Finest Remixes [part 4]

Tim Simenon of Bomb The Bass with his weapon of choice

Tim Simenon of Bomb The Bass with his weapon of choice

The weekend came and went without the time to have so much as a glance in the Record Cell for inspiration, so here are a few titles worthy of adulation from my backlog, with a vital suggestion from Echorich. Once more into the 12″ mix breach, dear friends!

duran duran - saveaprayerUK12ADuran Duran | Hold Back The Rain [Ext. Remix] | 1982

At the end of the day, this is still may favorite Duran Duran song. The copy of the “Rio” album that I first bought in 1982 had the glorious extended version of “Hold Back The Rain” on it, but as the last track on side one, the seven minute opus was severely groove crammed. It had sounded better on the “Carnival” EP that US Capitol had released to goose the album sales before MTV sunk their teeth in the band. It sounded better still on the UK 12″ of “Save A Prayer” as the premium B-side given a full 12″ side to luxuriate on! It wasn’t until I got the US CD of “Rio” in 1993 that I ever heard the anemic original mix. What David Kershenbaum did with the extended remix staggers the mind and belies his role as Joe Jackson’s early producer. This is why 12″ remixes were invented!

The propulsive track simply needed every square inch of groove space to reach its ultimate potential as heard here! The extended breakdown stretched the track’s tension as far as it was possible, with Simon LeBon’s exhortations of “hold it back” increased ridiculously in pitch until they vanished before the song practically snapped in two with a roll of the Simmons drums from beat monster Roger Taylor, who is really the star of this track. The valuable guest star role here went to the clean, frisky guitar licks of Andy Taylor, in his finest contribution to a Duran Duran track, ever. The relentless tattoos of Taylor’s SDS kit drove and pulled this song ever forward until it finally coasted to a end fade that sounds as if momentum could keep the song rolling for at least another 30 seconds.

depeche mode - strangeloveUSPRMXCDADepeche Mode | Strangelove [Hijack Mix] | 1988

My long-term go-to Depeche Mode single was always “Strangelove,” which saw a plethora of remixes; all of them interesting, but the creme-de-la-creme for my ears was the Bomb The Bass “Hijack Mix.” Tim Simenon and Mark Saunders were at the vortex of UK dance culture with “Beat Dis,” the previous year, and this made them the hot remix team du jour. With their mix of “Strangelove,” the track attained an industrial funk edge comparable to what Cabaret Voltaire were achieving a few years earlier. Even the 7″ remix edit was full of concentrated power at their hands. Mark Saunders went on to mix a lot of fantastic material for Erasure soon afterward, but Tim Simenon remained the one to watch. Everything I’ve heard him touch has been best of breed for me.

spandau ballet - goldUK12ASpandau Ballet | Gold [Ext. Ver.] | 1983

This is a 12″ mix that’s every bit as dramatic and transformative as Trevor Horn’s 12″ remix of “Poison Arrow” was, with a luscious, John Barry-esque buildup that made the Bond theme roots of the song even more explicit. It’s a huge failure of reality that this track was never the actual theme to a James Bond movie, since it smokes every actual Bond theme post “Thunderball” for lunch with one hand tied behind its back! The jazzy electric piano and guitar carry the melody with horns punctuating the grandeur of it all, before the tympani, congas and percussion arrive on the scene, enhancing the urgent synth riffs that herald the fully formed song’s arrival after the intro’s massive buildup.

…more to come…

 

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18 Responses to Finest Remixes [part 4]

  1. Echorich says:

    First off, YES YES YES!!! I fully agree that Gold is the Bond theme to beat ALL 70′ and later Bond Themes (Peter Godwin had a pretty good stab at a Skyfall theme as well)!!! Horn threw all that he learned from Lexicon Of Love at this song and all the best bits stuck and stuck hard. The lonely bass and piano into woodwinds makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up with anticipation. Then things get moving with enough percussive and keyboard power to detroy Dr. No’s island lair. The final element is Tony Hadley’s simply grand vocal. This is the song that he spent three albums and countless years waiting to sing. He has the ability to shine over everything Horn and the band throw at him with grace and fervor. Top 10 single of the 80’s hands down!

    Now as for Hold Back The Rain – I have too many mixes of this track! I have come to rely on the Alternate mix which is on the 2009 remaster cd of Rio. It has all the best bits of the Kershenbaum remix. The US Remix and Carnival Remix have too much guitar for me I think. I do love the sequencers on this track they were still aping Quiet Life Era Japan at this point, trying to give it more muscle and succeeding here and there.

    Ah the Strangelove Hijack Mix – elsewhere also known as the Tim Simenon/Mark Saunders Remix! It is the second best thing about Music For The Masses – I am always going to be partial to the bombast of Never Let Me Down – Split Mix – and probably has worn better than most every other Depeche Mode remix over the years. The hard tribal character of the remix is part industrial and part toe tapping brilliance! Simenon and Saunders manage to not let the song get monotonous which is a feat when the song is really all about one one musical motif. When it ends, it just gives into itself which is really just right.

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    • Echorich says:

      I have to correct myself here…In my excitement to discuss SB’s Gold, I attributed it to Trevor Horn. It’s actually a Jolly/Swain remix from all accounts, but it is they who learned from The Man to give Gold that certain something that makes it great!

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        Echorich – Phew! You had me going there for a minute! I thought that I was going to have to break out the tranq gun! But the grandeur of “Gold” really gave the spotlight to Hadley, Keeble, and Norman, who at this point, was Spandau’s secret weapon. Every band has one, you know! And you’re so right about Peter Godwin writing the best non-Bond theme since “Gold” with “Skyfall.” As for Swain & Jolley, what did they ever do after Spandau Ballet and The ‘Nans? Oooof! I just searched Discogs and found out all about Steve Jolley. Ewwwww! I wish I hadn’t!

