Record Review: Razormaid – Class-X Two

Razormaid Records | USP | CD | 1988 | CX-CD-02

Razormaid Records | USP | CD | 1988 | CX-CD-02

Various Artists: Razormaid Class-X Two USP CD [1988]

  1. Art of Noise – Beatbox [razormaid mix]
  2. Escape From New York – Save Our Love [razormaid mix]
  3. Blancmange – Blind Vision [razormaid mix]
  4. New Order – 5-6-8 [razormaid mix]
  5. Peter Godwin – Images Of Heaven [razormaid mix]
  6. Tom Tom Club – Wordy Rappinghood [razormaid mix]
  7. Dead Or Alive – ‘Youthquake’ medley
  8. Donna Summer – I Feel Love [razormaid mix]
  9. DAF – Leib Auf Den Ersten Blick [razormaid mix]
  10. Depeche Mode – A Question of Time [razormaid mix]
  11. Spandau Ballet – Communication [razormaid mix]

It looks like I’m on a remix compilation kick. Why not throw a curve ball into the mix with a volume of DJ subscription mixes? I first became aware of the Razormaid brand some time in the late 80s when Razormaid remixes by Joseph Watt began showing up on commercial singles. Then, as I was by that point getting into mail order catalogs for music buying, the original vinyl issues of these DJ mixes began to come closer to my grasp as well and I began to piece together the big picture. DJ remix services like Razormaid specialized in crafting new mixes for club DJs who were ever seeking the next exclusive remixes to differentiate themselves from the pack.

Over time, Razormaid mix mavens Art Maharg and Joseph Watt moved from tape splicing and graphic equalizers and fx boxes to getting their hands on label masters and their already high standard really took off. If you were like this Monk, the urge to collect certain groups was so strong, that once one had exhausted the commercial, foreign, and promo arenas, the last frontier was DJ subscription mixes. The latter were so named because the purchase of these discs required a subscription to the individual service [Razormaid, Art Of Mix, Disconet, et. al.] and entailed a license agreement that involved not reselling the product. But at the end of the day, it was impossible to stem the tide of DJ product into the gray market for resale. Civilians who might have inherited a DJ’s collection posthumously would certainly not know of such restrictions, and at the very least, this would have enhanced the flow.

While I have several Razormaid vinyl issues, the optimal thing to collect for me were their CDs. The Class-X series was tailor made for the Post-Punk Monk since it was a deliberately retro selection of the services early mixes from the period this blog primarily serves. I can’t remember where I got this disc. It might have been a record show or Goldmine ad. I can say that I probably didn’t pay more then $50 for it, which was at the low end of the spectrum.

The Art Of Noise mix was not radically different from the album mix of “Beat Box.” It’s the sort of remix that I’d have to A/B compare to spot the differences. I never really listened to the Escape From New York track until today, if you can believe that! This was because DJ subscription discs often had what was to my ears were unremarkable, also-ran technopop that might have never broken out of the gay disco cult ghetto and thus passed me by completely. “Save Our Love” is one such song, but when I did some cursory research on Escape From New York, I found that the band just a short time prior was known as Airstrip 1! Now, Airstrip 1 were a band I read about half a lifetime ago and have been looking for on wax ever since! I may have to rethink my position, unless someone can testify that Airstrip 1 really were the bomb, and Escape From New York showed the group attempting to sell out. Is there any data to be left in the comments on this issue?

“Blind Vision” was a single I used to have on a US promo 12″ from back in the day but I got rid of it because this was the least interesting Blancmange single ever, in my opinion. The Razormaid remix of it still has all of the traits of mediocrity that the original held in spades. New Order’s “4-5-6” will always have the rep of being an inferior re-write of “Blue Monday” and the mix here won’t change that.

