Never Get To Zion Without Jah Love

Bringing together several recent themes today I’m offering you some prime Underworld remixes from the mid 90s, a time when we could actually feel fairly optimistic about the world.

Underworld have been all over my stereo recently with the Drift Series 1 Sampler (posted at the weekend). In addition the 90s incarnation of Underworld (Hyde, Smith and Emerson) were at The Vinyl Villain fairy recently with their epic ten minute remix of Human Behaviour- a beat heavy, tribal techno delight, Bjork skipping into the night, called by the drums.

Dreadzone have made a career out of righteous dance- floor based sounds, dub, reggae, techno and progressive house mixed into a heady stew with some politics in there to shake it all up. In Zion Youth singer Earl 16 give the wrongdoers a simple message- heads up Tories…

‘You’ll never get to Zion without Jah love
Never reach that land you’re dreaming of
You must be good you must be careful
Live upright like you know you should…

…No evildoers will be there
No backstabbers will be there’

This remix is a ten minute long excursion- a looped keyboard part, Earl’s voice, some echoey, whooshing noises bouncing around and those trademark Underworld rhythms building up a head of steam. There’s a break down at eight minutes in and then it’s all back on the dub techno train to the fade.

Zion Youth (Underworld Mix)

I have pondered before about an Underworld remix album, a compilation of the cream of their 90s remixes, and am really surprised no one ever put one out, especially in the heyday of CDs when a double disc remix edition would have surely been a winner.

This one from 1993 would have made the cut, a thirteen minute rejigging of William Orbit’s Water From A Vine Leaf, a stomping chugger of the highest order. In among all the sonics there’s a magnificent piano riff that is worth the price of entry alone, a parping synth part, a nagging upper register synth riff that goes straight to the back of the brain, a snatch of Beth Orton’s vocal and a squiggly acid bassline that would cut straight through the dry ice- layers of sounds aimed at feet and the head.

Water From A Vine Leaf (Underwater Mix Part 1) 

Here’s the 1993 remix of Bjork, the 110 BPM version from the A-side of the 12″. On the flip was a faster one, the 125 BPM Dub, but to my mind this is the pick of the pair. The build up alone is longer (and better) than many songs. This sort of thing could pack a dance-floor tight in the early/mid 90s.

Human Behaviour (The Underworld Mix 110BPM)

This could run and run and I have posted some of these before- there are some heavy duty One Dove remixes, a pair of very techno Chemical Brothers bangers, a tasty remix of The Drum Club’s Sound System, a fifteen minute St Etienne remix, Orbital’s Lush and some outliers like Front 242 and Shakespeare’s Sister (neither of which it seems I own either digitally of physically).

Zobi La Mouche

This song came my way recently on social media, one I’d long forgotten about, and was surprised I’d never posted before- in fact I’ve not posted anything by the band before. Les Negresses Vertes were a Parisian group who formed in 1987, a bunch of friends fired up by punk and a musical stew of influences that used to be called World Music. Accordion and acoustic guitars, brass, percussion, various members singing vocals, an upbeat busking style, bags of energy and very much their own thing. In 1988 they released an album called Mlah which was well received and which I had a copy of on cassette. Later on, in 1993, a collection of remixes was released, which is where they crossed back into my life and record collection, an album including remixes by Massive Attack, Gang Starr and Norman Cook and this one by William Orbit. If truth be told, the William Orbit one doesn’t quite do what I thought it might at the time, no liquid, skyscraping, electronic journey into the cosmos, but it has definite off kilter charm, some very persuasive rhythms, buckets of joie de vivre and is, dare I say it, quite Balearic.

Zobi La Mouche (William Orbit Remix)

Hyperreal

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, especially since The Vinyl Villain did a Shamen piece a couple of weeks ago. On 1990’s En-Tact The Shamen fully embraced club culture, their fusion of indie- rock and electronics complete. Paul Oakenfold, Steve Osborne and Graham Massey worked on some of the songs. Make It Mine and Move Any Mountain were genuine pop- rave monsters. They pushed the recently joined rapper Mr C to the fore. Hyperreal was released as a single in 1991 with this William Orbit remix on the 12″.

