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A wave of excitement ripples across the wide-eyed crowd at London's Cargo as they anticipate the entrance of the special live guest. The stage has been transformed into a scene from a hotel lobby - a bar is propped to one side, holding an ice bucket and a bottle of whiskey. A chez-longue sits alongside a coffee table heaving under the weight of a towering bunch of white lilies. A leather armchair sits patiently waiting for its occupier to arrive. The crowd is getting restless. A mix of perspiration and expectation chokes the atmosphere as the distinctive filthy beats of 'Grab My Shaft' pierce the air. He's coming. The king of cabaret electro is about to take the stage. And he appears, a tanned slim figure of a man, in his late 50s, dressed in a crisp white suit and pink tie with a smile and oozing charisma that could light up a damp cardboard box.
Louie Austen has been around for longer than you may realise. Now almost 60, Louie has leaped from thriving as an enigmatic lobby crooner at Vienna's Hilton Hotel to one of the most exhilarating performers dance music currently has to offer, now performing 150 times a year across the globe - from intimate filthy electro clubs through to 10,000 capacity arenas - where he performs with his full band, 'Da Family'.
This new direction for Louie was a welcomed one. Louie's enviable youthful free spirit and passion for life has found its true home with a whole new audience - being around young people is what keeps him alive. "People my own age are boring! They just sit there looking old with no life in them whatsoever!" declares Louie, knocking back a whiskey on ice at London's Great Eastern Hotel, his favourite spot in the City. "The younger generation are my friends, we have a mutual understanding, we have more in common."
Since the release of his first album 'Consequences' on Cheap Records in 1999, Louie has released two more albums on Germany's highly acclaimed Kitty Yo! imprint - 'Only Tonight' and 'Easy Love'. Hits include the now almost legendary grinding floor bomb 'Grab My Shaft', featuring the queen of slut-grunge Peaches, and the addictive warm club smash, 'Hoping' and the Latino-inspired 'Amore'.
The time has come in Louie's career to release a 'best of' album. And Tirk Records in east London is the perfect home. Tirk has curated the album in such as way as to unearth some hidden gems as well as reintroducing the classics that all Louie fans know and love. 'Hear My Song: the Best Of Louie Austen' opens with the title track - a curious slice of downtempo broken beat. Then the delicious all-consuming jazz-tinged grooves of 'Drowning' oozes in, followed by the uptempo joy of 'Easy Love', 'You Did Not Know' and dancefloor killers 'Music' and 'Grab My Shaft'. The album then takes a Latino side-step with 'One Night In Rio' and the explosive 'Amore' - we defy you not to dance around the front room in your pants to that one. The warmth of 'Hoping' then makes an appearance to mark the album's latter journey, which then takes a more reflective melancholy tip with 'Remember' and 'Feel Me', ending on late night lounge bar classic, 'When Will It All End'. But it hasn't ended - when you think it's all over, there may just be a surprise waiting for you.
Louie Austen. From Rat Pack crooner to the saviour of Electro. We take a bow.
'Hear My Song: The Best Of Louie Austen' out on Tirk Records now.