Finest Remixes [part 1]

Trevor C. Horn in his element © Adrian Sherratt

Trevor C. Horn in his element © Adrian Sherratt

When I finally got the Visage CD single of “Never Enough” recently, it triggered a discussion between myself and top commenter Echorich over “epic, transformative” remixes. There have been remixes ever since the late 70s, but for me that were an exotic bird until about 1980, when I first started buying them. For about five years, 12″ remixes were pretty amazing and new, but changing dance music fads conspired to make them largely tedious to me for at least two decades. The last eight years or so have seen a return of the sort of musical values I prefer driving the remix bus, to the point where I’ve heard more that I liked in the last eight years than any I did in the preceding twenty!

Echorich was building a playlist for a road trip he’s planning to take later this month and not surprisingly, the Hand of Horn touches a lot of this music! The man really brought remixed 12″ singles into the forefront, and ZTT’s great leap of issuing multiple remixes was a “genie out of the bottle” moment of the kind that shows up only once in a generation. Now on to a list of “epic epoch” mixes as compiled by Echorich and myself. Feel free to chime in with helpful suggestions… my memory banks are overburdened and as I type these words, my Record Cell is 26 miles away! This is a thread that could last for days, so I’m warning you…

Polydor | US | EP | 1981 | PX-1-501Visage | Fade To Grey [Dance Mix] | 1981

This record holds a special place for me since it was the first 12″ remix that I can remember buying. The US remix of “Fade To Grey” was dramatically different from the tepidly extended German 12″, which resembled typical extended mixes of the time. Looped instro sections edited with a razor and block. Not so for the US remix by John Luongo, which amped up the thunderous synth percussion of it all with massive amounts of reverb and time dilation. The dubbed out coda gave it a massive footprint that really shook the earth.

spandau-ballet---instinctionUK12ASpandau Ballet | Instinction [Trevor Horn Remix] B/W Chant No. 1 [Remix] | 1982

This is a killer twofer and the single most potent Spandau Ballet release one could possibly own. The A-side represents the sound of TCH pumping a passable album track full of sonic steroids until it almost bursts! Spandau rebounded from two poor selling singles to regain their hold on the top ten in the UK with the gargantuan “Instinction.” As if to set the bar impossibly high, the high-pressure funk of “Chant No. 1” appeared in its earth-straddling eight minute, dubbed out jazzfunk version as previously appeared in the “Diamond” boxed set of 12″ mixes. Original producer Richard James Burgess delivered these goods.

duran duran - planet earth[nightversion]UK12ADuran Duran | Planet Earth [Night Version] | 1981

This was the first Double Duran song I ever heard, and it didn’t wait too long before running out to buy their just-released album. The US LP had the long, “night version” supplanting the 7″ mix proffered on the UK album. The long disco buildup culminated in an orgy of  bass and percussion from their very capable rhythm section before heading over the falls into the song proper. Back in the day, Duran and their producer, Colin Thurston, actually made an extended mix by re-recording a new arrangement of the song since the arcane arts of remixing were still filtering down in the trade, and hadn’t reached them yet!

roxy music - angeleyesFR12ARoxy Music | Angel Eyes [12″ Version] | 1979

The band that all of these people emulated, was first across the finish line for developing a transformative 12″ version. Anyone who had heard the jazzy, downbeat LP version of “Angel Eyes” on the “Manifesto” album could not have been prepared for the song’s complete reconstruction as an over-the-top, gossamer eurodisco, neutron bomb of a track. The song was re-recorded and extended by Bob Clearmountain, who knew a few things about how to make a track sound massive. The compressed rhythm section was joined by Andy MacKay’s heraldic horns, ridiculously luscious harp runs and juxtaposed by stinging, sinister [was that e-bow] guitar licks courtesy of Phil Manzanera. Ferry’s crooning vacillates between abandoned release and tough tension.

Whoops! Out of time for today. Join us tomorrow for more on this thread.

 

About postpunkmonk

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8 Responses to Finest Remixes [part 1]

  1. JT says:

    Hi –

    Yeah, that story bout the Night Versions of Planet Earth and Girls on Film always cracks me up. I think it was John Taylor (maybe) who said in an interview that they didn’t realize that 12″mixes were studio creations made well after the musicians had all gone home, so DD went into the studio and completely re-cut those two tunes in longer versions for the 12″-ers. And indeed, in those days why WOULD a bunch of fops barely out of their teens know anything bout how records are made? It was their first one!

    Odd that Colin Thurston didn’t know better, or maybe he just liked the idea and went along with it.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – I like the idea! It’s so much cooler than a mere remix! Too bad they got jaded. You’re right. Thurston should have known better, but it’s to our advantage that he didn’t steer them away from the idea. I find your suggestion of him liking the idea likely. It’s much fresher and more musical to work up a new arrangement with the band and get it down on tape! Way better than letting the engineer or tape op have a go while the band is getting hammered in the pub.

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  2. Echorich says:

    This is off to a great start Monk…I have to tell you that I have fleshed out the playlist to 28 tracks at this point – Planet Earth Night Version and Instinction – Horn Mix are featured in the current cut. I am on the fence with Fade To Grey so far. I chose the, what I consider rarer – rather than better – Extended mix of The Main Thing over Angel Eyes.
    I am POSITIVE that we will vehemently disagree on a few of my choices as the full list is revealed.

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  3. I can likely think of a few such life-altering remixes given time, but the one that springs to mind on this topic is the Dub Mix of BEF’s Billy McKenzie-led “Secret Life of Arabia!” I’m reasonably sure it was my introduction to dub mixes entirely, and so entranced me that I had to seek out the original — which I found just too short to satisfy! This song led me to Music of Quality and Distinction of course and more great discoveries. I really love it to this day.

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    • Echorich says:

      Well Chas, that Dub Mix of SLOA by Sir Billy is on my “current” final playlist…which of course is far from final…

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  4. Doh — forgot to mention that the Dub Mix was found on the Methods of Dance Vol. 2 compilation album, which itself was a life-changing record (introducing me to Disconet and The Men, among other things).

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  5. Tim says:

    Trevor Horn trivia moment:

    He has remixed Barry Manilow’s “Could It Be The Magic.”
    I kid you not.

    It’s not entirely bad, either.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Trevor Horn and Barely Manenough? Just say no!! Speaking of Horn, condolences to him for the recent loss of his wife, Jill Sinclair, who had spent many years in a coma after a shooting accident in 2006 had left her stricken by hypoxia. Sadly, her quality of life suffered due to her brain damage, and her end came through cancer on March 22nd.

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