One of my guilty pleasures is Taco’s After Eight album of 1983. For those of you who’ve never heard it, it’s an album of songs like “Singing In The Rain,” “Puttin’ On The Ritz” – that was the big hit – and “I Should Care” with dance beats. What makes this album work – at least for me – is the fact that most of the songs are so classic that even the cheesiest of synths can’t hurt them.
That’s also what makes this follow-up to last year’s successful – #2 on the contemporary jazz charts – Verve Remixed work when it works. As far as DJs go, they’ve got some good’uns here: Gotan Project, Petalpusher, Layo & Bushwacka and Mr. Scruff. The original musicians aren’t exactly scraping the bottom of the barrel either (Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone…).
Vaughan’s “Whatever Lola Wants,” originally recorded in an old-fashioned style, is here given a percussive dance mix with accordion – you heard me – by Gotan Project. The crown prince of Naked Music, Miguel Migs, a.k.a Petalpusher, polishes Ella Fitzgerald’s “Slap That Bass” into a combination of bubbly disco with smooth surface sheen that flows into Fitzgerald’s “Angel Eyes.” This is a song made legendary by Frank Sinatra and recorded hundreds of times since – Sting gave an especially sad, beautiful reading of it on the Leaving Las Vegas soundtrack. As you might expect, Fitzgerald did more than fine by it; what’s more impressive is that Layo and Bushwacka’s dreamy makeover does more than fine by her.
In a sort of gift to music critics, the results of a remix collection like this are almost always… mixed. A song like Nina Simone’s “Black Is The Color of My True Love’s Hair” loses much of its folksy quality in Jaffa’s remix, without gaining sufficient kick in return.
Still, this is more of a pleasure cruise than a guilt trip.
Verve Remixed: http://www.ververemixed.com/