Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jukebox Juicebox #9

Goldfrapp "Ride A White Horse"
I've found it difficult to warm to Goldfrapp's latest material: I enjoyed the radical change from "Felt Mountain" to "Black Cherry", but still feel that "Supernature" has done little more than refine the electro-meets-glam rock of their previous album, albeit with arguably greater commercial success. Following on from "Ooh La La" and "Number 1", "Ride A White Horse" is an obvious choice for single. However, it's the remixes that provide the most enjoyment. On the 2-track CD, the DFA provide a dirty rework of "Slide In", the muddy-sounding beats complementing Alison Goldfrapp's affected vocals. The maxi-CD provides four mixes, the best being Serge Santiago's Re-Edit and the "Disco Whores Dub" by Francois Kervorkian and Eric Kupper. The ubiquitous Ewan Pearson provides the 15 minute + "Disco Odyssey Parts 1+2", combining a vocal and dub mix in the old tradition. I enjoy Pearson's mixes, but don't understand quite why his remix work is so acclaimed. Like his previous efforts for The Chemical Brothers, Depeche Mode and Goldfrapp, "Ride A White Horse" is pepped up with a club-friendly beat for an extended workout but Pearson has not particularly taken the song in a new direction. I'm immediately reminded of the 1980s extended 12" mixes by Julian Mendelsohn, Barbiero & Thomspon and even Francois Kervorkian himself. Download a few of the recommended remixes, or stick with the album if you prefer unadulterated Goldfrapp, otherwise skip this single.

Mew "Why Are You Looking Grave?"
The largely unappealing sleeve designs of their records detract from the lush sounds of Mew. On the strength of this single alone, it's like the slacker/grunge US rock scene of the late 1980s/early 1990s never died, a point made more obvious by the guest vocals from Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis on the opening album version. This 'collector's edition' CD perhaps takes things a little too far by compiling seven versions of the same song (nine if you count the additional studio and live videos). There are a number of variations, from alternative and live versions, to a demo recorded in the band's kitchen and another take played on their tour bus, but the majority of these are surplus to requirements. The sole remix, by ambient noiseniks Mogwai, singly makes this purchase worthwhile, retaining Mascis' lethargic singing and stretching it out over a swirling wash of sound. This CD provides great value for money, but you'll never be able to listen to it more than once in a single sitting - a four track EP would have been more than ample.

Cornershop "Wop the Groove"
Cornershop return with a new single featuring Rowetta, ex-Happy Mondays backing singer and, more recently, near-miss on the UK version of TV talent show "Pop Idol". Sadly, her powerful lungs are put to little use on this track, where she repeats the title in varying degrees of agitation. Accompanying track "The Dixons D90 Series" sees frontman Tjinder reciting what sounds like the manufacturer's warnings of possible faults with the eponymous tape product, over a sparse toy keyboard backing. Pointless instrumental versions of both tracks round off the EP. Cornershop seem to be wilfully avoiding repeating the commercial success of "Brimful of Asha", but these sound more like throwaway B-sides from the same period rather than a groundbreaking new direction.

The Magic Numbers "I See You, You See Me"
Another lovely offering from the dual brother-sister band, pairing the original album version with a strong live performance from last year's UK tour, and offered as a glorious double 7" single in red and white coloured vinyl respectively. The B-sides deliver two BBC Radio session cover versions, with varying success. Their close-harmonied take on The Smiths' "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" is a mistake from the start, but the acoustic version of Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" is a winner.
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