First and foremost, I would like to extend a hearty thank you to frequent Popdose reader and commenter King of Grief, who volunteered to take my individual mp3 files for these mixes and stitch them back together so y’all don’t have to download the songs one by one. Take a bow, King.
I totally know that with this week’s mix, I’m going to lose half of the people who were excited about the Retro Beat Mix I posted last week. It’s only natural, really: many of us may have been listening to the same bands in the ’80s, but by the late ’90s and especially today, never mind being in the same ballpark – we’re all in completely different universes. Very little of the music on this mix is sexy or cool, but hey, neither am I. I’m just a pop boy.
This mix is actually mixed better than the Retro Beat Mix, however it’s a tad hot. It’s a bit more prominent on Side II, but still, it kills me to listen to those kick drums rattle. As one of the artists on Side II would say, please forgive me.
1. Apollo 440 – Heart Go Boom
I honestly don’t remember what led me to buy this album. CMJ Monthly, probably. Or perhaps it was just a by-product of music going to complete and utter shit after Kurt Cobain killed himself. I wanted something new, and this was my idea of cool at the time. This was easily my favorite song on the album. I just loved the idea of hard rock bar chords, reggae riffs, and drum & bass coexisting in the same song. I loved the idea at the time, anyway; I haven’t played this album since 2001.
2. Les Rythmes Digitales – Soft Machine
He now goes by his Christian name of Stuart Price, but in the late ’90s, when France was the epicenter of all things cool and hip, the France-born but England-raised Price had an idea: what if I pretend I’m French? So he came up with an alter ego, Jacques Lu Cont, and actually held press conferences where he spoke French and had someone translate for him. Boom, he has a recording contract, and Les Rythmes Digitales is born. The album is one big mash note to ’80s dance music, delving into house, funk, and synth pop. (He even got Nik Kershaw to sing on a track.) “Soft Machine” was never a single, but it’s easily my favorite song on the album because, for whatever reason, it reminds me of “Let’s Go All the Way” by Sly Fox. And I fucking love that song.
3. Robbie Williams feat. Kylie Minogue – Kids
As a dyed-in-the-wool Anglophile, I understand why some people have a problem with British pop. It’s just different than the stuff that comes out of the American labs. Still, I never understood why this song wasn’t a hit on our side of the pond. The chorus is about a mile wide, and Kylie sets the record straight: she’s been dropping beats since Back in Black.
4. Moby – Porcelain (Clubbed to Death Remix)
By the end of the ’90s and beginning of this decade, I all but stopped buying remixes. The window had closed on what I liked about remix culture, and the new style – rat-tat-tat-tat-taaaaaaaaaaat-boom! – bored the shit out of me. I bought this single on sight, though, solely because of the name of the guy who mixed the A-side. As the title suggests, this track was mixed by Rob D (check your Matrix soundtrack), who adds a whole lotta kick drum and strips Moby’s vocal out of it entirely.
5. Cowboy Mouth – Easy
One of these things is most definitely not like the other. I became a fan of the band from New Orleans after watching them give the almighty Cheap Trick a run for their money at a concert in Chicago, and that intro was just begging to be used in a beat mix, but for one small problem: it’s only eight beats long. So I got an idea. Since I can rewind back to the original starting point with the push of a button, why not just manually loop the beat four times? And so I did. The third one’s a little off, but oh well. And as it turned out, this song proved to be a good jumping point for the next one.
6. Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’
That sound you heard was Lord Jefito spewing obscenities. You’ll hear it two more times, as he and the Fatboy aren’t the best of mates. Ah, but I loved You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, so his inclusion here was a given. Plus, it only makes sense to put this song before the next one…
7. Beastie Boys – Body Movin’ (Fatboy Slim Remix)
The definitive version of this song, for my money. I watched Norman do a DJ gig as the opening act for the Chemical Brothers, and I have to say, I’ve never seen someone whip a crowd into a frenzy like he did. He kept raising the tempo until he put on “All Day and All of the Night,” then he did something amazing: he turned down all the drum machines that were playing along to his tracks, and just let the Kinks do the talking. When the song ended, the crowd exploded. But that seemed like a bubble popping compared to when he played this. Then the place became a free-for-all. The poor Chemical Brothers didn’t stand a chance after that, though they certainly brought some noise of their own.