Hyperreal (William Orbit 12″ Remix)

Let Your Love Shine On

While visiting Ikea last week I took this shot from the car park, looking west towards Manchester city centre through a kind of letterbox. It reminded me of the letterbox format that videos and dvds used to have, supposedly the connoisseur’s choice for watching films.

And while looking for something else (A Man Called Adam’s Easter Song, a boat I have missed, for this year at least) I found this- William Orbit’s The Story of Light. From his 1993 Strange Cargo III album and the second volume of the Cafe Del Mar compilations, this is a rich, sumptuous piece of 1990s positivity. It might make your day a little better.

The Story Of Light

She’s Got Herself A Universe

Madonna’s Ray Of Light single and album are 20 years old. The album is a modern pop showpiece, borrowing from all over the place, mainly but not only dance music and dance music production, to make something new and up-to-date. The single was a blast, a riot of acid-tinged electronics merged with a soaring chorus and a feeling of freedom, flying, re-birth. Madonna had been through several life changing experiences in the previous couple of years, not least the birth of her daughter, and a desire to capture this newness, ‘wonderment’ she called it, was uppermost in her mind. The person chosen to bring it to life was William Orbit and he brings the sound, the electronic and dance influences and the production techniques. Ray Of Light, the single, still sounds fresh today. Orbit deliberately pushed her vocals as far as he could, making her sing just beyond the top of her range, a semitone above where she’d usually peak, to get that reaching and slightly straining effect. I was deep into stuff in 1998 that was often quite a long way from Madonna but I loved this single- and still do.

The 12″ and cd single came with a range of remixes. William Orbit’s own 8 minute Liquid version of Ray Of Light was well worth the cost of a cd single (£3.99 probably), a stretched out, less hyper take on the pop version, with looped electric guitar parts for the intro and then burbling synths and bass, the vocal covered in reverb.

Ray Of Light (William Orbit Liquid Mix)

I may come back to the Ray Of Light album at a later date- I haven’t listened to it for a long time but it’s got a lot of songs worth re-investigating. While putting this post together I cam across this semi-ambient, floaty remix of Drowned World with a great backwards guitar part, again by Orbit himself- Drowned World- A Reverie Remix. Rather beautiful.

Punk bonus- Mark Vidler, as Go Home Productions, was a master of the 00s mash-up/bootleg scene. He spliced Ray Of Light with Pretty Vacant, added the filth and fury of the Pistols on Bill Grundy and some gig chatter of Lydon complaining about being spat upon.

Ray Of Gob

Vine Leaf

This post follows on (coincidentally) from Drew’s on Friday where he posted a different mix of the same song. William Orbit’s Water From A Vine Leaf is a long progressive house tune from 1993 with a Beth Orton vocal. Over twenty years on it sounds good to these ears, still has a freshness about it. This remix is even better than the original mix though I think. In 1993 Underworld were on top of their game, Emerson, Hyde and Smith capable of turning out ten minute remixes that reshaped the source matter and drove it onwards. This one adds a certain moodiness to Orbit’s original version, perfect for the dancefloor and the headphones. Underworld really should compile their best remixes- they had so many from this time.

Water From A Vine Leaf (Underwater Mix Part 1)

Claudio Caniggia

Bass-O-Matic were William Orbit’s 90s house outfit who hit the top ten with Fascinating Rhythm, a single I have a lot of time for- early 90s positivity, pianos, a rap from MC Inna Onestep and the lovely vocals of Sharon Musgrave.

For a sultry and less poppy take on Fascinating Rhythm Renegade Soundwave offered up this version, also a tribute to  Claudio Caniggia, Argentina’s long haired forward at Italia 90, a man fouled three times as he danced and dribbled his way through Cameroon’s defence before being scythed down. This being Renegade Soundwave the focus is very much on the bass.

Fascinating Rhythm (Claudio Caniggia Mix)