i know that we can make it

January 18, 2009



Some of you may know that my umbrella is my most prized possession ever in the world EVER. Well, the inevitable has finally happened…it’s gone missing. I only wish our last moments could have been sweeter, think frolicking around a sunny field holding hand(les) rather than taking it out in apocolypse style weather for a good mangling. I lose things very often, and nothing important has ever been returned to me. However, there’s a first time for everything, and I now appeal to anyone that knows of it’s whereabouts to contact me.

Last seen behind the DJ decks in the cafe room of The Button Factory at about midnight last night.
Blue with flowers.
Loooong, none of this microminisupersmallCRAP.
Wooden handle, not curved.

If you’re reading this umbrella, please let me know that you’re safe.



This Remix is for the Clubs

September 24, 2008

There’s a difference between a remix, and a remix album. While a remix is essentially, a stand-alone track, a remix album bears the weight of the title ‘album’. It is more than just a collection of tracks beefed up with club beats; it’s a group of songs under the same banner. It is, for all intents and purposes, a new LP. Or is it? Jennifer Lopez made chart history in 2004 when the remix of her J.Lo album (J to tha’ L.O.) became the first remix album to debut at number one in the Billboard 200 albums. The album featured many of Murder Inc.’s heavyweights, like Ja Rule, Fat Joe and P.Diddy. One of the reasons that the album did so well is that unlike records previous, many of the tracks became totally new songs, not just extended club remixes. In 1987, Madonna released You Can Dance, a ‘concept’ remix album. In keeping with the vogue of the time, it was more of a re-edit of some of her tracks for the clubs than anything else. Tracks 1-4 and 5-7 on the album were edited together in order to resemble a DJ’s set, and the album contained one original new track. While the album didn’t fare exceptionally well commercially, it inspired other artists to release remix albums themselves. Ten years later, Michael Jackson’s 1997 record Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix became the best selling remix album of all time. Remix albums remain popular to this day. Super Extra Bonus Party recently announced their plans to remix their debut self-titled album, and Simian Mobile Disco’s Sample and Hold (a remix of Attack Decay Sustain Release) has received rave reviews. However, what are the criteria for a good remix album?

Should it pick and choose the best bits of a record, creating a new, entirely stand-alone album? Jay-Z released an a cappella version of his 2003 The Black Album, in order to make remixes and mashups easier. While only one ‘official’ remix album was made- Collision Course which mashed together Linkin Park tracks with Jay-Z’s vocals- the a cappella tracks gave a free reign to producers and aspiring remixers. The first of these unofficial remixes was producer/rapper Kev Brown’s The Brown Album (2004) which refocused Jay-Z’s club-driven vocals into a smoother, mellower direction. Hot on the heels of The Brown Album came uber-producer Dangermouse’s The Grey Album (2004). The Grey Album mixed the vocals of The Black Album with various unauthorized samples from the Beatles’ The White Album. The Grey Album melded together the best of rock and roll, with the best of rap and the best of modern production. Without heavy beats to cover it, Jay-Z’s lyrical dexterity shone through. Out of context, the Beatles’s samples sounded fresh and bang-up-to-date. Dangermouse’s disregard for musical boundaries resulted in the best album of 2004. Not only that, but it opened the door for further (unofficial) remix opportunites for Jay-Z, and others- including Weezer, Prince, and Pavement.

Should it become an alternate version of the album, by an alternate version of the group? Silent Alarm Remixed is still a Bloc Party album, but it’s an album by a different Bloc Party. Silent Alarm Remixed lives in a binary with Silent Alarm. They are polar opposites. The track for track remixes break down, then awkwardly rebuild, what made the original album so satisfying the first time around. In place of consummate professionals, lining up hooks and slick finishes, we find unsure vocals, and minuscule details illuminated. Four Tet’s remix of ‘So Here We Are’ de-layers the track, showcasing the clever structure hidden beneath Paul Epworth’s stereo-sound production. M83’s remix of ‘The Pioneers’ accentuates the glorious crescendo at the end of the track, and in doing so, its latent romanticism.

