Record Review: Tom Tom Club – “Don’t Say No” Marshall Jefferson Remixes UK 12″

tom tom club - don't say no remixes cover art
Fontana | UK | 12″ | 1988 | TCBXR 1

Tom Tom Club: Don’t Say No [Marshall Jefferson Remixes] – UK – 12″ – [1988]

  1. Don’t Say No [Pumpin’ Acid Mix]
  2. Don’t Say No [Short Cool Mix]
  3. Don’t Say No [Say Yes To Love Mix]
  4. Devil, Does Your Dog Bite

I’ve got some ways to go on the Tom Tom Club Unnamed Rarities Project of all of their remixes and stray non-LP tracks that I hope to make one day. But I do have both UK 12″ releases of “Don’t Say No” on the racks. I still need the CD single with a loose percapella version only there. A generation ago I used to be precious about sourcing any such tracks from CD singles first, and would buy the CD5 first. Then I would get any other 12″ers for the other mixes, but I’m nowhere near as precious these days.

marshall jefferson
Marshall Jefferson ca. 1988

In 1988, there was nothing more trendy than House music, and give credit to Tom Tom Club for going to one of the Chicago House architects and having Marshall Jefferson craft their remix 12″ from this single from their troubled third album, “Boom Boom, Chi Boom Boom.” I liked the crisp, spartan 808 drum sound on the Pumpin’ Acid Mix and the guitar glissando kept back from the album mix was a decadent allusion amid all of the stripped back, hardfloor sound. But immediately, the vocal sample of Tina Weymouth saying “boy,” repeated way too many times for my taste, threatened to derail this remix within the first thirty seconds. I do have a taste for Acid House. I have always liked the squelchy synths, but the repeated vocal sample trope of House was something that had never worn well with my ears. The distinctive acid sequencers didn’t even arrive until almost a minute into this mix, but I did appreciate how Jefferson had kept the dove cooing sample hook intact from the LP mix, though he used it in a very different fashion here.

After hearing the “boy” sample about 300 times, the other vocal sample that would distinguish this remix was Tina saying the title forwards/backwards; which was also repeated about 16 times too many right off the bat. Followed with another 300 repetitions of the “boy” sample! This was tedium for my ears, until four minutes in when the squealing, distorted guitar solo managed to liven things up. I’ll guess it was the Tom Tom Club guitarist of the time, Mark Roule, but since there’s no guitar credit for the album on that track, and none on this sleeve, it may have been a sampled bit of “acid” guitar. As it stood, this was the only interesting aspect of this cut for my ears. I can’t believe I’d not heard the juxtaposition of acid guitar within Acid House anywhere else before. There gave been Acid House mixes I’d liked before, but not this one. The overuse of the vocal samples just kills my interest dead like few other dance music tropes.

The Short Cool Mix was yes, about a minute shorter, but way cooler! It emphasized a mixture of congas from the original mix and the 808 programming of Jefferson, with the doves again showing up. Where the mix really won for me was in having Tina’s bass line and vocal filling out this new setting he’d crafted for the song. I loved how Tina’s whispered intro dialogue was used here. Except for the full vocal getting the emphasis, the mix was closer to a dub of the track. The guitar glissando was also used here and fit into the mix comfortably. A real winner after the previous track.

The third Jefferson remix was the 4:30 Say Yes To Love Mix. And it played out like an edit of the Pumpin’ Acid Mix minus the long buildup. The same 4 samples of “boy” for every beat in the bar. Just more torture for these ears. I dare to “Say No” To Say Yes To Live Mix. Apart from the guitar glissando and the dove/vocal sample, I daresay all of this was down to what Jefferson did afterwards…and symptomatic with the repetition issues and the conceit of creating a remix that was actually a new track instead that plagued me about remixes for a generation. When the guitar solo showed up at the coda, it was too little, loo late.

married to the mob soundtrack cover art
Reprise Records | US | CD | 1988 | 9 25763-2

“Devil, Does Your Dog Bite” was a song, presumably from the “Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom” sessions, that first manifested as a cut on the “Married To The Mob” OST earlier that year. It was the B-side to all UK editions and formats of the “Don’t Say No” single. A bigger contrast you could hardly have with the bucolic, almost folk tune, touched with hoedown fiddles, horns, and nary a microchip within a three mile radius. This was one of the occasional Tom Tom Club songs where Chris Frantz took the lead vocal on it and it may have ended up being an outlier to the band’s cover of the Zydeco song “Only the Strong Survive” on the 2004 “Creole Bred” Zydeco tribute album that was a generation in the band’s future at that point.

creole bred album cover art
Vanguard | US | CD | 2004 | 79741-2

patsystoneAs I had the “Married To The Mob” CD since it came out, the Short Cool Mix was definitely the goods on this remix 12″ that justified the two dollars that I dropped on this single. With the penchant for dull, soulless daaaaaaaaance music in the late 80s/90s the potential was there to be a lot worse.


