“To Remix or not to remix - that is the question” - Genesis and solo artists’ remixes examined by Ted Sayers.
Where did the idea of a remix originate? It was only in the 1980’s that remixing a track, usually for 12” single purposes, became the norm. The 1970’s in retrospect were a far less commercial decade and in rock terms, a remix of a cumbersome song already ten minutes in duration would have been a pretty stupid idea.
Over the past ten years, the rock track has been refined to a 4 -6 minute piece. In many ways it can be said that rock music has all but died due to these refinements. Strangely enough, the facilities to remix a song usually drag out a previously 4 or 5 minute song into a rather dull, “discofied” 8 or 10 minute monstrosity.
Of course, remix doesn’t necessarily mean longer or even boring. Genesis first dabbled with the art of remixing by actually editing and remixing Watcher of The Skies back in 1972 for the singles market, the best known of which is German. It never gained a UK release although the track is available on the Rock Theatre compilation LP.
In 1978 Genesis succumbed to the lure of the US market and their recent success there and consequent high commerciality. Their capitulation was done in a subtly remixed version of the already commercial Follow You Follow Me. This remix was not released outside of the US and it provided them with a minor hit in that country. Interestingly enough the version released in the UK was lifted straight from the LP and was their biggest hit single up to that point.
Since 1978 the Genesis remixes have snowballed. Possibly the biggest use of this attempt at generating huge amounts of cash for little effort, is not surprisingly; Phil Collin. His efforts (?) culminated in a whole mini album of remixes of about half the tracks from his No Jacket Required album. All of the songs had been released as singles throughout various countries and so it seemed a good (?) idea to put them all together on an album called: Twelve Inchers. This was originally only meant for the highly commercial and lucrative Japanese market but proved so successful as to gain it a worldwide CD only release. Due to the length of these remixes, the so-called mini album weighed in at over forty minutes in length - a good deal longer than several ordinary albums. Quality and Quantity have never gone hand in hand though.
Phil’s last studio album: But Seriously again provided a multitude of remixes. This culminated in two nauseating remixes of Hang In Long Enough late last year, neither bear much relation to the original version but both were blatantly rap/hip-hop items (for want of a better word and I can think of several!) with Phil’s original vocal track placed strategically (?) on top.
Phil, is of course, the highest profile remixer and thankfully, not all are quite as bad. Peter Gabriel’s use of remixes is far more interesting though in the case of I Have The Touch it is rather puzzling as to why the 1983 remix of the track has been released so many times. It was, after all, only a B side originally. D I Y was remixed for his two 1978 singles, the second version more so with a nice addition of a saxophone. In 1980 Peter’s self-titled album of that year was also released in a German language version solely for their market. For that version, four songs were also subtly remixed as was also the case for his fourth solo album in 1982.
Biko (from the 1980 album) has also been remixed many times including the single version. Strictly speaking, he has changed its live interpretation so often as to be able to call it a remix too. Perhaps the strangest remix has to be the version he did of Lay Your Hands On Me in 1982 for use in the Italian TV programme: Pop Corn. Sadly, this has never been released commercially.
So was the mother of a couple of subtle remixes, including at least three versions of Sledgehammer, some more obvious than others. Last year’s release of Peter’s Greatest Hits package provided even more remixes including a great stripped down version of Here Comes The Flood. Some of the remixes on the album are easier to spot than others and the album also included the ubiquitous ‘83 version of I Have The Touch. A single from the album - a re-release of Solsbury Hill was also allegedly remixed but I personally can’t find any difference.
Steve’s remixes have been few and far between. There was a remixed version of Please Don’t Touch on the B side of the remixed Narnia single . Coincidentally, that version of Narnia also had a different vocalist from the album (Steve Walsh from Kansas). Steve did a session for Radio One in 1983 which, strictly speaking, could be described as a couple of remixed versions of a few tracks from his Highly Strung album.
Clocks too, was remixed for the single in 1979 and the B side of the remixed Everyday, Lost Time In Cordoba was also “fiddled” with. Steve’s latest remix was for the 12” single of A Doll That’s Made In Japan. The keener eared among you may have noticed that it is merely the album track with an instrumental version tagged on to the end.
Steve’s brief flirtation with GTR also produced one remix in the form of the “Special GTR mix” of The Hunter which was only released on the US 12” single.
The remixes from Tony’s solo material have been very subtle indeed. For A While from his first solo album was obvious enough as was And The Wheels Keep Turning and Man Of Spells from The Fugitive album. This Is Love and Charm from the same LP and Throwback from Tony’s Bankstatement album were more difficult to spot.
Mike’s adventures in remix land have been mixed (or should that be remixed - pardon the pun!). The various versions of Acting Very Strange were regrettable and most of his others have been rather pointless; Moonshine, All I Need Is A Miracle and Silent Running.
Remixes from the last Mechanics album were, thankfully, more restrained and to be honest, more edited than anything else. The most obvious being the version of Nobody Knows released as an A side with the album version also released as the B side to Nobody’s Perfect, confusing isn’t it?
Anthony Phillips’ singles have been few and far between in themselves but even they have had a couple of remixes. The Um & Aargh single in 1979 had a remixed A side. We’re All As We Lie from 1978 was also altered from the album version although this was more a case of editing down a lengthier song to single length. Ant’s single from Tarka in 1988 contained two different versions of The Anthem, the so-called “single mix” and the extended single mix on the CD version of the single.
With the Genesis remixes going back to 1972, it could be argued that they were one of the originators of the remix, but the honour may be decidedly dubious. The remix may be used for good or bad, and it depends on your personal view as to whether the band may be thanked or cursed.