White Label Friday: Candy Flip, “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Written by Music, Popdose, White Label

whitelabel.gifThere is just no other way to say it: 1990 was an awful, awful year for music.

The first #1 single of the year belonged to a certain no-talent ass clown. The first act to score two #1 singles that year was Wilson Phillips. Hammer. Jane Child. Vanilla Ice. Stevie B. Linear. Tommy Page. Fucking “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You.” You Mutt Lange apologists out there, start apologizing.

This ripple of suck did not confine itself to the pop charts, either. Modern rock floated aimlessly, as if unsure whether Depeche Mode or Faith No More led the way to the promised land. Hard rock, represented by Guns ‘n’ Roses and Metallica two years ago, now meant Alias and Nelson. The 1990 sassy UK female export was…Betty Boo. Sinead O’Connor released her best album that year, then proceeded to alienate the music-buying public by tearing up a picture of the Pope on national television. One of the biggest club hits involved Suzanne Vega and a Soul II Soul beat. Another involved sampling the Smiths. The rest featured Martha Wash (audio only, not video).

It sort of makes sense then, amidst all of this chaos, that someone would think a dance-oriented remake of “Strawberry Fields Forever” was a good idea.

Taking their name from the slang for mixing ecstasy and acid (yikes), the duo known as Candy Flip were smack dab in the middle of a revolution, the rave-friendly Madchester scene, when genius struck. (Yes, it was only the drugs talking, but go with it for a second.) With the Stone Roses, Charlatans and Soup Dragons cribbing from the psychedelic sounds of the ’60s, the time was clearly right to record a modern-day version of one of the Beatles’ most adventurous songs, and anchor it with James Brown’s not-quite-yet-ubiquitous “Funky Drummer.” Now, this being Manchester and 1990, the vocal has to be breathy; think the Beloved’s “Hello” or the Pet Shop Boys’ “Being Boring,” only breathier. Also, the “Funky Drummer” track must be stripped of anything that once resembled funk. Add a tambourine, and wash the whole thing in reverb. Lastly, use the least organic-sounding piano and string programs available, so the entire track feels like it was never touched by human hands.

Your personal results, of course, may vary.

Truth be told, I loved “Strawberry Fields Forever” (download) upon its release. In retrospect, I have definitely used better judgment than I did here, and the remixes did little to help my cause. In fact, mixes like the Raspberry Ripple Remix (download) downright stupefy me, because no one would ever dance to something so low-energy and lifeless, so why make the mix at all? The mix provided by UK remix subscription company D.M.C. (download) fares the best, though it is every bit as dated as the other two versions; it’s just dated in a different way. You have to give remixer Dakeyne credit, though, for having the guts to make fun of the original for using “Funky Drummer” in the first place; he begins his mix with a couple loops of it, then pulls the needle from the record and shouts, “Hold it, that’s played out!”

It will surprise no one to learn that Candy Flip made one album, with one more single of note (“Redhills Road”), and promptly bit the dust as soon as the rave scene fell out of style. I never heard the album, Madstock…, but if Allmusic is to be believed, it’s a four and a half-star near-classic. Really? Four and a half stars? And it’s selling for just over a buck on Amazon? Oh, I have to hear this for myself. Yes, I’m aware that I just spent this entire piece making fun of Candy Flip, but what can I say – I’m one of those people who just never learn.