We last visited this topic a month ago when the record was preordered but had not yet arrived. Lots has happened since then [including an attempted insurrection of the United States government], but the record finally arrived and I have subsequently bought the second DL remix, so we’re finally ready to dispense thoughts on OMD’s remixes of “Enola Gay.” For a song that had famously been released in 1980 without the then-trendy second remix version on 12″ or even 10″ single, this represents a bit of having cake and eating it too for the band. Technically, that means that these will all be Post-Modern Remixes; the topic of which has been a scourge for PPM with their 1998 attempts in this field of endeavor being among the very worst remixes I’ve ever had the displeasure to hear. But the band’s own 12″ mix is reputed to be an “old school” style extended version. Can they avoid the guillotine 22 years later?
OMD: Enola Gay 2020 Remixes – UK 12″ + DL 
- Enola Gay [Extended Remix]
- Enola Gay [Slow Mix]
- Enola Gay [Hot Chip Remix]
- Enola Gay [Theo Kottis Remix]
The band’s Extended Version began with the distinctive drum machine toms and the bass synth isolated for a classic 12″ buildup lasting almost a full minute as one by one, the rest of the song’s elements join in on the crescendo. It sounds exactly like what we were all expecting in 1980 when we bought the 12″ single but didn’t get. All of the elements here were from the master tape and there aren’t any modern elements that stick out like a sore thumb. If they cheated then they did a great job of it.
The only part where it rankled me is in the drop before the middle eight. First of all, The Drop was not an established part of the remix vernacular at that time. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it was something that came much later in dance music. And the sound fo the song putting on the brakes like that to stop cold was jarring. The middle eight itself was less convincing than the original was with the chilling bomb blast drums of the original dissipated into less monolithic force. I did like the winsome synth leads at the end of the middle eight, though. And McCluskey’s vocals were doubled with chorus on the coda for a different feel. Overall the mix and EQ didn’t vary drastically, which meant that this “Enola Gay” still had the DNA of what we all know and love.
The “Slow Mix” was as its name implied, a radical Post-Modern Remix of the song by the band as someone else would do it today; basically re-constructing the song with a different arrangement, tempo, and even lead vocal. The slow, stately pace was very OMD, but the vocal was vocoded throughout. It might even be a new vocal by Andy given the treatment. The glockenspiel was a delicate touch. I would not be surprised. The melody was constructed here as a methodical rondo which was pretty catchy. The bomb blast drums and the drum machine toms made a re-appearance in the middle eight here, for the only call back to the original mix.
Hot Chip have been one of “those bands” who I’ve heard their name bandied about for 10-15 years without actually hearing. The mix was superficially closest to the original, at least at first, but with a really obnoxious, super busy drum loop loosed in the mix; making it fight the original rhythm box for supremacy. While the droning hum of perhaps a bomber engine assumed the front and center spotlight. it sounded like the mix was fighting itself. And that busy drum loop at a much higher BPM than anything else in the song was flat out wrong. Worse, the drum loop itself sounded dangerously close to the “bongo feet” sound used to indicate running in Scooby Doo cartoons!
At least Andy McCluskey was still in the mix, but his vocal sounded like it may have been a re-recording. Once Andy started singing in the mix, there were new shimmery tremolo synths that sounded as if they were playing the melody from the middle eight of “Good Vibrations” dropped into this hot mess. This mix was pulling in several different ways simultaneously and I can’t listen to it and hear anything worth recommending. It only sounded good as compared to the sheer atrocity of the 1998 Micronauts remix of “Electricity.”
The Theo Kottis remix was just the thing… if you needed to hear “Enola Gay” brought to its knees in a House Mix that flashed me back to 1994. The song featured an echoey Andy McCluskey amid the heavy 808 and I swear that all but the band’s own “Extended Version” used a new vocal track as this one sounded somewhat different to the performance from 1980. It’s not uncommon for “remixes” to be new from the ground up, including vocal, and this one sounded like just that. The accelerated crescendoes of drum machine fills were particularly galling. But not so much as the notion that McCluskey and Humphreys signed off on this mix! Then again, those guys also green-lit Micronauts, so there’s that.
All of these mixes were available in the usual download stores, but my copy of the OMD mixes were from the oxblood 12″ single that I pre-ordered from the UMG web store and was released on November 27th. European copies from the OMD web store in the UK came with a DL voucher and I thought that they all would. But no WAV files was the price I paid for saving a bundle on postage from the US UMG web store. Postage was free in The States. The other upside was that unlike the CZ pressed “Roxy Music” Steven Wilson 2.0 remix LP I got in August, this German [Optimal Media GmbH] pressing sounded perfect! If they have to make me buy vinyl, at least let it sound this good. Since I am interested in buying modern OMD on physical single format I was thrilled that I did not dawdle. This record is now shifting hands at around $50 a pop.
Overall, these mixes run the gamut from almost good to negligible. The band’s mixes are best, and if push came to shove, I’d recommend the band’s “Extended Version” as the one to get as a DL since it almost did the neat trick of sounding like an unheard 12″ mix that got caught in a wormhole and leapt forward in time for 40 years. The rest? Missable, though your mileage may vary.
I haven’t needed an extended Enola Gay for 40 years and nothing presented has changed my mind in that direction. In fact I don’t think anyone needed remixes of the perfection that is Enola Gay.
Echorich – Due to the drop and the middle eight in the one halfway decent thing here, I’m probably inclined to join you. One hopes that no other singles of their get this sort of attention on their 40th anniversary going forward. What was done in 1998 was still traumatic. And you’re right. When I first heard “Enola Gay” on the US OMITS compilation [I thought he was singing “it’s all a game…] it was an immediate stunner. A huge leap forward from “Electricity.”