I still have not had the time to really dig through the Record Cell, and yesterday I had to cut my lunch hour short due to [gasp] work, so here are more mixes that impress off the top of my head.
With Zeus B. Held in the producer’s chair, this single track received the loving care and devotion to take it over the top in exactly the way that most of these songs received. The warm, expansive sound is heavy on the acoustic guitars and piano in addition to the reverberant Simmons Drums and yes, the synthesizers that we expected. Like all of Held’s best productions, there is a full utilization of best-of-breed analog and digital technology together. The long, deliberate buildup is an unparalleled example of its kind. The cineramic sound is impossibly lush and the song has expanded to fill every inch of the listener’s environment. As the song eventually fades, only to have a reprise of Foxx’s backing vocals return, it is a moment that raises the hairs on the back of my neck.
Many of the Scritti Politti 12″ers from the “Cupid + Psyche ’85” era were dub mixes, which are another kettle of fish from the kind of extended versions we’re looking at here. As nice as they are, Green’s vocals are a significant part of Scritti’s appeal. With the fourth single, all the stops were pulled out and “Perfect Way” received remixes by John Potoker and Françcois Kevorkian. The UK 12″ was remixed, but not appreciably longer than the album version. There was a differing US commercial 12″ with a remix credited to Kevorkian, Alan Meyerson, and Josh Abbey, a.k.a. Committee. Even so, that was another five minute cut. We loved “Perfect Way” and needed it to be longer. Fortunately, there was the 7:27 U.S. promo “Way Perfect Mix” which took the same name as the US commercial 12″, but was longer and more rhythmic, with a dazzling, compressed cutup mix of Fred Maher’s drums sounding like a Keith LeBlanc beatbox.
What!! A Post-Modern Mix on this list? It finally happened in 1999, when I picked up a CD single in a Madrid record store; my one time record shopping in Europe. Though I purchased it in a perfunctory fashion, I was surprisingly smitten with the Interference Mix of long time Simple Minds favorite “The American.” So much so, that it vies with the original for my favor to this day! [in other words, my praise for this Post-Modern Mix could not be higher] The mix is suffused with acidic rave energy and even relies on the hated dance trope of looping bits of the vocal in it, which I normally hate, but here I melt when I hear the end results. Possibly because Interference was actually Tim Simenon and Keith LeBlanc; masters of dance. This was a streamlined, aerodynamic re-imagining of “The American” and it was built for speed. If it had all been this good, maybe I would have liked the 90s.
I still remember how floored I was when I heard the incomparable version of “The Secret Life Of Arabia” by B.E.F. with Billy MacKenzie singing. With their secret weapon bass player, John Wilson, and armed with the mighty Linn Drum Computer, they managed to cut a version of this fairly recent Bowie track that makes the original sound like a Portastudio demo in comparison. To this they added the secret ingredient: Associates singer Billy MacKenzie. The four minute album track begged for more time, so this album contains a 7:06 dub mix of the track that is widescreen, cataclysmic, sonic perfection. The near-hysteria in MacKenzie’s vocals is more than matched by the scope of the thunderous dub mix. In my dotage, I will attempt to mix the album and dub mix together for a 10 minute vocal version. Then, and only then, can I happily expire!
…We’ll try to wrap this up by Friday, eh?