With the first favorite remix having been released in 1984, we didn’t move too far into the future before the favorite remix of the next decade manifested itself. Truth be told, the 90s were not a favorite time for me, musically. Remixes by this time period were fairly obnoxious to me with many daaaaaaance music trends [house, techno, baggy, everything else] bringing pain to my ears. I stopped collecting a lot of favorite artists due to their output on single remixes at this time… but not Claudia Brücken.
Claudia Brücken | Kiss Like Ether [Electrical Embrace] | 1991
I can vividly remember popping this into the CD player for the first time in 1991. The first single from the “Love… And A Million Other Things” album was “Absolut[e],” the closest thing to banality that she ever released as a single. It sounded like a Depeche Mode track. Not this one! As I recall, even this second single was still a pre-release, and I didn’t have the album yet. When I pressed “play,” I heard the song for the first time in its remixed form, courtesy of Mark Saunders. The ‘Electrical Embrace’ mix was instantly gripping with fat, spherical sequenced lines that nodded to both Moroder and the Berlin School.
That won me over right there. Then, the song’s theme on string patches was eventually joined by drum machine percussion and synth bass. Ms. Brücken’s vocal contained many delightful excursions into her lower registers for late night smoky intimacy. I loved how Claudia’s harmonies with the backing vocalists [including Claudia Fontaine of Afrodiziak] remained steady until she descended an octave for “ether” in the song’s chorus. The dissolute, jazzy trumpet touches in the trancelike middle eight show the sophistication of her aim with this album. This is a song of adult rapture and bliss that’s far from clumsy teenaged fumbles in a back seat.
The mix concluded with all instrumentation faded down except for the sequencers, looped rhythmic samples of Ms. Brücken’s vocals cut up in abstraction, and birdlike synth trills as the cut ended as it began, on what resembled a backward cymbal hit. In a perfect world, two DJs could segue this mix together in an endless loop for as long as it took to have enough.
And I could never have enough. I bought the CD single first and was blown away by the gorgeous four color plus knocked out stop varnish on the tiny gatefold sleeve. I was not used to five color sleeves for CD singles! I then bought the 7″ in a gatefold sleeve, which sported the same, luscious print job as the CD single, only larger. Then there was the second 12″ remix in a boxed set. The radically different “Earth Mood Magic” mix took the song into world music territory in a sleeve that was all metallic machine aesthetics. I then found the “Electrical Embrace” mix on 12″ single and that piece is one of the most elaborately printed 12″ singles I’ve ever seen. Not only does it have the deluxe five color print job of the CD and 7″, but it also has an overlay outer sleeve that had the black halftone plate reverse printed on synthetic vellum. If one removed the overlay, only the crystalline colors were on the cardboard sleeve. Yes, there were once sleeves that daring!
Next: …Enter the 21st century…one…two
Wow, I forgot just how lovely this remix is. It’s the the immediate track I think of from Love…And A Million Other Things (which you have to admit is a great album title), but this remix is just gorgeous. Not sure why this came into my head, but the more I think about it, it’s a wonder why Grace Jones never covered this song. In fact if Grace ever needed a songwriter, Ms. Brucken would have written her a few hits I’m sure. I think my favorite elements of this remix are the bebop like horns and the insistent electronic percussion. Such a satisfying remix!
Echorich – Good call on La Jones! I can hear it in my mind now… And yes, has anyone ever covered a Claudia Brücken song. If not, why not? [checks…] Sacre Merde!! Discounting Eurokase such as Propaganda For Frankie we have…
The first cover of “Duel” intrigues me. I had no idea that Bill Wyman’s child bride had a stab at it too! Yaaaaaaah!!! Have you heard Loco Loco, since that seems to be more your territory on the face of it?
At any rate, there seems to be lots of love for “Duel,” which makes a kind of sense as it is her poppiest number.
More to the point Monk, Mandy covered Don’t You Want Me AND Duel! Duel was mixed by Pete Hammond which means that there might have been some love for the original there…ok, just checked it out on the interweb…the synth stabs are wholesale lifted but pitched up to match Mandy’s breathy vocal and the chorus is more Shirley Lewis than Mandy singing – Epic Fail. But here is the tenor of the comments for it — ” I just listened to Propaganda’s version and I really like the arrangement, but the vocal is just awful…………her voice is like hammering nails in my ears. ” — per someone named Simon who looks about as old as Bill Wyman…no accounting for taste.
Can’t tell you anything about Loco…Loco…
Sophie Ellis Bextor, who’s father is a publisher I used to work with, provides us with a swirly, overproduced version of Duel which again wholesale lifts some of the arrangement from the original, but fills in the clean production of the original with every type of reverbed bass and percussion sound they could fit in. Her vocal attack is a real mimic of Ms. Brucken though. She even attempts some of the emotional peaks that Claudia reached at the song’s end. Meh.
Echorich – Thanks so much for your research! There are only so many hours in a day and I appreciate your help! But there’s still that Spanish version by Melissa… I’m intrigued. It might be interesting… and I can’t find any trace of it on itunes.
What a great single! So lush and luxurious both in tone and appearance. Must have cost a fortune to produce and sadly it sunk like a stone (at least in Germany).
In a way it´s actually a “trip-hop” production before it was called that.
I also thought the production has much in common with William Orbit´s production style which was beginning to unfold around this time with his “BassOmatic” stuff (highly redommended).
AND lets not overlook the b-side: “I Dream (recurring)” is also very good, almost experimental.
stellaVista – Yes! Very good call on the proto-trip hop and I can definitely hear strong leanings toward the Orbit style. I was always enraptured by his early Torch Song work, and his remixes, but I still have not heard the Bassomatic material. What can I say? I’m a cloistered Monk! Claudia has very nice things to say about the B-side on her website. She thought it has a Propaganda feel and I am not one to disagree.
Bassomatic was actually an Orbit solo project with guest singers. Make sure to check out his first album “Set the controls for the heart of the bass”, it offers -next to a wonderful title- a lot of great material. “Fascinating Rhythm” is a great, groovy pop single and “In the realm of the senses” offers all the Orbit-mayhem you seem to love as much as i do.
His best remix (and maybe one of the best of all time) has got to be his “spatial extension mix” of S´Express´”Hey music lover”. If you don´t know this one, drop everything and get a hold of it, cause “it´s a screaming orgasm!”
stellaVista – Actually, I only have the Rhythm Stick remix of “Hey Music Lover”
and I’ve not heard any other versions of that track. Noted! As for Orbit’s career, I love the first two Torch Song albums, like the first Orbit album, love his remixes, but have not been impressed by any of his own projects like the Strange Cargo albums, or the third Torch Song release, which was just more Strange Cargo to my ears. I’ve kind of shied away from his 90s daaaaaaaaaaance music stuff. I pretend the work for Madonna doesn’t exist.
I never cared much for his Strange Cargo and his classic on trance- stuff either, but his remixes are still in a league of their own.
Here you can read what others have to say about his s´express remix and listen to it (good headphones required).
I just listened to it again and got visceral backflashes of frantic dance-floors full of happy dancers.