8. The Micronauts – The Jag
Few songs rocked my world quite like this one did. I’m not even sure how I found the soundtrack to Splendor, but once I saw that a) it was distributed by Astralwerks, and b) featured a ton of my favorite bands getting remixed by my other favorite bands, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t heard of the movie it represented. (I still have not even accidentally stumbled upon the movie that inspired this soundtrack.) And funnily enough, it would be “The Jag,” the only song or artist I didn’t know, that would turn out to be my favorite. One thing’s for sure: I will never hear “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” the same way again.
9. Art of Noise – Close (To the Edit)
I hadn’t mixed the song in a while, and it’s one of my favorite songs, ever. I play bass, but I thought about quitting after I saw Trevor Horn play this bass line live on that Slaves to the Rhythm DVD.
Much like Side I, only faster.
1. U2 – Lemon (Perfecto Mix)
I usually hate remixes that change the chord sequences to the songs. It feels like the remixer is overstepping his bounds. Your job isn’t to rewrite the song – it’s to remix the song. This is the sole exception to that rule. Paul Oakenfold took the oddest song U2 had recorded at that point in their career and turned it into a dark wave masterpiece.
2. Simply Red – Fairground
Conversely, this mix is the reason why I don’t like it when remixers get involved with the songwriting. They were wise to emphasize the kick drum, since the drum track in the album version to “Fairground” is a bit too soft for beat mixing purposes. But the chords they inserted into the chorus just piss me off. What was wrong with the original chords? Love the song, hate this mix. And isn’t it funny that they’ll make a nine-minute mix of a song, but arrange it in such a way that the DJ will only play two minutes of it? Dude, do you want the people dancing to hear your work or not?
3. Chicane – Saltwater
Another nine-minute track of which just under three minutes is necessary, but I’ll cut this one some slack. This is one of the few electronic albums I bought at the turn of the decade that I play with as much regularity as my day job will allow. It’s just so damn pretty, and thoughtful. And I love Maire Brennan’s voice.
4. Fatboy Slim – Sunset (Bird of Prey)
Here’s how much slack I was willing to give Fatboy Slim at the time: he sampled Jim Morrison and I didn’t mind. Yes, the sameness of his arrangements was starting to reveal itself, but I liked the drum track he put together here. Sure, it’s nothing like the dismantling of “Block Rockin’ Beats” that he did on another track from the same era, but I liked that the snare was a little unpredictable, and that he was interested in other things than four-on-the-floor kick drum.
5. Electronic – Make It Happen
I always descibed this song as the Stone Roses getting remixed by the Chemical Brothers. In fact, it was such a massively awesome opening track that I actually had a hard time getting past it and listening to the rest of the album.
6. Pet Shop Boys – You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk
Nightlife is not the best Pet Shop Boys album, but it has its moments, and this is one of them. Trading out the album version’s “Rent”-like cool for some bleeps and bloops (plus that Mac voice program that Radiohead immortalized on “Fitter, Happier”), the Pet Shop Boys continued their longtime ownership of my soul.
7. David Gray – Please Forgive Me
I always do dry runs of my mixes before recording, and I kept running into a problem. There is a substantial difference in speed between the Pet Shop Boys tune and this, to the point where I would have to speed the former up and the latter down so much that they’d sound ridiculous. So I used the same looping trick that I did with “Easy” – made all the more difficult by having only four beats to work with instead of eight – knowing that “Please Forgive Me’s” drum track by itself wouldn’t sound as bad slowed down as the drum track plus piano would. I looped that drum bit about seven or eight times, then once “Drunk” was gone, slowly sped up “Please Forgive Me” to regular speed and let it loose. There is an official remix of this song, but it doesn’t touch the album version.
8. Radiohead – Idioteque
Somewhere in my Acid files is an unfinished remix of “Idioteque” where I spliced in bits of Blur’s “MOR,” Radiohead’s “Packd Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box,” and the Chemical Brothers songs “Elektrobank” and “Setting Sun.” It was pretty cool, actually. Not sure why I didn’t finish it.
9. Hooverphonic – Battersea
God, I love this song. It always struck me as the kid sister of Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy.” Lots of strings, busy drum track, and minor chords by the pound. The CD that I ripped this from was chewed up like a dog toy, so if the song sounds suddenly brighter, that’s where King of Grief cut from the beat mix to a CD rip of the album version.