Next came the reason why I had this CD from the beginning. The Razormaid mix of Peter Godwin’s “Images Of Heaven” was a mashup of the long 12″ version of “Images Of Heaven” and the alternate mix “Spoken Images” into a dramatically different and ultimately longer hybrid mix that offered the most frissons of pleasure that this overtly pleasurable song ultimately offered me. Sure, the EQ got a little dicey in the mix, but I was willing to look the other way as the mix represented the height of  ambition for analog remix technology. Godwin thought enough of it to license it in 1998 for his awesome “Images Of Heaven” compilation CD.

The Tom Tom Club mix of “Wordy Rappinghood” has has a nice, dubby remix with the rhythm guitar and bass right given a new prominence in the mix in the long intro/coda. I enjoy Dead Or Alive in digestible chunks of varying degree. I prefer their more melodic middle period from “Mad, Bad, And Dangerous To Know” through “Fan The Flame [PArt 1]” to the megamix taken here from “Youthquake.” Some tracks from “Youthquake” I can go the rest of my life without hearing ever again. The notion of an album condensed down to a 10 minute remix is one conceit of 80s club culture that has not aged too gracefully for me, and I could give this a pass, personally.

The same can be said for the Razormaid remix of Donna Summer’s seminal “I Feel Love.” Actually this is not the world-changing 1977 version which is still a thing of beauty and perfection that remains awe inspiring. What Razormaid have remixed instead, is the 1982 Patrick Cowley 15 minute remix which has been condensed to about half of its length here. The cow bells and whistles that Cowley added to what obviously was clinical autobahn perfection served only to undermine its timeless qualities; not unlike adding a flame job to a DeLorean!

The DAF cut is a good one from “Gold Und Leibe” but it’s not a track that I’m familiar with in its original form. One of these days, I need to get the Virgin DAF catalog and be done with it. The remix of Depeche Mode’s “A Question Of Time” doesn’t sound appreciably different from the Phil Harding mixes of that fantastic single. They may have just performed a re-edit of it rather than their full-on remix job.

Finally, the Spandau Ballet remix of “Communication” is a total winner for me in that like the Peter Godwin track, it is a mashup of two different remixes of the great single. It’s no secret that the 12″ at the time was essentially a great dub mix, but a dub mix never the less. The flow of the song was jettisoned for some fairly liberal dub effects. Meanwhile, fans of the LP/7″ version could bask in a dynamic pop song without a traditional extended version… until now. The Razormaid mix finally gives fans the ability to have their cake and eat it too, with a remix that contains the song while being extended and enhanced by dub mixology. By the time that they had mixed this cut, the tentative EQ balancing as on the Godwin track was effectively perfected.

At the end of the day, these remixes occasionally hit the heights, but the rest could run the full gamut from perfunctory and uninspired to adequate and mediocre, with the occasional track moving into the red zone. I can’t imagine paying big money for one of these collections, unless it had a remix that my collection of an artist needed for completion. In the cold light of day ca. 2014, this Razormaid collection seems to be as marginally fascinating as the previous compilations covered recently on this blog; its patina of exclusivity notwithstanding.

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to Record Review: Razormaid – Class-X Two

  1. Echorich says:

    I dabbled in razormaid and DMC mix albums in the mid and lat 80’s but usually found there was only one track I really needed. I was much more satisfied with the On-U Sound remix singles and EP’s in the late 80’s and early 90’s. As for that Patrick Crowley remix of I Feel Love, I consider it a truly disastrous remix, taking everything that is seminal about the track.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I am appalled that some consider the Cowley remix seminal! A NME ’50 best remixes’ piece of clickbait I chanced upon the other day held this opinion rather highly.

      Like

      • ECHORICH says:

        I know! I saw that as well! but NME, like Rolling Stone, is only as consistent as the writers currently working at it.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – The NME without Paul Morley is a non-starter for me. Rolling Stone never did a thing for me. Musically, at least. I do follow Matt Taibbi’s political reporting if my wife brings home an issue from the library.

          Like

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