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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Various Artists
Motown: Remixed
Motown Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

July 1, 2005
A plethora of remix compilations have come out over the past few years, with most mining the depths of jazz labels like Verve or Blue Note. They're always hit-or-miss affairs, with a few stand-out tracks at best and plenty of mediocre filler. That's just the nature of the beast; many remixes of old classics, whether from a superstar DJ or one who's a bit more under the radar, often falls into a soporific, future car commercial groove - the soundtrack for yuppies and Starbucks everywhere. This latest compilation has the same trappings, though there are some highlights throughout which ultimately make this a better compilation than most.

The album kicks off with one of the best tracks: Z-Trip remixing the Jackson 5's classic "I Want You Back." Z-Trip adds a buoyant hip-hop beat backing to the track and even includes what appear to be some studio outtakes - instructions conveyed to the group from the monitor room - which are unexpected but effective.

The Randy Watson Experience, AKA The Roots' ?uestlove and fellow Soulquarian James Poyser, are up next, giving Gladys Knight and the Pips' version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" and old school funk and breakbeat treatment. This version almost sounds like it could have been the way the tune was originally recorded, as the remixed elements blend seamlessly with the original in sound and texture. The estimable and long-running DJ Smash infuses Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" with a sturdy marching beat, as much jazz-hop as it is John Sousa.

Another Jackson 5 classic, "ABC," is given an extremely modern slant. Salaam Remi, a producer who's previously worked with Ludicrous and Nas among others, laces the track with a half-time boom-bap that sounds like something straight out of Lil' Jon's songbook, and it works quite well. The Temptations' "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" is completely buttered up and smoothed out by DJ Jazzy Jeff (yes, that DJ Jazzy Jeff) and Pete Kuzma with a sugary house 4/4 bedrock, smoothing over the rough edges of the original. Easy Mo Bee does a subtle reworking of The Temptations' "Just My Imagination," a dreamy song in its own right, adding light hints of bass tones and drum hits to an already smoothed-out song.

Some of the misses include the saccharine, smooth jazz of Da Producers' version of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On" and the mild-mannered and pointless breakbeat of Mocean Worker's reworking of Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate." "Tears of a Clown" is crunked up and rushed by Hotsnax's funked out meth-breaks, and ultimately suffers from the heavy-handed approach.

In all, however, this compilation is rises above most of its ilk - and that's without mentioning the work of King Britt and DJ Spinna, fellas who seem to bring the niceness to whatever they put their hands on. Kudos to Motown for choosing a bevy of producers who, for the most part, are abundant in talent and creativity. Hopefully we won't be seeing any of these songs on a car commercial anytime soon… but don't be surprised if it happens.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker



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