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12 Responses to Record Review: Tom Tom Club – “Don’t Say No” Marshall Jefferson Remixes UK 12″

  1. Tim says:

    Not familar with these and not sure that I want to aside from the one that you suggest (for for for for for for for for for for obvious reasons) but generally I like his work. His take on Pet Shop Boys ”Being Boring” is quite good.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Well stated! It must be mentioned that Tom Tom Club was right on this Marshall Jefferson action at the very beginning. This was one of the earliest remixes credited to Jefferson in his career. PSB were a few years down the road, and he learned to move on from the s-s-s-s-s-saaamples. The mix that didn’t rely on this trope was quite nice!


  2. It took me forever to “get” singles like this, where there is one (if you’re lucky!) “actually incorporates the song” mix that may or may not give the song a different, interesting setting or other such gimmick, accompanied by a bunch of noodling, sample-heavy additional “mixes” that barely used anything from the actual original piece of music.

    I don’t know if this is true, but my working theory is that the other tracks on such singles are designed almost exclusively to be mixed in to either the original song or the “good” remix by a live DJ to extend and/or transition in or out of the next/previous track. In short, they’re intentional filler and should be ignored appropriately.

    But I didn’t “get” this before buying a bunch of such remix singles and actively hating half-to-80-percent of the tracks, wondering why anyone would value them. Thank heavens for Razormaid – remixers who rarely wasted my time and money!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim says:

      I think that is the most creative take I’ve ever heard about the exhausting slew of remixes that were commissioned in the mid-1990’s.

      I am not sure if I agree with it as mixing from a hit version to one of these trance/house/acid/tribal/drum and bass mixes can sound like a real speed bump.

      A lot of them from this era speciacally are just lost on me and it was enough to compel me to stop being a completionist for a lot of bands that I liked. It just wasn’t economically worth it, probably never was but when the bang for your buck fell so precipitously it became really easy to wean myself from it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Tim – That specifically was the reason why I stopped cold turkey with a lot of bands I “collected” in the 90s. I have gotten a single Pet Shop Boys and Erasure album post 1994. I really enjoyed “Fundamental” and “Cowboy” but that’s as far as it’s gone.


  3. Echorich says:

    I may be a purist when it comes to Acid House, but it’s my belief that the genre works when the music is an original piece. That is to say, the history of Acid House Remixes of song from other genres tends to run into the “I wish they hadn’t” category for me. In and around 1988, everyone from New Order to Pet Shop Boys to Mel + Kim put the tag Acid House Remix on their releases. But good or bad they always seemed a bit forced or tacked on.
    I will say that Tom Tom Club at least went to the source and really allowed Jefferson to re-imagine Don’t Say No – but, the use of sampling Tina’s “Boy” and using as an element of the music only begins to make sense once the rest of the “acidic” features of the track begin to build up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – You are so right. “Acid House” bolted onto a pop hit was always a musical Frankenstein’s Monster. If you heard the pop hit first, it was always compromised as an afterthought by artists who were just jumping the bandwagon. And everyone was jumping that bandwagon by 1988! The one act that did it with style to spare for my ears were The Blow Monkeys! And maybe New Order, to a lesser extent. As far as this single, I would have been fine with squelchy synths and 808s a-go-go. It was always a sound I had time for. But the heavy handed vocal sample repetition was never a sound I cared for at all.

      Hated. It.


      • Echorich says:

        The term Acid House became an early tag for what was turning into the British Rave Scene in 88/89. So many tracks with Acid Remix on them were nothing more than sample happy mixes looking to get club or radio play. I stayed true to the genre pioneers, Pierre, Jefferson, Adonis…


  4. Pingback: 80s Soundtrack Week: Thursday – “Married To The Mob” US CD | Post-Punk Monk

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