Heaven 17 Retox/Detox (Cleopatra Records)
Molella and Phil Jay present Heaven 17 meets Fast Eddie "With This Ring (Let Me Go)"
Review by David Richards
You'd think among all of these people… Anyone who reads Lexicon on a regular basis knows that I practically worship the ground that Heaven 17 walks on. And, truth be told, of the three mixes on this CD5, the "Heaven 17" mix is the best. It is here that the song comes closest to sounding like a minor league Technotronic, and since I think that "Move This" was classic frothy pop, that's not half bad. I can only assume that this was the goal of the band when they handed over the classic "Let Me Go" to Molella and Phil Jay.
Unfortunately Molella and Phil fail Ware and Co. miserably. Their two mixes sound forced and patched together, a common problem when one tries to "update" dance music from the '80s. But if that were all I would chalk this up to a bad remix, it is the god awful Euro-rap that sinks this ship. Fast Eddie (whoever he or they, as it seems to be, are) don't seem to have really listened to the original "Let Me Go" before they plastered their heavy-handed clunky rap over top the remixed track. "Let Me Go" was about getting out from under; Fast Eddie makes it into a song about monogamy (marriage even). Ironic? Perhaps, but that's not the word ending in -onic I was thinking of.
So, as you can imagine, I was not looking forward to Retox/Detox after that less than spectacular intro. But, after several listens I will say that there is plenty on Retox/Detox to like. Having said that I feel that perhaps the group's energy might have been better directed towards new material. I hope that a new promised album is not far behind.
(For complete track listing see Lexicon #8)
Geek's quite version of "Let's All Make a Bomb" strips the song down to bare essentials, leaving out the beat all together, to great effect. Kevin Francis's mix of Geisha Boys and Temple Girls uses a very annoying "hold" effect on Gregory's vocals, but other wise spices up the song to good effect, throwing in a little drum and bass style cut up to make it spicy. Ashley Beedle' version of "Let Me Go" is vastly superior to the new single version (on disc two of this album as well) from Molella that it almost hurts. Mostly instrumental, Beedle delivers a quiet storm version of the classic track. Rob Playford's mix, which kicks off the whole album, falls into a trap that "techno" remixes often fall into, not enough song, too many "effects." For my money the '93 version of the song, released in the US as an afterthought on 12" by Virgin, is still the best mix of the song.
Adrian Sherwood's dub of "Let's All Make a Bomb" is serviceable dub. It's surprising how well the song lends itself to that remix style. M@krohart's "Play To Win" remix echo's "Here Comes the Rain." (why are there no remixes of "Who'll Stop the Rain?") He cleverly updates "Play," but ultimately runs out of ideas.
Perhaps the most striking track is Ben Mitchell's reworking of "Penthouse and Pavement." As anyone who has heard the original "disco" version of this track knows the potential for a '70s makeover, which Mr. Mitchell gladly obliges. He super funks up the song, giving the song a warmth that the '93 mixes lacked. The band should have Mr. Mitchell do remixes for all future singles, if you ask me. Other stand out tracks on the second disc include Michael Lange's quick-step/double-dutch remix of "Fascist Groove Thang", here titled "Brothers and Sisters." One of those rare examples of a remixer that keeps only the chorus of a song and makes it work. From Cisserio we get a Technotronic ready mix of "At the Height of the Fighting" that simply rocks. Put that song on and I dare you not to start shufflin' your feet! Tinman adds a funky bassline to move his take on "Fascist Groove Than" right out into the dance floor. As if that weren't enough, he cleverly loops the "everybody move" line to underscore the point.
But the best use of a bassline in the whole project has to go to Freddie Fresh, whose radio mix of "Geisha Boys and Temple Girls" has precious little to do with the original, but that doesn't stop it from being a stupendously funky number. In general the second disc fares better than the first. The first disc, basically more experimental and less beat oriented, often obscures the song in favor of random sounding electronica, in the worst sense of the word. The second disc, feet firmly planted on the dance floor, delivers a far better package. Perhaps a little judicious editing would have rendered one amazing disc of remixes and several singles worth of b-sides. Check your expectations at the door, by the time this party gets going, Heaven 17 are ready to rock your world!