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        • Echorich says:

          Anyone hearing the track for the first time would certainly think they were hearing an ABC Lexicon Era track and THAT is a great compliment. Yes more than any music fan needs to know about Steve Jolley I’m afraid. They made their mark with Imagination which is probably what prompted the Kemp Brothers to want them in for True. As for Jolley and Swain’s other work, their Love Injected Mix of Alison Moyet’s Love Resurrection is pretty brill!

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  2. I have always loathed “Gold” as a SB song … “True” was the beginning of the end, but “Gold” — blech! Having heard you both sing the praises of the 12″, I might have to give it a try … with great trepidation (did I mention I really loathe this song in its single/album form?) …

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    • Tim says:

      I have a love hate with that Spandau Ballet album. It is an incredibly well produced album. It is also strides a really fine line between confidence and arrogance….I can’t phrase it any other way.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – “Gold” in 45 is Vegas fodder, not that I find anything wrong with that, but the 12″ is absolutely on par with the “Poison Arrow” 12″ for luxurious excess. And it [very successfully] reeks of John Barry. As for “True,” I find it soporific mush any way you slice it! I could very happily never hear it again for the rest of my life.

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    • Echorich says:

      I have to agree with Tim that True as an album is a great production. It’s slick and highly polished, but I don’t know if it’s arrogance as much as a calculation to refine the band’s capabilities and of course make a smash in the marketplace. Lifeline, Communication and yes, Gold are adult and mature (no the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand, nor are they a bad thing) and show a band in control of their sound. I wouldn’t have wanted a Diamond 2. There is still a good deal of funk on True, but it is more contained/restricted. Yes, they would make True 2 with the following release Parade, but it too has some incredible pop moments IMHO – it’s a jazzier side of their sound. The single True is a great example of an overplayed hit, so much so that 30 years on it feels like you’ve still heard it too often. I got to see the band tour True and they lost none of their live spark and commitment. It wouldn’t be until Through The Barricades when I totally gave up on Spandau Ballet.

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        Echorich – I’d pay good money for a “Diamond 2” any way I could get it!!

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        • Echorich says:

          I get that Monk but I would want more if they went down that path and I’m not sure they had it in them. The problem with the New Romantics was that they changed and latched on to things with the prevailing winds. It’s the main reason the scene dissipated musically as fast as it did. Of course all the faddish success helped a lot as well…

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      • Tim says:

        The arrogance comment I made is mostly (in my opinion) about some of the lyrics. Gold in particular is one that rubs me that way. As far as a Bond theme, I don’t see it (or hear it). Musically I do but lyrically not. I’m not a huge fan of the Bond franchise but if you grew up in the late 60’s into the 70’s you couldn’t get away from it. Bond to me is about self-confidence, calculation and skill. There is a lot of that in the song but it takes it too far. As an 80’s Bond (can’t bold and italicize the “80’s there) it may be more appropriate for that time period than a lot of other contenders.

        The parent album occupies this interesting time in pop music out of the UK New Wave where some of this material (for me a lot of the output of Heaven 17 and Spandau Ballet’s “True”) happens right before the stark reality of Reagan/Thatcher hit. It’s not their fault, I doubt that they had any clue what was coming and for me the music has a self-celebratory dimension that becomes a matter of the right music at the wrong time and place; forever entangled with the bad taste left in my mouth from Reagan’s “Morning in America.”

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        • Tim says:

          By the way, mentioning the Reagan/Thatcher years got me thinking about another act from this time and the path that they took. I would certainly include The Style Council’s 12” for “Have You Ever Had It Blue” for this list. Not a lot radical done to the song on it but if there was ever a song that carried a longer mix and didn’t feel like it that would be HYEHIB.

          Was happy to see the Strangelove 88 in here. It’s one of my favorite DM tracks and the initial mixes were underwhelming. The brief snippets of “People Are People” that were thrown in the mix were great and I wish that they had gone a bit further with that.

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          • Echorich says:

            Tim, I thought your “arrogance” description was certainly fair, and yes the lyrics can definitely fit that – especially on tracks like Gold and Foundation. I don’t think I ever felt that Heaven 17 was anything other than a band in conflict with the prevailing winds of Thatcherism/Reaganism. How Men Are is an entire album of pro CND, anti Right Wing Globalism and that’s what makes it one of my favorites. It’s also one of the best Fairlight CMI albums of the era, but that’s another conversation/topic. H17 did a great job of dealing with both personal/emotional issues as well as broader social issues in their output on the first 3 albums. H17 skirted so close to the bone with their commentary and videos at the time that they were easily mistaken for glorifying the rise of the Sloane Ranger set and 80’s largess.
            As for Have You Ever Had It Blue – the 12″ mix is certainly the definitive version. It’s the stand out track on the Absolute Beginners soundtrack for me and played at one of the best moments in the film as well.

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  3. Taffy says:

    Love all three of these songs and mixes. Regarding Gold as Bond theme; I could see the long intro of the extended mix used as incidental music to some transitional scene, the action escalating along with the music. But as an opening credits theme, I’d want a tighter, punchier, and more orchestral version, not this long one. With even more bombast from Mr Hadley (if that’s possible!) – when you’re competing with the likes of Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones, you need all the lungpower one can muster!

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    • Echorich says:

      For me that’s just it, in 1983 Hadley could have easily have “competed” with those Bond theme giants. As a total aside, Hadley is known to cover D2’s Rio when he does the Rewind tours…he can command that song with confidence.

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