Here are a couple more mandatory mixes as I have but minutes to blog today.
Mixer Shep Pettibone was all but impossible to avoid if you bought any 12″ daaaaaaaance music in the mid-late 80s. His house stylings were as missable as anyone else’s to these ears, but the remix of New Order’s stupendous “True Faith” certainly rose to the occasion of greatness. The 12″ version if fine, but the song really takes flight with the 12″ remix, by Pettibone. He expertly used rhyrhmic pressure points to almost give the motorik masterpiece a hint of hip-hop feel that added a dollop of funk to the irresolute machine vibe there. I only heard the remix when I bought the semi-legendary CDV format of that single. More often than not, Pettibone delivered perfectly serviceable remix work, but not usually more. Not this time.
Aha! The last Spandau remix classic that I had alluded to earlier in this series! “I’ll Fly For You” failed to impress in its original mix; being merely another in the seemingly endless series of MOR post-“True” ballads that Gary Kemp got sucked into churning out in a sad attempt to hold onto the brass ring. The glide mix of “I’ll Fly For You,” is a perfectly named, radical re-recording of the song that has been seriously invested with some dramatic and abstract jazz DNA. I’d almost call this ambient dub jazz! In place of the typical sturdy Tony Hadley crooning, this dramatic re-arrangement of the tune had Hadley reciting the lyrics breathlessly instead, with only a few points where he broke into song. The EQ alone on this mix is full of radical shifts in emphasis. It was the quintessence of smoky, late night listening and it was one of my very favorite remixes of 1984.
Sometimes it’s not the A-side that got the love. In 1985, the first single from the then-new China Crisis album arrived with an A-side the same as the 3:36 album track. The mixing was instead lavished on the B-side. The appropriately named “A Day At The Zoo Mix” of the cheerful, if slight tune “Animalistic” was like nothing else that I’d heard at that time. After the tune faded out at what would have been its ending on 7″, the 12″ version featured a weird segue into what I could only describe as field recordings made at what sounded exactly like a zoo, with what sounded like Japanese instruments mixed into the recordings.
After a minute or so of this, then gradually, dub elements of the original song were re-introduced back into the mix, until the eleven minute track ended with the song reclaimed from what I can only refer to as a proto-ambient dub workout. It was a mind-blower of what could be attempted with a remix if one’s mind were open enough. I can only surmise that The Future Sound Of London heard this while still in knee-pants since this track has got to be the flashpoint of ambient dub as we know it. That it appeared as a B-side to a China Crisis 12″ single is doubly astonishing. Not that the band didn’t have ambient leanings with earlier tracks like “Dockland” or “Watching Over Burning Fields” all being legitimately part of the China Crisis DNA. Still, it’s hard to imagine a whole hip genre that descended from a China Crisis experiment.
…Ain’t no stopping us now… more remixes on Monday