Should it, like a decent cover version, retain something of the re-mixer, while still paying tribute to the original? Grizzly Bear re-released their 2004 debut album- Horn of Plenty- a year later with an extra cd of remixes by friends, such as Ariel Pink, Simon Bookish and Final Fantasy. Grizzly Bear are known for their pedal notes, brooding lyrics and repetitive, spider-thin melody lines. The remixes not only fleshed out (and in some cases, funked up) the tracks, they sometimes brought them to an entirely different place. Drew Daniel (Soft Pink Truth) said, ‘I prefer to do remixes when I think there’s some kind of interesting tension between my way of working and the song being remixed, and I only remix music I like: so this was hand in glove.’ In fact, while every remix on the album re-arranges the original tracks significantly, the essence of the original remains- only under a different light than before. In keeping with this, Soft Pink Truth’s remix of “A Good Place” throws in bass-orientated rhythms, underwater vocals and horn samples- all the while drawing attention to the song’s “blow by blow” lyric. Simon Bookish’s version of ‘Eavesdropping’ takes the original track and morphs it into one of his own, complete with an added verse. Safety Scissors uncovers Christopher Bear’s ear for a fine pop melody in their remix of ‘La Duchesse Anne’.
(This is a link to the original, btw, I couldn’t find a remix version on Youtube)

In the case of Horn of Plenty, Grizzly Bear win out in the great remix debate. Unlike The Grey Album, all the material is used. Unlike Silent Alarm- Remixed, it’s still very recognisably an album by the same band. Horn of Plenty really is a cornucopia. The original Horn of Plenty and the remixed Horn of Plenty can sit alongside each other, both containing the same songs under a different campfire-light focus, neither one superior nor inferior, just different.

Something For The Weekend

September 7, 2008

I’m an awful person. I never made it to the Fringe Launch last night. At 9.30pm I texted Katie with something along the lines of:

‘Super sorry but I can’t make it out. Was at a party til 11am this morning, then went straight to work. May puke if I don’t go to bed a.s.a.p. Apologies again. Kisses.’

I think Katie went though, and I hope she had a charming time. To make up for my dreadfulness though, I’ve made a QUIZ! Scroll down for the answers, but NO GOOGLING ALLOWED.

How well do you know your Smash Hits!

1) Let’s start gently, Smash Hits! was best read in conjunction with which tv show?
a) CD:UK
b) Live and Kicking!
c) T.O.T.P
d) The Disney Club
e) Pop4

2) What is Stephen Gateley’s favourite movie, EVER?
a) Titanic
b) Lady and the Tramp
c) The Quiet Man
d) Rocky
e) E.T

3) Who was the one that did the rap in ‘Freak U’ by Another Level?
a) Wayne
b) Dane
c) Anthony
d) Bobak
e) John

4) When Billie Piper is at home, what does she get her mother to cook for her?
a) Fish and Chips
b) Beans on Toast
c) Chicken Curry
d) Sunday Roast Dinner
e) Bangers and Mash

5) Which epithet did Smash Hits! give Paul Mc Cartney?
a) Paul ‘I’m a Beatle’ Mc Cartney
b) Paul ‘Wacky Thumbs Aloft’ Mc Cartney
c) Paul ‘I Married Linda’ Mc Cartney
d) Paul ‘Get a Haircut’ Mc Cartney
e) Paul ‘Mull of Kin-WHAT?’ Mc Cartney

6) When I was 10 I sent away for a Smash Hits! record bag, but who was modelling it in the magazine?
a) Faye Tozer
b) Marky Mark
c) Chris Evans
d) Louise Nurding
e) Vanessa Amorosi

7) Esther from Eternal once said that the band’s worst fashion mistake was…
a) Wearing black and white corsets on CD:UK
b) All-Orange outfits on T.O.T.P.
c) Allowing Louise Nurding into the band
d) When they had perms at the start of the 90s
e) Wearing tracksuit bottoms and school shoes

8) 3LW stands for
a) Three Little Women
b) Three Like Water
c) Three Lights Went
d) Three Left Warrington
e) Three Love We

9) Where did the band ‘Northern Line’ get their name from?
a) They were all from the North of England
b) They wanted to be called ‘Northern Lions’ but that name had already been taken
c) They saw it on the Underground
d) They picked it out of a hat
e) None of the above

10) Before Ben joined A1 he was….
a) Unemployed
b) Still at school
c) A student
d) A choirboy
e) A dancer

11) Which celebrity couple were Smash Hits OBSESSED with in the middle of the 90’s?
a) Emma Bunton and Jade Jones
b) Nicole Appleton and Robbie Williams
c) Geri Halliwell and….well….anyone
d) Jennifer Lopez and Puff Daddy
e) Tess Daly and Vernon Kaye

12) O-Town had a fantasy girl, but which order did her components come in?

a) a mix of Destiny’s child, Madonna’s wild style, Janet Jackson’s smile, body like Jennifer
b) body like Jennifer, Janet Jackson’s smile, a mix of Destiny’s Child, Madonna’s wild style
c) Madonna’s wild style, a mix of Destiny’s Child, body like Jennifer, Janet Jackson’s smile
d) Janet Jackson’s smile, body like Jennifer, Madonna’s wild style, mix of Destiny’s Child












Answers: 1- c 2-c 3-d 4-e 5-b 6-a 7-b 8-a 9-c 10-d 11-a 12- a

How did you fare?