Four Decades Of My Favorite Remixes [1980s]

Claudia Brücken in Propaganda © 1985 Peter Brown

Claudia Brücken in Propaganda © 1985 Peter Brown

Well, we’re wrapping up this look at favorite remixes today. The last four decades all have representative favorite remixes of mine which we haven’t covered yet. Suffice to say that Claudia Brücken figures prominently for much of the next four days.

1980-1989

propaganda - das testaments des mabuse the third side JPN3APropaganda | Das Testaments Des Mabuse [the third side] | 1984

My favorite Propaganda track is “Dr. Mabuse.” I first bought the 12″  of “Das Testaments Of Mabuse” [12ZTAS 2 in ZTT sleeve] and the 6:34 mix became a huge favorite. Once the album of “A Secret Wish” was released, I held out for the CD version, which followed after a few months back in those dark days of CD pressing. I popped the CD in the tray and instead of pressing “play,” I went straight to hear the version of “Dr. Mabuse” on the UK CD, track nine. I was not quite prepared for what got delivered.

The 10:14 cut on that CD was the most cataclysmic remix that I had ever heard; before or since. It was the sound and fury of a malefic genius transformed into psychotic sound and given a thunderous mix by Trevor Horn, who would never be able to top this production and mix, ever again to my ears. The opening suggested blood chilling horror as a minor chord resolves itself into a major chord, and then drops back to minor key as accompanied by the sound of coins dropping onto a hard surface and rotating until still. A woman’s voice whispered “…Mabuse…” as if held in hypnotic enchantment. Suzanne Freytag then asked “why does it hurt when my heart misses the beat?”

Then the martial, machine-like beat began to pump and grind as a man’s voice intoned “The man without the shadow, promises you the world. Tell him your dreams… and fanatical needs. He’s buying them all… with cash!” Then the relentless bassline began to throb as Claudia Brücken began to sing “Sell him your soul… never look back” as the orchestra, punctuated by rolling tympani, whipcrack beats and the hum and hiss of infernal machinery painted a most stygian vision; void of all notions of conventional morality.

At the point where the seven inch version would have faded, there was a second percussion movement primarily featuring beatbox and Bernard Hermann-esque strings sawing away, Psycho style. Backwards samples of Suzanne Freytag added frissons of disorientation to the tumultuous music. The gothic melodrama became thick enough to cut with a knife as the tension coiled upwards until the storm broke with a crash at the 6:45 mark and then the third movement, very similar to “Strength To Dream,” added a dignified coda to the dark proceedings.

The tempo of the coda remained synched to the jaunty bass line for several measures until the beat slackened to half speed for a more stately effect. At 9:08, a breakdown occurred with just the beats and percussion remaining. A hint of strings heralded the return of Ms. Freytag and another recitation of “why does it hurt when my heart misses the beat?” The track undergoes further recursion with another desperate whisper of “…Mabuse…” before the track finally ends with the sound of tape rewinding and almost sounding like laughter.

This is still my favorite remix I’ve ever heard after 34 years in the trenches. It’s not really a dance track. It creates a desperate, malignant world where there is no hope for anyone to triumph except for the decadent criminal genius Mabuse. It’s more cinematic than most films. It was the sound of Trevor Horn’s Theam moving far outside the realm of pop and dance; spending what sounded like a small fortune to create an entire world.

Next: …Embracing the 90s

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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7 Responses to Four Decades Of My Favorite Remixes [1980s]

  1. Echorich says:

    I have to say over the last few years I have had a much greater appreciation for Dr. Mabuse than I did when A Secret Wish came out. I have always been so taken by Duel that the rest of the album can become a bit of a blur. But Since Noise and Girls Come Out To Play was released, I have really taken greatly to Dr. Mabuse – both the Das Testaments Des Mabuse and 13th Life mixes. The latter has been sitting right in the middle of the current Epic Epoch playlist until today. Your review has had me have a rethink and it is now the former which occupies slot 29 in the playlist. I think the strings and percussion coda is what sealed it for me.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – “Duel” was the gateway drug, but “Mabuse” is the monkey on my back! I saw that bit of the “Duel” video on “London Calling” and sped to the record store to obtain “Duel.” That purchased, my next move was buying “Mabuse” on 12″ and after that I never looked back.

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  2. zoo says:

    I’m familiar w/ the album version but had never heard this “Das Testaments” mix. Found it on Spotify last night and have now listened to it three more times this morning at work. It is magnificent!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Zoo – All mixes of “Mabuse” rule my universe. One of the highlights of John Hughes career was the opening credits of “Some Kind Of Wonderful” with the 7″ “Abuse” mix booming out of the Theatre’s sound system.

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      • Echorich says:

        I was just thinking about the opening of Some Kind Of Wonderful, Monk! That is actually the highlight if that entire film.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – You’ve got that right! In the mid 80s I was working at my college paper and the studios lavished student press with handouts and free passes for every Hughes opus. At least I saw them for free! Hearing which of my favorite bands would get the Hughes “love” on the soundtrack was always a Faustian experience. At least Propaganda emerged triumphant. Unlike many others!

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