Thursday, June 09, 2005

VERVE - REMIXED V. 3 

Album: Remixed - Volume 3
Artist: Verve
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This album is going to be taken one of two ways:

1. People who are interested in seeing how today’s hottest producers remix classic jazz using hip hop and electronica-fused beats.
2. People who love the original and believe remixing Nina Simone, Jimmy Smith and Billie Holiday is the worst ideas since “Nuts ‘N Gum”.

This concept is not new. This is the third installment of the Verve Remixed series, and Blue Note has tried the same deal as well (MadLib’s Shades of Blue, Blue Note Revisited and the list goes on). Personally I like the concept, and was very excited to see how people like Danger Mouse, Postal Service, the Album Leaf, Groove Armada and Junior Boys interpret these classic tracks.

That being said, obviously, some tracks are fantastic, while others left me flat. Some would say that when it comes to Nina Simone, the best remix is to just get out of the way and let her do her thing, but the Album Leaf’s version of Lilac Wine is perfect. The understated electronic beat and sound effects accompany the vocal track seamlessly. Postal Service’s version of Little Girl Blue, unfortunately, does not. Usually, Jimmy T is not afraid to take chances (the Neptune’s style beat he drops on against all odds shows this), but this track feels like he kind of mailed it in.

The album however, does feature some great tracks that take the risks and turn the classics into dance floor bangers. Adam Freeland’s remix of Sarah Vaughn’s Fever is my favorite track. The kick drum and cowbell spanks a beat that would get even the most beret-wearing jazz purist snapping fingers and chinning along. The Lyrics born remix of Jimmy Smith’s classic Stay Loose takes a funky jam, and actually makes it funkier. The Carl Craig remix of The Boys Doin’ It reminds me of a beat Nelly or Pdiddle (or puff master or whatever Sean Combs is going by now) would rip off and rap over (except they’d be talking about shoes, money, Jamie Foxx and liquor). R2DJ creates a sweet hip hop influenced beat to accompany (not overpower) Astrud Gilberto’s The Gentle Rain. Canadian artists, the Junior Boys deliver a great (albeit, too short) version of Billie Holiday’s Yesterdays. Last but not least, the Brazilian Girls have created a club cut out of Just One of Those Things that will be played by club DJs and Civic owners all summer.

It wouldn’t be a fair review if I didn’t mention the songs that I think should have been left off the album. Danger Mouse! After the hype of the Grey Album, and his production for Jemini, his recent efforts have left me wondering if the hype on him is just that… hype. His effort on Baby, Did You Hear is bland and after his creativity on other works, I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t take the same risks (don’t even get me started on his efforts to the new Gorillaz – DAMON, BRING BACK DAN).

This album is worth picking up. It has some great tracks, and adds some fresh twists to classic songs that everyone loves. You will hear lots of the jams in clubs and stores this summer, so buy the album and Act Like Ya Know.


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