When a remix takes over...

Our first batch of selections are all tracks where the remix became the definitive version – the one you hear in your head, the one that’s racked up the views and streams - mixes that took on a life of their own, often leading to the record company electing to put it centre stage on release.

The original track: Hercules & Love Affair ‘Blind’ 

Remixer: Frankie Knuckles

Year: 2007

What’s the story?

Where better to start than with the Godfather? However, hard as it may be to believe now, at this moment in time, Frankie’s star was not in the ascendant. Disillusioned with how trance and techno seemed to be usurping house, he all but stopped studio work. Hercules & Love Affair and their label, New York’s ultra-hip DFA, were desperate for him to remix ‘Blind’, feeling it was a perfect match for the classic Def Mix sound. Frankie knocked them back repeatedly, convinced no one played that sound anymore, but they persevered. Eventually he relented, but then fell ill. Band and label said they would wait. The result? An all-time classic remix, and Frankie back in the studio driver’s seat. That’s what you call a win-win.

The original track: De’Lacy ‘Hideaway’

Remixer: Deep Dish

Year: 1995

What’s the story?

If there was one remix team who achieved the feat of uniting all kinds of dancefloors with their trademark sound in the sub-genre filled world of 1990s house, it was Deep Dish. The Washington DC-based duo hit the big time with this, their superlative rework for De’Lacy. It found favour with lovers of both soulful, vocal house and those who preferred harder, more progressive sounds, and perfectly captures a moment in time. So ubiquitous is their remix of the track (which was used as lead for both radio and video) that we haven’t even been able to find an ‘original’ (we assume somewhere out there it exists, as the DD version is always credited as ‘remix’). They would go on to be global stars and Grammy-winning remixers, but it all started with ‘Hideaway.’

The original track: Noir & Haze ‘Around’

Remixer: Solomun

Year: 2011

What’s the story?

“Have you ever felt like you've been hurt before? By the ones that said they only loved you more?” It’s a fantastic opening couplet, and when bathing in the moody brilliance of the ‘Solomun Vox’ mix of ‘Around’, it should never be forgotten that it only came about because of a great song. Noir himself has been a respected underground figure for the whole of the 21st century, and with ‘Around’, he wore influences such as The Cure and Depeche Mode on his sleeve. However, this is very much a case of a remix that took on a life way beyond the control of artist, remixer and record label. Much as it is Noir’s moment in the crossover spotlight, arguably, for all his ongoing success, it’s also Solomun’s finest achievement. It’s hard to argue with close to 100,000,000 You Tube views for such an underground vibe.

The original track: Azzido da Bass ‘Dooms Night’ 

Remixer: Timo Maas

Year: 1999

What’s the story?

‘Dooms Night’ was, frankly, a fairly run-of-the-mill rave track in its original version. Arguably it suffered from an excess of ideas, so when fellow German Timo Maas was invited to remix it, he chose to strip it right back, and focus on one key element – which can best be described as the “wump, wump, wump, wump” sound. The outcome was guaranteed carnage whenever and wherever the mix got played. This was an extreme case of it being “all about the remix”. After spending the 90s as a jobbing DJ-producer, Timo went stratospheric in the 00s (and was another Grammy nominee); by contrast, Azzido Da Bass would never scale anywhere near the same heights again.

The original track: Fish Go Deep ft. Tracy K ‘The Cure & the Cause’ 

Remixer: Dennis Ferrer

Year: 2006

What’s the story?

As with ‘Around’, at the roots of the story of ‘The Cure and the Cause’ is a fantastic song. When Irish DJ & production duo Greg Dowling and Shane Johnson (famed for their residency at Sir Henry’s in Cork) played it to their long-time friend Charles Webster, he loved it and offered to do a remix. It next caught the ears of Dennis Ferrer, who remixed it for its release on a Canadian label. This coincided with Defected’s Simon Dunmore striking up a relationship with Dennis, and as the latter told us: “That was literally going to come and go, and Simon took it, and he ran with it, and he did his magic. The whole team did their magic, and man that’s a classic.” While the Ferrer mix may have led the way for this single, Fish Go Deep are still going strong.

