The second single, “Jimmy Jimmy,” had been re-recorded and mixed for something more jovial for pop radio. The minimal template of the album version had been goosed with a few more synth fills and a vastly different EQ on its still compulsive rhythms for something a bit less bare-bones. The second instance of slight provocation of the lyrics were gone on the 7″ single version. After all, we were still deep in the dark heart of Reagan’s America and even Ric Ocasek could not draw attention to its failings. The vocoded “America” refrain was still there, in stealth, as usual.
Reissue label Rubellan Remasters insured monastic perfection by including the contents of the US promo 12″ version of “Prove.” Here the minimal synth funk of the original had been juiced up with some extra synths, clavinet, and more prominent percussive whomps for that Prince sound to become a little more pronounced. That this happened before “Little Red Corvette” was a hit showed how much ahead of the curve Ocasek was. It would take the mainstream pop charts a further three years for that to happen. The tracks was extended another six minutes by including a longer intro and room for keyboard and synth solos in the middle of the cut as well as a coda following the guitar solo that normally ended the track.
Next, the masterstroke remix of “Connect Up To Me” by François Kevorkian and Mark Fotiadis was also included. The 7:20 mix was a bit shorter than the cassette version but even more vital. We knew things would be different when the robotically sampled voice of Ocasek saying “connect…connect…” added more technology to the intro. The choral patches after the second verse brought more vocal samples and the filtered vocals of the third verse. The hissing, pneumatic hi-hats than opened up the track into dubspace where it simply became sublime. With the vocoders and the bass synth locked into a groove that was unbeatable as Ocasek’s vocals were dubbed out for magical effect. The moment where Ocasek’s delivery of “connect up to me, I need your nite life… yeah!” with the interjected “yeah” given a pingpong reverb on each channel with as dry an EQ as possible was utterly magical. This track more than any I’ve heard succeeds in capturing the enervated, giddy passion that Bryan Ferry was also searching for in the night life. And it’s been in my skull all week.
Finally, the long, new extended version of the single “Jimmy Jimmy” made the best of its slight shift to a more upbeat key. The perfect technopop of the song might have lost some of the shading of the album version here, but what it gained in energy served as adequate recompense. I like both versions for different reasons. This Kevorkian mix also got a little dub energy, but not as much as “Connect Up To Me” did. If the album version pointed to Suicide, this version seemed to have The Buggles as its aim, and that’s not a bad thing.
As we’re now accustomed to, Rubellan Remasters have produced another great sounding, well curated remaster. As the waveform of the “Connect Up To Me” extended remix shows below.
This is another best of breed reissue that gave me new insights to Ric Ocasek’s talent at a point where I had lost interest in his work due to the safeness of The Cars post-“Panorama” output. Barring one or two throwbacks to The Cars sound [albeit stronger that what actual Cars albums might have had at the time] most of the program here very definitely explores the promise inherent in a solo album. Only Greg Hawkes from The Cars mothership showed up on this program, and elsewhere a few interesting talents added to the mix of guitar and keys that Ocasek helmed throughout. Stephen George, drummer for Ministry [Mk I] and Stephen Hauge played a lot of keys here; along with his bandmate Jules Shear who added BVs for “Prove.”
The spirit of Suicide and the Velvet Underground are what really inform the music here, and the heavy reliance on synthetic sound, even beyond what we expect from Cars albums, pushed this one into the monastic pleasurezone. This was an album to stand very proudly along side the under-appreciated “Panorama” and in many ways represents the next true step beyond that recording, instead of “Shake It Up.” I’ve been listening heavily to this for at least a fortnight and it’s repaid my debt with interest!
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I finally had my collection of extra tracks completed with the US Promo 12″ mixes just a short time ago so luckily I don’t need to get this immediately. It’s great to see this album treated and expanded so carefully. As the only legal CD from 1997 fetches high prices I guess this will be sold out pretty soon and rightly so.
slur – The label stated that 1000 were pressed. Caveat emptor. Though it may get a smaller repress as we have seen with the “Visage” album.