When The Guitarist Met The DJ
There once was a time when major record labels had more money than they could wave a big stick at. The kind of cash that they could throw around and experiment with, and if the product didn't succeed, the label guy would continue in his job and the band wouldn't be dropped. This was known as artist development and most groups would get a few years before they were dropped if things didn't work out commercially. This is not the case anymore as most artists these days have to have 1 million TikTok viewers before they even release a single, let alone have a variety of products or remixes thrown their way. Those days are now sadly long gone and the A&R depts have changed beyond recognition within the few surviving major labels. During this era of filthy lucre being earned by artists through physical sales, this was a time when almost every mainstream Rock music act began to have several remixes done by various producers from the club scene.
I am referring to the likes of Paul McCartney, U2, INXS Deacon Blue, Prefab Sprout. Not the kind of names you would usually relate to on the dance floor of a sweaty underground nightclub at 2.am.
However in the early to mid 1990's the artists named above would have some of the most anthemic and credible remixes ever to rock the House scene. This was a time when music was very segregated in terms of genres and how it was marketed to its audience. Rock music had nothing to do with the emerging Rave and club scene in the UK in the early 90's, or so it seemed to most. Rock was the music of your parents and older siblings. But things began to change in the A&R depts across the music industry, label managers recognised that with the change in music technology, different genres could meet in the middle and have an appeal to a seperate audience. Guitar bands were now beginning to have remixes produced by credible DJ's, and it was during this era that some of the most creative remixes ever were produced. On the one hand you had Andrew Weatherall producing Primal Scream and the on the other you had Paul Oakenfold producing the Happy Mondays. This led to a new style of remix being created which was the hybrid of stadium rock and underground dance music being mixed together. Below are 6 tracks from house hold name bands & artists where their remix was a huge success off the stage and in the nightclubs. Enjoy.
U2 Even Better Than The Real Thing Perfecto Remix 1992
There was already the element of the Manchester scene and the Happy Mondays working with Paul Oakenfold as the two scenes intertwined up north. It was around this time that Paul Oakenfold was the warm up act on U2's world tour as resident DJ. Having been given this platform, it was during this era that he went on to co-remix the groups classic hit from their "Achtung Baby" album with the track "Even better than the real thing, alongside his studio partner Steve Osborne in 1992.
The track starts off with the Edge and his sweeping electric guitar cowboy licks and the standard Hi-Hat pattern that accompanies the guitars flowing in and out, giving us an instant solid hybrid of House and Rock combining into a perfect blend of traditional Rock and uplifting House. The female backing vocals enter and the track takes on a full assault with the Perfecto teams trademark organ licks, which take us through to the main body of the track and although we have the standard verse chorus approach, there is a section in the middle that harps back to the intro with the Country & Western Guitars side by side with a progressive trance back drop which takes us through to the end. The remix was a massive success at the time and did even better than the original version in the UK charts peaking at number 7. No pun intended. This remix though set the blue touch paper for the band to commission remixes with other dance producers throughout the 90's and beyond with the employment of reaching out to another audience away from the Rock arena and album sales, through the sale of 12" remixes designed for the dance floor.
Prefab Sprout If You Don't Love Me Future Sound Of London Remix 1992
Perhaps the strangest pairing up of different groups one could possibly imagine was the Rock/Pop group Prefab Sprout who had been one of the 1980's Indie/Pop Rock crossover bands that had a few hits and misses here and there, and not to mention some great albums under their belt, but when they released a greatest hits album in 1992, they had a new single added to that compilation entitled "If You Don't Love me"
A very fine upbeat song with all the correct formula required as a perfect pop song, but it was the remix that Sony Epic commissioned with no other than the "Future Sound of London" A dance act that had not long released their seminal classic "Papua New Guinea" and this remix was in that very same style.
It completely stripped the remix of any main vocals and instead used the female backing vocal from the original and layered it over the most crunching trippy break-beats and added to this an arpeggio like sound that also belonged in the original version.
But other than that FSOL firmly put their stamp on this track and took away the rest of the original and also took it away completely from the pop charts. And this is precisely the point. To be able to employ a remixer and remove as many elements as possible and add a new twist to the club version. This is something we hardly if ever see anymore.
INXS Disappear David Morales Remix 1990
David Morales had already established himself in the late 80's as a new force to be reckoned with when it came to club remix duties. His 12" remix work on the Pet Shop Boys classic pop hit "So hard" was certainly a big noise on the club scene, and he would also turn other Pop singles into dance floor hits with the likes of the Madonna and Maria Carey to name but a few in the coming years.
But with INXS he would employ a warm vibe to turn one of the worlds most in demand Rock bands at that time into a smooth dance floor hit. A lush pad builds up to suit Michael Hutchence' vocals that powerfully roars over Morales' slightly hypnotic groove which fills out with a spacious brass riff gliding in and out making it a perfect example of Morales' signature mark for years to come when remixing Rock & Pop acts.
Deacon Blue Your Town Perfecto Remix 1992
Paul Oakenfold & Steve Osborne had a pretty busy year working with bands and delivering remixes for their 12" releases. Deacon Blue were one of those groups that had the Perfecto touch added to the mix. The Scottish Rock/Pop group who broke out in the late 80's with upbeat Pop hits suddenly took a turn to a more darker side and the Perfecto remix was ideal for this change in tune from Ricky Ross and his band.
With its eerie intro and chant like vocals by Deacon Blues female vocalist Lorraine Mcintosh, combined with gated like synths which were an instantly recognizable sound for Oakenfold & Osborne during that period. The track removes all verses and the chorus is not present making this an almost instrumental track, but one that has all the trademarks of the Perfecto team and one that is still sounding fresh today.
Paul McCartney Deliverance The Steve Anderson Remix 1992
The thought of Paul McCartney hitting the dance floors of the club scene in 1992 sounds a little far fetched but this was the case for real when his label Parlophone decided to call upon the skills of Steve Anderson, one half of the 90's' House music team Brothers in Rhythm.
One of the most underrated club tracks from that period. The track enters with haunting Piano chords and creepily builds up into an explosive riff that grabs you by the throat, and uses a large chant like vocal with the occasional lyrics of the chorus sweeping in the mix by Macca himself. The whole record is just relentless in its design to throw your hands in the air and it does just that.
U2 Lemon The David Morales Bad Yard Club Remix 1993
U2 returned in 1993 with their track Lemon, which again had the awesome Perfecto Remix on one side but on the flip was the David Morales Bad yard Club mix. I recall hearing this when it first landed on our shores in the record shop I worked at in 1993 and it sold literally hundreds of copies within days.
A much more darker and dub like structure with scary sirens and moody synths, that has various arrangements such as piano section and brass riffs which make it a pretty fully formed composition and not just a remix.
A track that sounded just right in a moody club late at night. The vinyl of this came out on American import on a yellow 12" and it sold in its droves at the time. But its no surprise really as its a great track that combines the Guitar and the Sequencer perfectly well.
A very experimental era in cross platforming music.
These tracks just demonstrate how producers were capable of remixing music that had nothing to do with club music but somehow they managed to hit the right notes in order to deliver the goods to the 1000's of ravers that were marching into various events that the night life offered during the 1990's from fields in the countryside to sweaty underground venues all the way up to the commercial clubs in towns and cities across the UK, who would then in turn pop into their local record shop the following week and purchase the tracks they heard on the weekend. It worked perfectly for many years.
Thank you for reading.