The original track: La Roux ‘In for the Kill’ 

Remixer: Skream

Year: 2009

What’s the story?

We should start by recognising the fact that La Roux is a hugely successful artist. However, when it comes to clubland, it will always be about one remix – the wonderfully titled ‘Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey’ remix of ‘In For The Kill’. And that’s exactly what he did, channelling the spirit of the 1989 M25 raves as he turned this piece of brash electro pop on its head. La Roux herself cited Skream’s remix as what she would have done with the song had she “been brave enough.” Skream, too, was brave, veering away from his then trademark sound to deliver an extended beatless intro that celebrates the power of the impassioned vocal performance, before an old school drum’n’bass outro that is welcome if unexpected after we have lost ourselves in the song.

The original track: Rosie Gaines ‘Closer Than Close’

Remixer: MenTor (Hippie Torrales & Mark Mendoza)

Year: 1997

What’s the story?

One of Prince’s New Power Generation, Rosie Gaines’s solo career was relatively uneventful until the title track to her Closer Than Close soul album found a new lease of life as a house record via the MenTor club mix. MenTor was Mark Mendoza and Hippie Torrales, the latter a prime mover in New Jersey’s late 80s scene and responsible for one of its finest moments, ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone’ by Turntable Orchestra. There was much confusion in the UK & Europe in the late 80s when the New Jersey sound was dubbed ‘garage’, while to New Yorkers, ‘garage’ referred to the sound pioneered by Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage. However, when the term ‘UK Garage’ was first coined, there was certainly more than a knowing nod to soulful house DJs / producers such as Torrales, and indeed ‘Closer Than Close’ was a big hit on the nascent UKG scene.

Mixes for markets

Club culture and house music exploding worldwide in the 1990s coincided with a new era in remixing. The editing, extending and tweaking that had defined the art from its early days in ‘60s Jamaica and ‘70s New York gave way to complete re-workings, as mix magicians stripped tracks back to the bare essentials and loaded on their own dancefloor friendly beats, music and effects. The music industry soon realised there was an opportunity here to open artists up to new markets and started lavishing ever bigger fees on remix packages. These days even the most in-demand remixers can no longer pay off their mortgage after a handful of successful mixes, but the art form remains intact. Our selections avoid the many cash-in mixes that were commissioned back in the day, instead focusing on moments when the stars aligned, and the pairing of track and remixer produced magic.'

The original track: Gregory Porter ‘1960 what?’

Remixer: Opolopo

Year: 2012

What’s the story?

In 2012, Gregory Porter, though widely respected and oft-tipped for big things, was not the widely known, million-selling figure he is today. There is little doubt that this seminal remix helped him on that journey. The original 12 minutes + version appears on his 2010 debut album Water, but it was 2012 when Opolopo’s ‘Kick and Bass re-rub’ was released. And it did exactly what it said on the tin - Porter’s vocal remains intact, as does his message about recurring injustice; similarly the jazz instrumentation remains in situ – but the “kick and bass” made it a surefire dancefloor winner.

The original track: Bent ‘Magic Love’  

Remixer: Ashley Beedle

Year: 2002

What’s the story?

Black Science Orchestra, X-Press 2, Disco Evangelists, and numerous solo projects – Ashley Beedle is UK house music royalty. His current North Street project with Jo Wallace and Darren Morris is riding high, with their Lady Blackbird remix topping many a 2020 chart. What Beedle brings to a remix project is an encyclopaedic knowledge of danceable music in all its forms – which is why he was the perfect choice to remix Bent, which he did on both ‘Always’ from their debut, and here, ‘Magic Love’ from its follow up. The Nottingham duo’s unique take on electronica resided firmly in club culture, but its singles needed a dash of dancefloor sensibility sprayed on to fill a wider range of floors, and Beedle delivered. Meanwhile, Bent made a very welcome return in 2020 with the excellent Up In The Air album.

The original track: Marie Davidson ‘Work It ‘ 

Remixer: Soulwax

Year: 2019

What’s the story?

