The “Remix Album”.
Or as I like to call it: the “Deceased Artist Cash-in Album”, or the “Vastly Inferior, Needless Re-do Album”.
There have been some godawful examples of what I’ve described for legendary artists like Bob Marley, Elton John, Johnny Cash, and now coming in October we’ll get one for Donna Summer. Yes, I haven’t heard the full album yet, but I’ll let the samples that follow foreshadow the story on this one…
Now, I’m all for it if these modern remixes cause masses of people to go back and discover the original versions, but my feeling is that these sets do not further the artist’s legacy, but rather waters it down. In my opinion, adding new layers of modern instrumentation to existing masterpieces doesn’t take much creative thought or effort, and doesn’t necessarily improve anything or add anything essential to the canon.
It takes a lot more effort and creativity to create a new version of a song from the existing multi-tracks using only what’s already there on the tape. Remixers like the legendary Tom Moulton and John Morales, and new-jacks like Jimmy Michaels and Mike Maurro…they find hidden gems in those session master tapes – an unused vocal line here, an alternate keyboard solo there – and make new masterpieces that are true to the artist’s original vision. No overdubs needed.
Want to hear what I think are remixes done right? Here’s a Spotify playlist I put together containing samples from some good remix albums. Below that are links to some remix albums not available on Spotify, but nonetheless essential! Then some YouTube embeds of more essential remixes that you’ll need to, um, track down on your own… 😉