VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Motown Remixes Mixtape”
Source: Breath of Life (BoL Mixtape - March 9, 2009)
Fifty years after the beginning, BoL presents a mixtape of Motown Remixes. You’ll recognize most, if not all, of the songs but you won’t recognize the arrangements. Some will surprise you, a few will probably delight you, a couple will infuriate you (why would ‘they’ mess up perfection by throwing a hip hop beat on it?), nevertheless, the real deal is that none of this will bore you.
As I put this mixtape together, for my first time I realized just how strong the Motown singers were—correction, make that how strong the Motown singers “are.”
Listening even to Diana Ross, or should I say especially listening to Diana Ross, whom I generally thought of as severely over-rated as a vocalist while acknowledging that she had charisma up the ying yang, which is why she was “the boss,” anyway, these remixes highlight just how deep the vocalists were.
I knew it already but here is more evidence: Marvin Gaye is an absolute monster. We open and we close with Marvin, plus he’s all up around and in between the nineteen selections that make up this mixtape. His backing vocals are often as impressive as the lead work. Listen closely, listen how delightfully these folks line out a lyric.
BTW, conspicuous in his absence is Stevie. The remixes of Stevie all failed to achieve anything that attracted my liberal ear, not to mention were a turn off to my other ear, my critical ear. But fear not Stevie fans, I’ve got something else on the runway awaiting it’s turn to take off. Promise it will be massive.
Speaking of massive, another little surprise in this batch of remixes is The Jacksons.
Yeah, yeah, I know, for sure Michael can croon and there wasn’t nothing weak about his falsetto, nevertheless I didn’t expect a fifth of the tracks to be Jacksons. Part of it is their early work was easy to remix when you compare it to the difficulty the DJs had in handling up on Stevie.
But really, when you get to making the final cut, again and again I had to give propers where props are due: Michael can sang!
This is not a Motown revue. I wasn’t trying to get a cross-sampling of major hits or the major movers from the Motown stables and songwriters. Other than the Supremes none of the girl groups are here (and for that matter there’s no Four Tops, no Dramatics, no early Isleys either—although we do have a tres-interesting Jacksons remake of “It’s Your Thing”).
What I did was look for re-arrangements that worked, i.e. the ones I liked and thought were either a surprising revelation or highlighted a singer/song, which is how a couple of the Diana Ross cuts slipped past my aforementioned antipathy for The Supremes.
One thing I do regret is that I have virtually no info on the DJs and producers who did the remixes. These cuts are floating around the internet with only cryptic names attached, names such as “futuro mix” or “topless in action remix.” You get the idea. It’s an underground energy happening but what’s surprising to me is that most of the mixes sound like they were working with pristine copies of the masters. I wonder how the remixers got hold of the basic tracks.
As far as my contribution goes, you can call me “selector.” I tried to avoid choosing tracks from the recent, official Motown remix albums that you can get most anywhere. I was striving for hitting you up with stuff you probably have not heard and, once you had heard it, if you liked it and wanted it, those tracks would not be easy to find.
A secondary input I made was sequence and segues. I wanted the mix to flow and to feel right, which of course is subjective; on one hand—one person’s flow is another person’s frustration, but on the other hand, getting the cross-fades and overlaps to work takes a little skill and sometimes more than a minute of mucking with levels and placement to make the movement from one track to the next be smooth, smooth, smooth.
Finally, but perhaps, most significant of all: I’ve got to give humongously “big” ups to “Big-One” (a blogger from The Hague, Netherlands) who has the best Motown-oriented website on the internet. If you ever want to check on a Motown recording, you need to go to Fullundie. I doubt if I could have done this mixtape without Fullundie—Fullundie is crucial!
So, that’s it. Enjoy.
Happy Birthday Motown.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
Motown Remixes Playlist
01 Marvin Gaye – “What’s Going On” (danny krivit re-edit)
02 The Sisters Love – “Give Me your Love” (leftfoot remix)
03 The Supremes – “My World Is Empty Without You” (Iplant reggae remix)
04 The Jackson Five – “Never Can Say Goodbye” (beatnick & k-salaam remix)
05 The Temptations – “I Can’t Get Next To You” (randy cantor mix)
06 Marvin Gaye – “Lets Get It On” (paul simpson remix)
07 The Temptations – “My Girl” (crowd control remix)
08 Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (d.f.p. re-edit)
09 The Jackson Five – “Dancing Machine” (topless in action remix)
10 Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “Tears Of A Clown” (action jackson remix)
11 The Temptations – “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” (easy mo bee remix)
12 The Supremes – “You Keep Me Hanging On” (futuro mix)
13 The Jackson Five – “It’s Your Thing” (extended remix)
14 Diana Ross & The Supremes - “Reflections” (futuro mix)
15 Marvin Gaye - “What’s Going On” (Edvaldo’s Mix)
16 Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (futuro re fresh mix)
17 The Jackson Five – “I Want You Back” (remix eric biodi rivera)
18 The Supremes (70s) – “Come Together” (vs Beatles)
19 Marvin Gaye – Let’s get it on (futuro mix)
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