Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Verve Remixed

For a jazz label, Verve has been among the most clever at recycling and selling their considerable back catalog. When I was a kid with a new stereo Verve's Compact Jazz series ably served as my portal into the musical genre. Each compact disc ("Made in West Germany"!) was a generous platter of musical victuals, invariably clocking in at over an hour. They could be found in most of the larger record stores, usually selling for $10 a CD -- or half of that, if the CD was used. I amassed a collection of these discs, some of which still receive regular rotation.

Sometime between the Jackie Brown and Ocean's 11 soundtracks, however, I shook the habit of buying mixed CDs. Friends were giving me their own mixed CDs, most of them better than anything put out by studios. And with the advent of the mp3 file, variety jazz CDs dropped into the gauche status of chai latte accessory.

This weekend, while driving around and listening to the radio, I caught the Gotan Project remix of "Whatever Lola Wants" as sung by Sarah Vaughan. What a terrific tweak! It's anchored by the standard dance club thump and bass-line ("dub"? Someone hip please throw me a bone!), garnished with tango-accordion flourishes and flamenco-style guitar strumming. Sarah's crooning, already seductive, regains the youthful sinew that knocked her original audience on its ass.

I was smitten, but since I did not have access to my computer I had to resort to a CD store. The person I talked to wasn't sure she knew what I was after, but thought the Verve Remixed series might be a good bet. I scanned the backs of the jewel-boxes: "Whatever Lola Wants" was on Remixed 2.

And that is how I got back into the habit of buying Verve compilations. Some of the remix selections of 2 struck me as being just a tad "busy" for dance club treatment, and one or two tracks left me wondering if some of the DJs aren't perhaps a little too in awe of the source material to exercise the sort of mischief a project like this requires. But overall the tracks fall easily on the ears, and none of them strain credibility. The store I visited sold the Remixed/Unmixed double-disc for the usual ten-spot, making this an incredible deal. Furthermore, women seem to be especially fond of it. Music nerds take note: we now have another excuse to go to the record store.

The Verve Remixed site is here. The Gotan Project site is here.


DarkoV said...

Completely agree with you, sir. I have the first 3 of 4 Remixed and their original versions and they are the cheapest of thrills. Can't put them on too often, but once-twice a month...well it's house-shaking music.
I have to look into that 4th Remixed..although the reviews were, uhmmm, mixed, with the majority on the down low, very low.

Whisky Prajer said...

Those negative reviews on #4 have piqued my curiosity, too. I can't help wondering how Verve messed up a winning formula. If it's as cheap as this one, I believe I'll be taking it home for a spin.