Well, this thread, though popular, has not been working out for me. Unless I have a mix on a CD I can put my hands on, then my failing memory is surely missing out on dozens of crucial records that didn’t immediately spring to mind. All of my off rack CD singles [hundreds in boxes stowed away in inaccessible places] and undigitized vinyl has been off limits for consideration since I don’t have the time to properly play and research this thread. Then again, there’s also the pathetic shortlist of remixes that I love, where I have not ever heard the original mix to make a comparison to! Today I will add the last few that impress before rounding up a top four fave remixes of the last four decades to be posted tomorrow.
This is the newest remix in this thread, that’s for certain, but last year when I heard that OMD had picked John Foxx + The Maths to be the opening act on their “English Electric” tour I was ecstatic at the notion of JF+TM producing the next OMD record. I didn’t have to wait long, when this stupendous remix popped out of the remix oven within weeks of my musings.
Having JF+TM secret weapon Benge produce this mix, very effectively addressed by concerns with OMD ca. 2013, namely, their reliance on thin sounding digital and soft synths! That charge can’t be levied against this tremendous remix that crackles with an energy largely thin on the original master of this cut. The song is great, but the production let me down. Not at all for this mix!! JF+TM have [re]made an OMD record exactly as I have wanted it; only better! The additional countermelodies added to the song make it actually sound more like what I used to expect from OMD 34 years ago!
You might say that this mix was The Bomb, thirty years ago. Quite literally, as the FGTH track expertly exploited nuclear anxiety in the Reagan era as well as the state-of-the-art in record production to produce an absolutely monster of a 12″ remix. And where ZTT were concerned, there was no shortage of these, as they filled the market with as many remixes as they thought that it could bear. All the better to keep the track aloft in the charts for what turned out to be ludicrously long amounts of time. All of the mixes were great, but this was the first that I had heard, and therefore, a mold-breaker for its time.
The civil defense soundbites and narration absolutely underscored the thoughts, widely prevalent at the time, that nuclear war could happen at any time. Now, thirty years afterward, I think that the brinksmanship was not so much aimed at one country or another, but instead at the citizens of the world, who were made to feel absolutely powerless. All the better to dismantle the social contracts that had popped up after the Great Depression and represented money that was put to much better use in the Swiss bank accounts of our betters. Yeah, in retrospect, nuclear brinksmanship was a game both sides won when you consider that the whole exercise may have been a psy-ops whammy aimed at each nation’s citizens. To reduce their levels of expectation to dramatically lower levels. Well, enough semiotics. Weren’t we talking about 12″ remixes?
Oh, yes we were. This remix sounded like a million dollars worth of 16 bit destruction… and it probably was. Trevor Horn and Theam spent three months making certain that its release would build on what they had achieved with “Relax” and it certainly did that, for my money. At the end of the day, this is my preferred FGTH single. Though I love the glorious middle eight in the “Carnage Mix,” this one still has the killa bassline that I could listen to for hours. Was it Normal Watts-Roy, as Trevor Horn has hinted? Was it from the Fairlight sample library, as Andy Richards has asserted? Does it matter? The Reagan impersonations were brilliant and insolent. If truth be told, Ronald Reagan could have been given co-writing credits on the track, since the societal level of anxiety and tension that it relied upon was his creation.
Sometimes a remix can take a song into a whole different realm with just a few changes to the instrumentation. I adore Jacqui Brookes single “Lost Without Your Love. At least, that’s what she was known as in America. In the UK, her magnificent electric torch songs [did you see that one coming?] were made with Jimme O’Neill, the resident genius from Fingerprintz, before settling for the tedium of The Silencers after the inexplicable failure of this project. On 12” though, the derivative fretless bass of Pino Palaldino, was excised. All of the rhythm bed was excised and the resulting mix had fresh, new injections of electro energy and beatbox that took the song down a completely different path. It almost presages cheap, nasty EBM and sounds remarkably similar to the sort of rhythms that would animate Cabaret Voltaire’s “Sensoria” single the following year.
…finally, the envelope, please…