While the first two batches of Roxy Color Remixes were single or double 12″ singles; Purple, the third in the series, was an approachable 7″ single! One thing was for certain. There would not be any remixes scraping the ten minute mark. As the cover art of Amanda Lear presaged, these mixes would be digging deep into Roxy archaeology. How would remixes of the 21st century fare with source materials well over 30 years old?
Roxy Music: Remixes [Purple] UK 7″/DL 
- Editions Of You [Phones Mix] 5:31
- Virginia Plain [Headman Re-Work] 3:49
The Phones Mix of “Editions Of You” quickly answered that question with “a radical dubstep version of the 1973 classic…what did you expect?!” The telltale, rubbery dubstep bass pattern started out adorned with a snatch of Andy MacKay’s sleazy sax; one of just three elements of the original present here. Then as the tension built, a sample of Bryan Ferry saying “Boys will be boys” was looped incessantly for what seemed like over a minute of the 5:31 remix. At a certain plateau, thrashing drums joined the primitive bleeps and the increasingly manipulated Ferry sample unit the breaking point was reached at the halfway point, where everything dropped out save for Ferry’s vocals [now allowed to sing the song], the rhythm, and Eno’s synth solo, given new prominence here. Then, after Ferry was through, the thrashing began anew.
I should hate this, as it continues some of my pet peeve remix tropes in the 21st century. Namely, heavy [ab]use of a single vocal phrase repeated until the breaking point is surpassed. But the effect here was so over the top that it leapt beyond cariacature into a place where I could only gape in wonderment. The net effect of the inhuman, machine-like repetition of the Ferry performance here rated this a place on the shelf next to my vastly favorite song by The Cars, that also played this card, albeit in a much more innocent time. This reminds me of “Shoo-Be-Doo.” As a result, this sticks in my cranium in spite of my better judgement.
I have no such cognitive dissonance with the superb Headman Re-Work of the seminal “Virginia Plain.” This is another careful remix of a positively ancient track that takes pains to color within the outlines to remix it as if it might have been done in 1979 at the latest, and even then with the utmost sensitivity. A variant on the time-worn track has been given a new slant using almost all of the original components. You have to love the famous heraldic guitar riff of Phil Manzanera given naked prominence in the extended intro buildup. The sound of his fingers sliding on the frets without anything else in the sound field gives this a real intimacy.
Ferry’s lead vocal has been subtly given a dose of chorus, and possibly Paul Thompson’s drums have been re-sampled into a more metronomic loop like these kids seem to want nowadays. Once Ferry begins singing, the overall effect hews closely to the original, albeit with the elements given slightly altered prominence. One can hear MacKay’s sax much more clearly, but some of Eno’s synths sound like modern ringers, unless they used alternate takes. His solo on the middle eight sounds like it may have been reversed. I did love the extended break after Ferry sings “got to search for something new” and they left in studio ambience and control room chatter that’s barely discernible. The famous cold ending has been goosed with a final off-beat from the snare for almost comedic effect. As if someone had applied blue eye shadow to the Mona Lisa. In the best possible sense.
So going in, this was a pretty successful remix excursion for some of Roxy Music’s oldest [and most iconic] material. One mix was irreverent at best, while the other managed to make the succinct classic into something that could win over the stoutest of hearts. At the end of the day, a winner for me.
Next: …Shades of Blue