In 2016, Montreal-based electronic experimentalist Marie Davidson released the album Adieux au Dancefloor and expressed disillusionment with the club scene. However, the 2018 follow up Working Class Woman, released on Ninja Tune, still contained a sprinkling of floor-friendly numbers, most notably ‘Work It’, a homage to the ballroom / voguing scene, and echoing the stripped back otherworldliness of ballroom classics such as George Kranz’s ‘Din Daa Daa’, and ‘The Ha Dance’ by Masters at Work. Enter stage left Belgium’s masters of the unexpected, Soulwax. Their reworking places Davidson’s customary spoken word vocals over an absolute rave beast of a backing track that slayed dancefloors throughout 2019 (remember those moments?)

 The original track: Disclosure ft. Eliza Doolittle ‘You & Me’ 

Remixer: Flume

Year: 2013

What’s the story?

2013 was the year Disclosure were everywhere. Hit singles, a universally loved debut album, playing at Glastonbury, and collaborations with other ‘of the moment’ acts such as London Grammar and Eliza Doolittle, featured here. Being asked to remix them at this time must have been quite a daunting task. Flume, however, seized the opportunity to make a name for himself on the international stage, having conquered his native Australia the preceding year with his debut LP. A pioneer of the sound that was to become dubbed Future Bass, Flume’s mix is the very definition of the radical re-work. Mostly beatless, it sees Eliza duelling with orchestral sounds in a warped workout.

The original track: Pet Shop Boys ‘Can You Forgive Her’ 

Remixer: MK

Year: 1993

What’s the story?

MK has, of course, been responsible for remixes that have catapulted songs to the top of the charts with both Nightcrawlers and Storm Queen, but we’ve opted to feature one of his mixes for a major artist that proved a perfect fit for his signature sound. Pet Shop Boys have roots that spread deep into club culture, and as such they have always been on the money when it comes to their choice of remixers. So it proved here, with MK not scared to do a full vocal mix that, while in stark and pared back contrast to the shiny pop brilliance of the original, proved to be one of the band’s most enduring club hits.

 The original track: U2 ‘Even Better Than The Real Thing’

Remixer: Paul Oakenfold & Steve Osborne

Year: 1992

What’s the story?

It’s fair to say that over the years, Paul Oakenfold has divided opinion. However, it’s equally fair to say that he has knocked down a lot of doors for club culture, none bigger than when he became the first person to remix the then biggest rock band in the world, U2. In tandem with studio partner Steve Osborne, Oakenfold had produced the Happy Mondays, something that had no doubt piqued U2’s interest as they went in a more experimental direction with the Achtung Baby album. However, this went way beyond the Mondays’ gloriously chaotic ‘indie dance’ stylings. U2 were superstars, and this mix paved the way for other major rock artists to open themselves up to dance interpretations. Many would do so, and many others would remix U2, but it started right here.

Sound / career defining remixes

For many DJs and producers, it can often be a remix project that helps them fine tune their sound or style – or in some cases, takes their career to a whole new level. Our final collection of gems reflects this.

The original track: Jamiroquai ‘Space Cowboy’ 

Remixer: David Morales

Year: 1994

What’s the story?

David Morales, Frankie Knuckles and the Def Mix crew ruled the remix roost through the 90s. Whether working together or solo, a Morales and / or Knuckles mix came with a stamp of quality and earned the trust of DJs and clubbers worldwide. Morales’ legendary Red Zone dub mixes were dark and dangerous, but it was his sweetly soulful vocal mixes that were a perfect fit for both big room dancefloors and airwaves. So many to choose from, but we’ve opted for the much-loved ‘Space Cowboy’. Jamiroquai had their roots in clubland, but still needed house remixes for peak time plays. Morales hit bullseye.

The original track: Scott Grooves ‘Mothership Reconnection’  

Remixer: Daft Punk

Year: 1998

What’s the story?

