Blow Monkeys Box Full Of “Animal Magic” Exerts Animal Magnetism [part 2]

Blow Monkeys band foreground
Blow Monkeys original lineup L-R: Neville Henry, Mick Anker, Robert Howard, Tony Kiley

[…continued from last post]


Disc three was where the program was deep in remixes of the five singles form the “Animal Magic” album. In fact, the disc was filled with remixes of just four of the five singles. As an American, I often don’t have too much to be proud of, but in this case, I’ll take what I can get! Only the band’s US label thought as highly of the cut “Sweet Murder” as I did; enough to have issued it as a 12″ single for clubs. Which was as correct a response to the awesome Reggae-tinged belter as I could hope for.

blow monkeys sweet murder

The tracks was remixed by Axel Kröll and Michael Baker, who had turned “Digging Your Scene” into the shiny hit that made the band’s fortunes the world over, but the crucial element of these mixes were the frantic edits courtesy of Albert Cabrera and Tony Moral; better known to you perhaps, as The Latin Rascals. The succinct single mix managed to trim the lengthy 6:31 album cut by half, yet it still had the class to open with the wah wah guitar licks of Dr. Robert which roped me in as usual. The “Sweat Beat Version] was an equally brief dub mix where the stripped down beat was the foundation of the duo’s calling card hard break edits that turned the Reggae-adjacent track into a beatbox throwdown suitable for B-boys anywhere.

The Latin Rascals were masters of tape editing and the juncture between Freestyle and Electro

The first single from the album had been the transitional probing of “Forbidden Fruit” that was the obvious link between the first and second album vibes. The 12″ version was an old school extended mix, with the 3:56 track allowed 5:51 to have its full performance exist unedited with a new middle eight and further ad libs from Dr. Robert and swooping backing vocals framing his expansive guitar solo on the extended coda.

blow monkeys forbidden fruit cover art
RCA | UK | 2×12″ | 1985 | PT 40334
blow monkeys it pays to be twelve

I got a taste of just how thorough the curation of this BSOG was with the next track. Listed as “Digging Your Scene [Digging Your Re-Mix]” that always made me think of the Phil Harding mix called that on the 10″ single of the hit. But the Phil Harding mix was 7:35 and included as track ten of this disc. This was in comparison, only 6:00 minutes long. As it turns out, this was the “Digging Your Remix” as included on the 1988 single “It Pays To Be Twelve 12″ PT 42232R. And it was an edit of the longer, earlier 10” version. In fact, the first four minutes were exactly the same, but after that it was possible to edit out 88 seconds of song to effortlessly replicate the mix in my wave editor. But I’ll also say that playing the two mix edits simultaneously in my DAW made for a fascinating new remix! [memo to self…]

The “Digging Your Scene [12″ Mastermind Mix]” was from something even further in the future from that. It was one of the two previously unreleased remix tracks that convinced me to buy the 1996 compilation “For The Record” [Camden 74321 393342] As the name implied, this was a rough-riding mashup of several different 12″ mixes of the hit done with scant regard for continuity of vibe as the EQ wildly vacillated from point to point on the track such as it may have been the entire point of the mix. I liked the zingy rhythm guitar isolation at points in the mix, but a bar or two later the hard beat edits were from another galaxy completely. And why was there a dropout of the vocal after “it’ll get you in the end,” completely missing the crucial lyric “it’s god’s revenge.” but highlighting a guitar lick instead? Hmmmm.

the blow monkeys - off the record cover art

The “US Mix” of “Digging Your Scene” was the nearly minute longer 7″ mix, that led with the strings and sax for the instrumental first 40 seconds. This was previously only on the US 7″, which I had just finally bought a copy of last year. The “Wicked Ways [Wick-ed-it Version]” was the most radical reshuffling of the “Wicked Ways” single; courtesy of the North American 12″ers of the song. It was remixed by John Morales + Sergio Munzibar [a.k.a. M+M Productions] yet it was further edited by Popstand [Justin Strauss + Murray Elias]. So the enhanced timbale percussion and plethora of Freestyle edits that allowed free reign of Dr. Robert’s scatting made for the funkiest version yet of this track. The organ dubs nestled in tightly with the clavinet already there. Drops that gave us some bass love were right in the pocket. At 5:30, the thought was to maybe leave us wanting more. When I’m in the mood for a “Wicked Ways” remix,” this is where I’ll be reaching from now on. It’s hard to believe that I never got a US 12″ of the title, apart from this one where only the 7″ remix was included.

After all of these “Digging” remixes, the “original” UK 12″ mix [also on the US 12″] came across as a little conservative next to the busier, funkier, NYC edits we’d been hearing lately. This one was about the smooth sax and string synths, but the EQ differences and reverb effects on the vocal and percussion tracks made sure to push the envelope a little in any case. Only at the track’s midpoint did we get the sort of edits and breaks more common elsewhere. The 6:20 UK “Wicked Ways” 12″ mix was an unedited version of the 7″ single mix, with the same overdubs and a touch of dub in the long percussive coda.

blow monkeys - digging your scene 10" remix
RCA | UK | 10″ | 1986 | MONK Y1

Then we got the full-Monty Phil Harding “Digging Your Re-Mix.” I was happy to see this issued on a UK 10″ back in the 80s, and at the end of the day, this is the mix to take home to the wife and kids. Phil Harding was at the top of his game then and the drum machine beat was softened by congas and cowbell in the extended intro. The BV “do-do-dos” were isolated, along with deft guitar work to carry us off to paradise in the zestiest way possible.

Next, Dr. Robert began scatting his way into our hearts before breaking with the first verse at the 90 second mark. The jaunty keyboard riff gamboled throughout the song in this mix, acting as our rhythmic guide. Neville Henry’s sax solo at the mix’s midpoint felt like a different take than what was by now a very familiar thing, so I always approve when unused takes factor in a remix. It feels like a prize. Then the mix ended like it began with a chilled out coda having same elements that the intro had in reverse.

Next: …What About That Fifth Single?

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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