captured as ‘five dangerous matches’ on each side of the record. Dangerous Match 1 sets the bar really high with a heavy, spaced out, sub aquatic vibes, from there on you are hooked. Proper dub with one of the most eye-catching sleeves you will ever come across. The sleeve depicts The Scientist smashing the ball into the back of the England net whilst holding back a player not too dissimilar to Kevin Keegan. Recorded at Channel One’s recording studio and mixed at King Tubby’s, this heavyweight release is hard to get past. Later iterations of this release dropped Scientist’s name for Junjo with additional vocal cuts added to the updated compilation.
Various - Pitch Control (1998) Dust 2 Dust Records
Big Beat, like Indie, had enough swagger about it to find a mutual connection with football and Massimo Bonaddio’s Dust 2 Dust Records captured this in the Pitch Control compilation. The aptly titled Pitch Control was an eleven track release which featured notable names of that scene such as Meat Katie and Surreal Madrid. Taking a leaf out of Depth Charge’s book, Kings Of The Wild Frontier kicks off with high-energy South American football commentary before an uptempo breakbeat kicks in to make a glancing run down the wing. Most of the compilation might be past its best, but there are occasional moments of genius and KOTWF’s Mexico is one such example. Making up the last of the four at the back, expect moments of skill and defiance alongside unpredictability and the occasional own goal.
Pop Will Eat Itself - Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina (1990) RCA
The rag-tag bunch of psychedelic punk-popsters might not be the first name on any dance fan’s team sheet but with Cicciolina they provide some much needed eccentric flair in the centre of the midfield. Whilst much of the nation’s youth were being besotted by the indie hybrid outputs from the likes of Primal Scream and The Happy Mondays, PWEL were ploughing their own furrow in time for Italia 90. Whilst it is hard not to overlook PWEL’s tongue in cheek persona, especially given this is a homage to one of Italy’s best known porn stars who got involved in politics, it is indeed a fine track. Like Gazza in the centre of England’s 1990 midfield, there was an unquantifiable element to his inclusion. Cicciolina comes complete with football and Brazilian ‘Goaaal’ samples. Utter midfield general business.
Various - Musica De Futebol
More flair in the central midfield with a compilation that has stood the test of time. Compiled and released by Mr Bongo in 2002 it brings together the cool sounds from the greatest football nation on the planet. Contributions from Jorge Ben, Tamba Trio and Elis Regina among many others make this an enjoyable listen. It’s another one in my music collection and even features Edson Arantes do Nascimento AKA Pelé in a duet with Regina. Arguably the greatest footballer of all time resides wonderfully on the front sleeve, guitar in one hand, football by his side - coolness personified.
Loris Ceroni - Lady Football (1979) Strjx Records
We could not complete our midfield without a contribution from an Italian artist and Loris Ceroni’s cheeky Lady Football release. The title of his album and released as a single, the track is a desirable Euro Disco number which is archetypal of that time. Expect tight shorts, flamboyant moves and curling crosses to the back post.
Dario G - Carnaval De Paris (1998) Eternal
One of the steadfast members of the team and perhaps the most commercially viable. Dario G’s Carnaval De Paris is synonymous with the 1998 World Cup not just for its stadium pumping anthemic sound but also for the striking video that came with it as groups of young kids adorned in paint depicting a variety of nations who competed in that classic tournament. A lively and fast paced winger who has the ability to stir up the fans of both home and away teams.
New Order - Word in Motion (1990) Factory
For the first of our two up front we go classic English and a track that might not have made it onto many proper dancefloors at the time, but there is no doubt of its pedigree. New Order’s dance connection might be largely connected to The Hacienda and a flourish of late 80s tracks, but World in Motion is pure euphoria to any England fan. This is the Gary Linekar of the team, honest, dependable and has brought joy to countless people. We cannot mention this tune without the John Barnes rap and his smooth moves. If this goes to penalties, then we think New Order and England have it covered this time.
Depth Charge - Romario (1998) D.C Recordings
Completing our strike force is the only track to name check a player (Romário de Souza Fária) in the title and a second contribution by J Saul Kane. Coming seven years after Goal, this is a homage to a player who is often overlooked in favour of other notable Brazilian strikers. More urgent than Goal to match Romario’s blistering pace and threat to countless international teams. Once again featuring a mashup of commentaries and chants, Latin influences and a discordant piano with that signature heavy Depth Charge sound.
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