Detroit’s Scott Grooves was one of many international artists who recorded for Glasgow’s Soma label, and he followed up a well-received Roy Ayers collaboration with this homage to Parliament / Funkadelic. Daft Punk had started life on Soma, so the label pulled in a favour, asking them to remix ‘Mothership Reconnection’. It was an inspired pairing, as Thomas and Guy-Man took to their task with relish, producing a disco-funk-house hybrid that took dancefloors by storm. The video owes more than a little to 80s blockbuster movie Tron – Daft Punk would of course go on to soundtrack Tron: Legacy.

The original track: Sneaker Pimps ‘Spin Spin Sugar’ 

Remixer: Armand Van Helden

Year: 1996

What’s the story?

With a trio of mid-90s remixes, Armand Van Helden didn’t just hit on an immensely popular and unique sound, he all but birthed a genre. His revisions of ‘Professional Widow’ by Tori Amos, ‘Sugar is Sweeter’ by CJ Bolland, and ‘Spin Spin Sugar’ by Sneaker Pimps are widely credited as having helped create the blueprint for UK Garage. The Amos mix proved the biggest hit, albeit that it had little to do with Tori herself, who appears only in snatched vocal samples. Van Helden was one of many remixers who had realised that you could earn far more from a major label remix commission (“crazy bank” as he dubbed it) than from an independently released 12” of your own, so was quite happy to use many of his ideas on them. However, we have opted to spotlight the Sneaker Pimps mix, as it shows the formula could still work with much of the original song intact.

The original track: Isaac Tichauer ‘Higher Level' 

Remixer: Bicep

Year: 2016

What’s the story?

Australian Isaac Tichauer released his first album, Devotion, in 2012. It’s well worth checking out. However, it’s via this Bicep remix that his name is better known. Tichauer had linked up with London label Loft Records, and the Northern Irish duo were invited to remix one of the tracks from his Street Lessons EP. At this stage, Bicep’s revered debut album for Ninja Tunes was still a year away, and it was this remix, alongside their releases on the Feel My Bicep imprint, that helped nudge them steadily towards stardom. They chose to make more of the vocal hook than Tichauer himself did, and it gives the track an instant identity. Their wonderful trademark sound does the rest. The mix even forms part of their live set, and you can taste the reaction here. As the world welcomes Bicep’s heavily anticipated new album, we hope to hear more from Tichauer too.

The original track: Everything But The Girl ‘Missing’  

Remixer: Todd Terry

Year: 1995

What’s the story?

Everything But The Girl had reached the end of the road with their Warner Brothers-backed label. Commissioning remixes on ‘Missing’ was one of many last throws of the dice, but by the time DJs were receiving promos, they had been dropped. Frustrated that their hugely popular remix wasn’t going to see the light of day, UK house duo Chris & James asked their label Stress to try to license the track. There was one sticking point – EBTG’s Ben Watt preferred the Todd Terry mix, and insisted that must be the A side. As negotiations slowed, Warner belatedly realised they had a hit on their hands. Ben’s A&R instincts proved right, and it was the Terry mix that made the track a worldwide smash. EBTG immersed themselves in the dance music world via numerous collaborations, and Ben’s Lazy Dog club night and label. As for Todd Terry – he may have been dubbed ‘Todd the God’ as early as 1988, but ‘Missing’ put him on a whole new level.

The original track: Primal Scream ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ aka ‘Loaded’

Remixer: Andrew Weatherall

Year: 1989

What’s the story?

Primal Scream were doing ok as an indie band, but in early 1989, you would not have got very good odds if you had predicted that within 18 months they would have released an era-defining album. That they did, in the shape of Screamadelica, is down to the maverick genius of one man, the much missed Andrew Weatherall. The Scream had dived headlong into acid house and having befriended Weatherall, invited him to remix their maudlin single ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’. He was intrigued but had no interest in doing a standard mix. Given leeway to rip up the rulebook, the track was reinvented as ‘Loaded’, complete with cult film samples, blaring horns and gospel vocals, all over a sub-Soul 2 Soul beat. It set the tone for Screamedelica, was the making of Primal Scream, and set Weatherall off on his totally unique path.

Listen to the '16 Definitive Remixes' and more on our 'Best House & Club Tracks' playlist here: