Friday, December 29, 2006

Jukebox Juicebox #24 - Remixamatosis

Various Artists “Future Retro” (2006)

I forget who coined the phrase ‘repetition celebrates and devalues’, but this is aptly applied to the music industry. Artists and songs are resurrected, repackaged, rereleased, reworked and remixed ad nauseum, The Beatles mash-up/megamix Love being one of the most recent examples. With downloads of all stripes likely to be eligible for the ‘singles’ chart in the near future, U2, Oasis, Westshite and McFly will likely be jostling for pole positions with the Fab Four, Elvis, Abba and Michael Jackson. The 1980s, which seems to have enjoyed a continual revival since, er, the 1990s will probably figure strongly in this. The fascination with the decade that taste arguably overlooked has resulted in countless contemporary updates of it’s memorable – and not so memorable – musical moments, the latest being the Future Retro compilation. Currently available in the UK on import only, the project is a labour of love for compiler ??? who commissioned all of the remixers on this album. On the whole, it’s a pretty consistent collection though inevitably there are a few tracks that miss the mark. Tiga’s mix of Depeche Mode’s Shake The Disease is halfway through before it starts to make an impression, whilst Jaded Alliance’s take on Erasure’s A Little Respect sounds like an ill-matched mash-up. Surprisingly, several tracks remain faithful to their origins: The Crystal Method speed up New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle, losing some of the key hooks in the process, but without undermining the main melody; Infusion’s similar handling of The Walk by The Cure is even more effective. The latter part of the album contains some real gems. Devo’s Girl U Want is roughened up by Black Light Odyssey whilst obscurity Boy by Book Of Love (which I admit I’ve never heard of) benefits from a beefy “rockstar mix” by the equally unknown DJ Irene (presumably not the Home And Away character moonlighting on the wheels of steel). Adam Freeland transforms B-Movie’s Nowhere Girl into a guitar dub dirge that echoes U.N.K.L.E.’s Unreal, but the best is saved for last with the unexpected yet obvious pairing of Morrissey and Sparks. Moz’s debut solo single Suedehead gains an epic stature, with chopped up vocals laid over sweeping strings. A perfect close to an imperfect but worthwhile compilation.

Tracklisting: 1. The Cure: The Walk (infusion mix) / 2. Yazoo: Situation (richard x remix) / 3. Echo & The Bunnymen: Lips Like Sugar (way out west remix edit) / 4. INXS: Need You Tonight (static revenger mix edit) / 5. Depeche Mode: Shake The Disease (tiga remix) / 6. Erasure: A Little Respect (jaded alliance 'electrospect' remix) / 7. Howard Jones: New Song (peter black & hardrock striker mix edit) / 8. Alphaville: Forever Young (hamel album mix) / 9. New Order: Bizarre Love Triangle (the crystal method extended mix)/ 10. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel: White Lines (Don't Don't Do It) (elite force mix) / 11. Devo: Girl U Want (black light odyssey mix) / 12. B-Movie: Nowhere Girl (adam freeland mix) / 13. Book Of Love: Boy (dj irene rockstar mix) / 14. Morrissey: Suedehead (sparks remix)

Shirley Bassey “Diamonds Are Forever…The Remix Album” (2000)

On the surface, a project that seems completely unnecessary. That is, until you realise that this album followed hot on the heels of the Welsh diva’s collaboration with Propellerheads on History Repeating, which became both a theme tune (Channel 4’s So Graham Norton) and a chart hit. Unsurprisingly, Propellerheads reappear here, with Goldfinger repeating their then-successful formula of funky beats and wah-wah guitar. Groove Armada and Nightmares On Wax also play to type, the latter to particularly good effect on Easy Thing To Do. Some tracks miss the point entirely, notably the dreadful comedy cut-up of Big Spender, but Kenny Dope’s drum-driven reworking of The Doors’ Light My Fire perfectly complements Bassey’s belting vocals. Given it’s inconsistency, it’s advisable to either pick this up cheaply as I did or download key tracks. Either way, don’t overlook it altogether.

