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Rockwell once said he felt like somebody was watching him. Odds are, it was Animotion.

Have you taken a close look at the lyrics to “Obsession” lately? This gives “Every Breath You Take” and “Stan” a run for their money on the Stalker Anthem scale. Bill Wadhams’ lines are harmless enough (“My need to possess you has consumed my soul / My life is trembling, I have no control”), which makes his part of the song an ancestor of sorts to “Baby, One More Time…,” the vulnerable-but-misguided kind of pop song. Astrid Plane’s lines, though, are of the Jame Gumb variety. “I will have you. Yes, I will have you / I will find a way and I will have you / Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly / I will collect you and capture you.” Yikes. Make sure and put the lotion in the basket while you’re at it.

This mix of the song – done by our good friend Mark S. Berry, who mixed Yes’ “Rhythm of Love” – didn’t appear until a year after the song’s release, as the B-side to the “I Engineer” 12″ single. It keeps the song relatively intact, but makes one crucial change that elevates the mix to another level, something he did with the Yes track as well: he amped up the drum track and, more importantly, he made the drum track sound like real drums. Listen to the styrofoam that passes for a drum track in the original version:

Awful, just awful, and Berry has no use for it. Using the then-standard build-up, Berry keeps the shakea-shakea-shakea percussion riff, then pushes a couple busy bass and keyboard loops to the forefront before unloading that first snare drum SLAM, kick kick SNARE kick kick, SNARE. Finally, the song has balls, and for the first – and only – time, Animotion sounds like a rock band. And a clean one at that – the original mix seems so muddy by comparison. To these ears, this stands as the definitive version of the song, and the archivists seem to agree; this mix appears as a bonus track on the band’s most well-known hits compilation, with the original 12″ mix serving as the new “full-length” version of the song.

This incarnation of the band made two albums before getting a near-total overhaul in 1989 and re-emerging with two new singers, among other things. (We’d make a statement about how the later version of the band sounded nothing like Animotion, but since we’re not sure exactly what defines Animotion’s sound, we’re not sticking our necks out.) The Astrid Plane replacement, Cynthia Rhodes, went on to become Mrs. Richard Marx, but we’re guessing that Marx doesn’t allow this song to be played around the house. He always struck us as the prudish type.

BONUS: Mark Berry talks to Popdose about mixing “Obsession”

Hey David, Thank you for your email and Happy New Year…yes, here’s my recollection of Animotion…

I was hired by the head of Urban A&R at Polygram in NYC, Jerome Gasper to do this remix…he called me when I was in London, England producing an act for Polygram over there. Jerome had put me on retainer to do remixes for the label where I did many for the urban department. Jerome FedExed the song masters to me at my hotel and I booked SARM EAST studios owned by Trevor Horn and the ZTT gang. I had done several other remixes there so I was very comfortable there as well. My good Friend was engineer Paul Staveley O’Duffy (Swing Out Sister) and he was hanging with me that weekend…

The mix started out with overdubs first; the horn stabs throughout the remix were actually sampled from a Frankie Goes To Hollywood recording that was lying around SARM (how appropriate). I then re-sampled the snare and bass drum through an AMS sampler….had to flip the tape over and record the snare and bass drum through a delay to another set of tracks so that the triggered signal was in front of the beat as there was an inherent delay in the AMS unit. We then just delayed the signal with the tape flipped back the correct way until the sample fell directly on top of original signal. It was a little sluggish, as the original drum beat had some velocity settings that the AMS did not grab, so we had to go through and make sure that we grabbed all the beats resetting the AMS for everyone we missed. What a pain in the ass…

Polygram was very nervous as the single was starting to explode at radio and they wanted the remix ASAP. Jerome was calling every hour. Basically took a standard approach to the actual mix. We mixed to 1/2 inch tape and did all the cuts over the 2 days in the studio…Paul played the AMS for the horn stabs, constantly tuning and detuning the stabs…pushed up the bass a lot as it was quite funky as it was tucked in on the original 7″ mix…I kept the percussion front and center, as that was kind of driving the remix.

I was not sure if I was going to include the guitar solo at the end, as it was a little out of my field as a remixer at the time, but after we cut the piece in it worked as we went to another breakdown. The band was not around but I did speak with John Ryan from Chicago, the original producer, to clarify a few musical ideas as well.

We used lotsa reverb and kept the vocals as tucked in as possible so that the groove took over…

That’s as much as my memory can take at the moment, ha…

Animotion – Obsession (Remix)