Monday, August 28, 2006

Jukebox Juicebox #22 - Singles & Jingles Pt. 1

Thom Yorke “Harrowdown Hill”
Reviews of Yorke’s first solo album The Eraser focused quite heavily on this track and made much of it’s narrative based on scientist Dr. David Kelly’s apparent suicide at the eponymous venue. I haven’t heard the album, but Harrowdown Hill is worthy of the positive reviews that have preceded it’s single release. I first heard it on music TV, slumped drunkenly on my sofa in the wee hour. In retrospect, this is the ideal combination of medium, physical state and timing required to appreciate the song. Judging by the EP’s aural palette, Yorke’s been listening to David Byrne and Brian Eno’s My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, not mention a slew of goth-influenced mid-1980s indie bands, and contemporaries like Kid606 and Two Lone Swordsmen. CD single ‘B-side’ The Drunkk Machine is less structured, both lyrically and musically but, like Harrowdown Hill, is underpinned by an infectiously funky bassline that breaks out of the swirl of electronica. Harrowdown Hill’s lyrics have been discussed and dissected many times over already. Suffice to say that Yorke’s writing is such that the song has a clear topicality, but skilful phrasing ensures a timeless appeal. If anything, the extended mix improves on the original, providing a spaciousness that perversely accentuates the feeling of claustrophobia and isolation. What a shame that the BBC canned Top Of The Pops – it would have been great to see Thom Yorke, sandwiched between Shakira and Beyonce, performing Harrowdown Hill to a bemused audience.

Tracklisting: 1. Harrowdown Hill (original version) / 2. The Drunkk Machine / 3. Harrowdown Hill (extended mix)

Amp Fiddler “Right Where You Are”
And now for some light relief, courtesy of Joseph “Amp” Fiddler. I’ll ‘fess up straight away that I’m largely unfamiliar with Herr Fiddler’s back catalogue and bought this on the strength of the pair of mixes by Tom Middleton, aka Cosmos. What can I say about Right Where You Are? Bland, MOR, chart-clogging R’n’B which thankfully on this single is an edit of the potentially coma- inducing full length album version. The hitherto unknown (to me at least) Australian duo 2am Productions provide a more upbeat mix which, to all intents and purposes, could be a Black Eyed Peas cast-off. Of the two Tom Middleton reworks the Biz Remix is unquestionably the superior, ditching most of the vocals whilst retaining the trademark Cosmos sound. Hot Chip have a similar disdain for Amp Fiddler’s vocal performance, chopping and changing the tempo underneath a melody that sounds uncannily like early Inner City, yet is strangely all the better for it.

Tracklisting: 1. Right Where You Are (edit) / 2. (2am remix) / 3. (tom middleton lub remix) / 4. (tom middleton biz remix) / 5. (hot chip remix)

Coldcut featuring Robert Owens “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”
Single number four from Coldcut’s Sound Mirrors albums sees the duo team up with Robert Owens to rework a classic 1970s number by Joe South. The album version and radio edit included here call to mind the string laden sounds of Massive Attack, the Now Voyager remix of You Got The Love by The Source featuring Candi Staton and, closer to home, their early 1990s cover of Yves Montand’s / Nat King Cole’s Autumn Leaves. Typically, there’s a diverse selection of mixes available on the CD. Tiga’s mix recalls his darker dancehall moments, with an urgent yet simultaneously unsettling beat. Tom Belton tries for a more uptempo, hands in the air feel (or, more specifically, Tom Middleton’s Cosmos sound), but doesn’t quite pull it off. Timo Garcia + The Cheshire Catz keep up the bpms, though retain the melancholy of Robert Owen’s outstanding vocals. However, only Henrik Schwarz really manages to enhance the Coldcut original, creating a sweeping epic that just builds and builds. The edit featured here serves as a teaser for the majesty of the full, nine minute version included on the 12” single, so maybe you need to buy or download that too. Four singles in, and there’s no sign that Coldcut are milking it.

Tracklisting: 1. Walk A Mile In My Shoes (radio edit) / 2. (tiga mix) / 3. (henrik schwarz edit) / 4. (tom belton’s ssl edit) / 5. (timo garcia + the cheshire catz remix) / 6. (album version)

The Flaming Lips “The W.A.N.D.”
The Will Always Negates Defeat, to give the song it’s full title, is possibly as angry as The Flaming Lips can get. Referring to “those fanatical minds…telling us all it’s them who’s in charge”, Wayne Coyne’s narrator defiantly responds that “we’ve got the power now, motherfuckers; that’s where it belongs”. An aggressive, dirty sounding bassline, plus prog-rock percussion, handclaps and sci-fi keyboard swoops all serve to propel the song forward, providing a great foil for Coyne’s cracked delivery and falsetto backing vocals. As you might expect from a Goldfrapp remix, the track is given an ethereal equality, with Alison’s additional vocals sharing equal room with Coyne’s. Nicking the rhythm from Associates’ early 1980s classic White Car In Germany, the remix is structured around the opening verse, and takes the song in an interesting direction, complementing rather than surpassing the original.

Tracklisting: 1. The W.A.N.D. (album version) / 2. (supernaturalistic goldfrapp remix)

Thom Yorke's The Eraser album
Amp Fiddler
Robert Owens on MySpace
The Flaming Lips

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