Tracklisting: 1. Where Do I Begin (awayteam mix) / 2. Goldfinger (propellerheads mix) / 3. Light My Fire (kenny dope remix) / 4. Diamonds Are Forever (mantronik 007 mix) / 5. Easy Thing To Do (nightmares on wax) / 6. Never Never Never (groove armada mix) / 7. Big Spender (wild oscar mix) / 8. Spinning Wheel (dj spinna remix) / 9. Light My Fire (twelftree’s lady mix) / 10. If You Go Away (dj skymoo mix by moloko/rob brydon)

Carl Douglas “Kung Fu Fighting Remixes (Dub Drenched Soundscapes)” (2003)

…And if the Shirley Bassey remix album seemed unnecessary, then what the heck does one make of this? Douglas’ early 1970s disco track is not one that immediately suggests a relationship to dub and in truth, not all of the artists involved strictly adhere to that principle. The frankly bizarre concept of stretching this single track over 16 remixes (17, counting the hidden a capella track) and 80 minutes also means that it’s nigh on impossible to listen to the end result as an album in it’s own right. Anyone who has previously bought dub remix compilations on the Select Cuts or Echo Beach labels will find the usual suspects here: Rob Smith, Dreadzone, Don Letts/Dan Donovan, Kid Loco; however, it’s the lesser known acts that impress, notably G-rizo, Pole and Dubbelstandart. The Ruts’ Andy Gill delivers a funked up but essentially unchanged version of the original whilst Audio Active take the trakc to it’s logical (ludicrous?) extreme. It’d be nice to think that the songwriters – Carl Douglas and kitsch producer Biddu – will benefit from further royalties as a result of this album. However, given it’s limited appeal, I wouldn’t recommend that they break out the bubbly just yet.

Tracklisting: 1. Kung Fu Fighting (noiseshaper rmx) / 2. (dreadzone rmx) / 3. (belleville shaolin rmx by kid loco) / 4. (rob smith’s kung fu skanking rmx) / 5. (adrian sherwood’s on-usound rmx) / 6. (uptone rmx) / 7. (audio active rmx) / 8. (g-rizo rmx) / 9. (pole rmx) / 10. (don letts dub cartel rmx by dan donovan) / 11. (shaolin rmx by the strike boys) / 12. (karl möstl rmx) / 13. (dubbelstandart rmx) / 14. (salz rmx) / 15. (dave ruffy/mark wallis rmx) / 16. (rmx by the name of seeed) / 17. (g-rizo acapella) [hidden track]

Visit Venus “The Endless Bummer Rmx Appendix” (1999)

One of the consequences of a ubiquitous remix culture is that it’s possible to own tracks but have no idea what the original version sounded like. This is a case in point, the result of a trawl through the ‘5 for £16’ shelf at Plastic Wax Records in Bristol. I have no idea who Visit Venus are, or what they sound like but, looking at the artists involved, figured it was worth shelling out a few quid for. As it happens, it turned out to be another one of those serendipitous musical purchases. Rae & Christian kick off proceedings with a typical funky breakbeat mix of the charmingly titled Space Nazis Must Die. The opening bars of For A Few Euros More are reminiscent of Adam & The Ants’ similarly Western-inspired The Magnificent Five, before Carsten Meyer aka Erobique takes it back to late 80s Chicago house. There are three remixes of Planet of the Breaks: Matthew Herbert’s mix actually sounds a bit like Slam in places, whilst Jazzanova’s ‘mix of two halves’ with languid lounge beats during the former, welded to an uptempo jazzy latter more characteristic; my favourite of the three is omar santana’s electro edit, with hip hop beats, computer game vocals and ominous synth strings. Another highlight is Jimpster’s Hurt Of A Nerd, a funky, bass-driven number with some 1970s inspired flute and strings. Closing track Kinski Disko Fox Machine starts off like a Transglobal Underground track, with Eastern beats and driving bassline, before reverting to the more typical Groove Armada sound. And, just when you think it’s all over, there’s an extra tucked away at the end. Leading off with some hilariously inept rapping, there is a brief acoustic/vocal reprise of For A Few Euros More, with sci-fi samples from The Big Tilt thrown in for good measure. An hour or so’s worth of great tunes, with several surprises, make this a great album to hunt down on eBay or, better, in your local secondhand record store. And maybe I’ll get around to checking out Visit Venus one day too…

Tracklisting: 1. Space Nazis Must Die (rae & christian rmx) / 2. For A Few Euros More (erobique dance mix) / 3. Planet of the Breaks (herbert remix) / 4. Planet Of The Breaks (jazzanova remix) / 5. Children Of The Rave Solution (visited by: funkstörung) / 6. Planet of the Breaks (omar santana edit) / 7. The Big Tilt (dmx krew rmx) / 8. 144.000 (runaways rmx) / 9. The Big Tilt (dj koze rmx) / 10. Hurt Of A Nerd (jimpster rmx) / 11. Kinski Disko Fox Machine (groove armada rmx) / 12. For A Few Euros More (reprise) [hidden track]

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