It has become fashionable for modern remixers to take
older songs and revamp them for modern tastes. A few fluke hits have
been scored along the way with this idea, several years ago a dance redo of
the Four Seasons' "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)" actually topped the
charts. More recently remixed versions of Elvis' "A Little Less
Conversation" and Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze" both captured some
Therefore it's probably no surprise that labels are
raiding their vaults to see if lightning can't strike again. One
slight miscalculation with Future Retro is that these songs – mostly
culled from the early-mid 80s New Wave vaults – were all taken from a
period in time when remixing was already prevalent. (Unlike the above
listed songs, which all pretty much predated the art form.) Therefore
it is no huge thing to have these particular tunes revamped for the dance
floor – many of them had been there already. In fact, the Hamel Album
Mix which jumps up the tempo here on Alphaville's ballad "Forever Young"
would be a lot more impressive if it weren't so reminiscent of the original
dance remix that was widely played when the song was originally popular in
One of the sharpest versions is also from one of the
more mix-happy of these groups. The Crystal Method turn their
attention to New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" with trippy swooshing
electronica results. However, as Frente's early 90s folk-rock cover of
the tune proved, that song is so malleable it could work any way it was
prodded. Richard X strips down Yaz's "Situation" to bare-bones funk
adding an unnecessary intro but then letting the tune take over.
The Way Out West remix of "Lips Like Sugar" by Echo and the Bunnymen add an
even more lush background to a hypnotically beautiful tune. Sparks
completely revibes Morrissey's acidic "Suedehead," making it an odd but
fascinating mix of bombast and restraint.
Not all of these pan out though. The remix of
Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five's "White Lines (Don't Do It)"
(it's not Grandmaster & Melle Mel, no matter what the track-listing says) is
one of those obnoxious early dance vibes where an entire song is stripped
down to an almost entirely instrumental sample of one short part of the song
which is repeated over and over again ad nauseum. This was done pretty
regularly in the early 80s, try and track down the 12" singles of the Human
League's "Don't You Want Me" or Cherelle's "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On"
for older examples of this style. This huge revamping strips the song
of its personality and its content, making it instead an endless (and rather
However, most of the remixes work better than that
one. It would be hard to say that any of these re-jiggerings actually
improve on the originals. However, if you already have the old
recordings (and chances are that if you're buying this compilation you do),
Future Retro makes for an interesting reinterpretation and a fun party
tape. Even Craig DeGraff, who produced this compilation, says in the
liner notes, "One word of warning: These mixes are in no way meant to
replace the originals. When you're done listening to this, dust off
that old vinyl and remember why you fell in love with these songs in the
first place." Take him at his word. Enjoy Future Retro,
then go back to Retro Retro.