reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
Heavenly have already released two volumes of compilations celebrating the art of the remix on their label. They have turned to a wide range of their artists either as remixers or as providers of the original song, moving from older staples from Saint Etienne and Doves to more recent Heavenly royalty Working Men’s Club, The Orielles and Gwenno.
Volumes 3 and 4 tell a different story, coming to you directly from the mixing desk of the much missed Andrew Weatherall. Weatherall was a shining light in dance music – rock music, too – from the 1990s onwards, sprinkling his production stardust on albums from Primal Scream (notably Screamadelica) and Beth Orton, while providing production and remixes for a huge range of artists.
This selection is all exclusive to the Heavenly label, celebrating his achievements and status with the label, for their first ever remix was from Weatherall himself.
What’s the music like?
In a word, brilliant. Weatherall made so many remixes but managed the difficult juggling act of having his own distinctive style without ever making the same mix twice.
That first remix – the Andrew Weatherall Soul Of Europe Mix of Sly & Lovechild’s The World According To Sly & Lovechild – is an uplifting call to arms at the start of this collection. It may begin with the vocal gambit “These are dark days” but it is a wholly positive vocal, dressed with undulating marimbas and a chunky bassline. Next up is Mark Lanegan, the legendary vocalist who as I write this review sadly passed away only yesterday. Beehive gets an upfront remix with the couplet “lightning coming out of the speakers, wanna hear that sound some more”. After these two heavyweights, an even bigger mix lies in wait in the form of Flowered Up’s ‘Weekender’ from 1992. This is expertly paced over 17 minutes, no less, getting into its groove early on and never letting up. A similar rhythm permeates Gwenno’s Chwyldro but this is a wholly different approach, with a hazy palette and some weird harmonies complementing her softer tones.
Another legendary remix follows, Weatherall taking Saint Etienne to the dancefloor with his take on Only Love Can Break Your Heart, a dub-infused version that drops into a full vocal version half way through. A heady remix of Confidence Man’s Bubblegum follows, then a Sabres of Paradise mix of Espiritu, whose Conquistador goes through the wringer in an up-tempo flurry of percussion and rave riffs. Finally The Orielles’ Sugar Taste Like Salt plays havoc with the stereo placement and rolls out a big set of drum fills, both favourite tricks of Weatherall’s as he succeeds in displacing the listener.
Volume 4 is just as good – and once again presents a set of shapeshifting beats that manages to twist the original artists almost beyond recognition. audiobooks are first, Weatherall taking them to the electro disco with the groovy, spacey, Dance Your Life Away, before an edit of the Two Lone Swordsmen Dub of Saint Etienne’s Heart Failed In The Back Of A Taxi, a suitably grubby affair.
Next up is Doves’ Compulsion, an unlikely candidate but packed with reverb and big vocals as it settles into a brilliant chugging groove with constantly flickering electronics. TOY’s Dead and Gone gets a minimal, relatively straight remix with a good deal of white noise, then Confidence Man’s Out The Window makes the most of a vocal that could have been sent from the Hacienda. LCMDF’s Gandhi is a shape-shifter in Weatherall’s hands, then another Espiritu track – Bonita Mañana – gets taken to the cleaners over 13 glorious minutes. Finally – and regretfully – we reach the end with Unloved and a slow, loping take on Devils Angels, doom-laden and disorientating on headphones.
Does it all work?
It does, handsomely – and it matters not a jot that some of these remixes weigh in at more than a quarter of an hour. Flowered Up’s Weekender is a great example of how to make one remix sound like half of a DJ set, and it says a lot for Weatherall’s craft that it would be easy to listen to the track all over again.
Is it recommended?
Yes – for this is the sound of an artist constantly finding new ways to express familiar vocals, always with both eyes on the dancefloor. It is clear that Andrew Weatherall had nothing but fun in his studio! Weatherall fans and anyone wanting to learn the dos and don’ts of a good remix should get this, as should anyone with a passing interest in dance or indie music from the 1990s onwards. Even without any of the historical baggage, this is simply a brilliant set of grooves with a feelgood atmosphere running throughout!
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