The once stolen black heart of Rock n Roll still beats, it just needs a dance or electronic pacemaker to keep it going (see QOTSA and Jack White for proof). As such, this Rock & Pop list has a lot on it that has been remixed, remastered, redone and rearranged.
Record Store Day 2018 is a few days away, and we in the WDBX music department have to do our diligent duty as curators and taste makers to giver you a smattering of picks from the expansive (this year, almost 500).
When you wake up on 4/21 and race to your local record store, bear in mind these picks from your buds at WDBX, separated into loose sections, and as always, the disclaimer:
This LIST is in no particular order, and obviously subjective, but nonetheless the result of a Canadian DJ in his pyjamas going full kid in a candy store through the offerings. WDBX takes no responsibility for any offended tastes, overlooked gems, or cranky commenters. It’s not a “top five” it’s a “high five.”
Some musicologists say that rock died a long time ago. That we have only electronic infused cyborg versions of our former heroes. I don’t think it would be noticed by anyone if The Rolling Stones just sent holograms on tour.
The once stolen black heart of Rock n Roll still beats, it just needs a dance or electronic pacemaker to keep it going (see QOTSA and Jack White for proof). As such, this Rock & Pop list has a lot on it that has been remixed, remastered, redone and rearranged. Sometimes Rock needs a paddling from a pop defibrillator to shake it out of repetition…in the 80’s…when she came…her name was:
Madonna – You Can Dance
Originally released fifteen years before P Diddy had the Cristal fuelled audacity to release an album called We Invented the Remix, and even longer before Madonna started speaking in a British accent and claiming to have a deeper spiritual understanding of the interconnectedness between the mystical infinite and our everyday tangible universe. The year was 1987, when Madonna was an artist who had crossed over from the glorious Paradise Garage and NYC downtown underground to become a bonafide pop star and global dance music sensation. Following up on the smash success of True Blue and Who’s That Girl, entrenched in the commercial music machine, Madonna had many of the best producers of the day paid to craft dubs and remix her hits and to feed the dance floors that were hungry for more material from the material girl.
These songs feel like an authentic statement of creativity and joy from a girl who had been plucked from notorious clubs like The Limelight, and was now all lit up in the global spotlight. It is a return to party girl roots, but also a fond collaboration with Jellybean Benitez and Patrick Leonard (producer of True Blue), it sounds like they were having fun, on a roller coaster ride of success that would roll forever, chopping up the hits for their culture.
As guest remixer Shep Pettibone put it: “normally, without some music to work on, the remixer has nothing. But we already had Madonna’s catalogue of danceable songs which was enough material for lifetime.” This classic collection will fill you with reference points for much of the indie dance and synth pop that fill our air today.
No matter how you feel about Madonna now, this is music you can play with kids, friends, lovers, aunts – five million copies later, it’s getting a RSD reissue, and still making people want to dance.
David Bowie – Let’s Dance (Full Length Demo 12”)
This pick is a tough one, because RSD18 sees a swath of Bowie reissues. So let’s just say that it gets the pick because it’s what one would want to play after listening to the Madonna. Quite simply, one of the finest dance records ever made, the fruit of an insanely productive series of sessions between Bowie and Nile Rodgers (of Chic infamy).
Although widely available in dollar bins on the original LP, this reissue of the demo mix that clocks in at 7:34 is also shrouded in some secrecy, I guess we’ll find out what it sounds like in the serious moonlight as we line up early before the sun comes up.
The Cure – Mixed Up
A group that gets unfairly characterized as universally gloomy, fans of The Cure have to smile about a big huge exclusive release on 4/21. Robert Smith, the man of pallid face and climbing hairdo, has taken the alternate mixes of their infamous Mixed Up album and remastered them himself for a proper pressing onto heavy vinyl. You may see disenchanted black clad Cure fans walking away from the record store, coupling their normal essential sadness will be disappointment, as there are only 7000 of these available worldwide.
Smith has kept much of what this product entails rather quiet, but it’s likely that this will include newly remastered versions of the slow burning and breakbeat laden “Close To Me (Closest Mix)” that crossover tranceman Paul Oakenfold provided for the 1990 original.
The unquestionable highlight will be “Lullaby (Extended Mix)” which answers the eternal question: “who is Spiderman having for dinner?”
I think that’s what they want.
Van Morrison – The Alternative Moondance
For some, “Alternative Moondance” might seem like the kind of over-reaching nonsense music scribe terminology that would wind up in pieces like this, but describing something by bands like Blitzen Trapper, Ben Kweller, or Guided By Voices. However, in RSD18 parlance it literally refers to a different version of Van Morrison’s timeless epic.
This cutting is apparently done with love from the tape used in the 2013 remastering, and will include new mixes of “And It Stoned Me” and “Crazy Love.”
The beauty of Record Store Day, the best songs of all time get delicately repressed to wax just for us. And for money. But, on Sunday morning, when you drop the needle on “Crazy Love” it will seem like Van the Man cooked up this fresh version just for you.
Ben Kweller – Sha Sha
Released in the early 2000’s as the indie rock craze begat by The Strokes was in full pump, Ben Kweller quietly released what is like totally the alternative Moondance.
Layered with melodic and heartbreaking observations of love, but expressed with deep soul and a pop sensibility, it’s surprising that more people don’t know about this little American gem.
Just after 9/11 it was important for people to have really nice and comforting music like this. Ben Kweller, like a true Yankee troubadour seemed to understand that all we have is each other and the love and sex and laughs and feelings that we shared.