Album Reviews: February 2006


Future Retro - Various (Rhino) 24/01/2004

A lot has been made of retro tracks, compilations and samples recently. A lot of criticism has been dished out regarding the quantity of new talent etc. emerging in the worldwide dance music scene, across so many genres, versus the constant stream of 'Retro remixes'. Largely, I think, it is a commercial issue, if punters are willing to buy the retro stuff then record companies will produce it. Also, with the 'poor' record labels struggling so much with piracy issues and the internet, their back catalogues are a veritable treasure trove for the new generations of music fans who didn't hear the tracks first time around anyway.

For me, its a question of taste and quality. Many genres of music have been founded on the reworking and sampling etc. of older material. The classic hip hop tracks of the eighties all drew on the basics of the old Motown, blues and rock'n'roll. So often though the tracks that emerge as 'worthy' remakes as it were, had a certain style and quality that generated a whole new feeling of respect and awe. They added something to the original or celebrated it for some reason. The trashy covers that are just plastic remoulds of previous tracks will all have their place in the collections of spotty 13 year old girls and superficial fashion victims.

So where does this collection of eighties remakes lie on the scale? Well, as a collection its ok. There are some awesome remixes and some that are just remoulds. I know that all this depends on personal taste and preference so I will try to be as objective as I can. First up is The Cure, "The Walk- Infusion remix". Ok, doesn't really do much for me. The vocal is largely in tact and the track is pretty good, but as a whole I can't see it standing alone against other tracks around now.

The Richard X remix of Yaz's Situation" is a different story. The track builds well and is not too obviously linked to the original. It has a fresh flavour of its own, but has of course stolen heavily from the original arrangement. It's more of a poppy mix as you expect from Richard X but there's nothing wrong with mainstream. Again the vocal is pretty much all there. Having said that the more I listen to this track the more pop it becomes.

It does sometimes come down to what you have to work with. The INXS remix of 'Need you tonight' by the Static Revenger has all the basic materials there. But then some purists would say you shouldn't fuck with this sort of track. It was and is such a legendary track in its original format. Then again this remix doesn't do the obvious and hammer the guitar riff too much, but its difficult to escape the originals purity and stamp a new face on to this modern classic. Undecided here.

The TIGA remix of Depeche Mode's "Shake the Disease" is a interesting track. Very minimal in its treatment with an almost electro feel to it initially, it then builds in to something more arty and dark. A really good example of adding something new to a old track. The Jaded Alliance Electrospect remix of Erasure's "Give A Little Respect" starts really well with all the funky beats and effects and then drops into a boring vocal regurgitation. A shame that the track wasn't developed a lot more as I think the basic elements are there to make a really unusual track.

And so the beats goes on, a few other worthy mentions should be made of the Adam Freeland remix and the DJ Irene rockstar mix of Book of Loves "Boy", both unexpected in their treatment. But otherwise a lot of the same thing, good quality, well produced remakes, too closely mirroring the originals to ever create any new flavour. As a very wise monk on toilet cleaning duty once said, 'Same shit, different bucket!'.

I am not saying these tracks aren't good, all the producers enlisted know their stuff and have done good jobs, but I think the record company should have allowed them to go more medieval on the assets of the originals! All in all a good collection but there will be some, me included, that feel this is just a commercial cash crop rather than genuine musical alchemy!

P.S. Considering I never really liked Morrissey, the Sparks remix of Suedehead is pretty pukka! 6/10

Nic Caesar

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