BLOG: Han Shot First
EDITOR'S NOTE: I've been putting off writing this for about two weeks now. Didn't think I could be inspired enough to fully invest, but as I began writing, the vein on my forehead began to present itself. And soon, I was immersed. You may pick up on my mad-as-hell-angry-prophet-denouncing-the-hypocrisies-of-our-times vibe as you read on...
January 16, 2014
Not a big fan of re-mixes, re-edits or re-creations.
Don't like 'em in the movies (Star Wars et al.) and definitely don't like 'em when it comes to my music.
Definitely do NOT think they have a place on the radio. OK, fine, put out all the anniversary box sets you want, but when the radio plays a song that I grew up with, I want to hear the song I grew up with, not the remix. Do you think a re-mix of "Coming On Strong" by Brenda Lee inspired Golden Earring? No. The radio played THAT forgotten song, not the 6.1 stereo-surround re-mix from a lost outtake. But I digress.
My first experience with re-mixes was when I was a kid. I bought a compilation album on a K-Tel type label. That was my first mistake. K-Tel and others like it, as I learned, was famous (better yet, notorious) for cramming 20+ songs on a single 12-inch vinyl record. Their evil henchmen performed all sorts of dark arts on the music, like editing a verse or two out of most of the songs, then speeding them up a few percent to save time.
Keep in mind, these were compilations of hit songs, whos hit versions were already edited by their own record company down to 3:05, so radio stations would be more inclined to play them. Billy Joel laments this sad state of affairs on his song, "The Entertainer."
Those same labels advertised "Original Artists" on the cover, only to replace many of those original hit songs from artists like The Classics IV with a version featuring only the lead singer, Dennis Yost. (From the "turnabout is fair play" department: members of The Classics IV later went on, without Dennis, to become The Atlanta Rhythm Section and cover their previous hit, "Spooky") BTW - Cover versions are OK by me. And that will probably become another blog someday.
I can understand replacing a "dirty" word so the song can get played on the radio, or in the case of The Kinks' "Lola," replacing Coca-Cola with Cherry Cola to avoid a law suit. But that's not what burns my britches. When I hear a song like "No Matter What" from Badfinger, I want to hear it as I heard it when I first heard it. I want to hear Pete Ham bump the microphone when they stop for a moment near the end. I want to hear the bad engineering that caused Robert Plant's primal screaming and John Bonham's concussive drums to bleed though layers of magnetic tape on Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." And I definitely want to hear Britt Eckland talking sexy French to me on Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night."
Since then the number of times a re-mix has blackened my soul is as numerous as stars in the sky. I could probably write a book if I wasn't so lazy (and suffering from black soul syndrome).
The thing that set me off - my "trigger" if you will? The radio just played Jeff Lynne's re-creation of the ELO classic "Evil Woman." Oh, boo-hoo, Russ. Well, YES! Boo-Hoo!!! That song and the time in my life it represents means a lot to me, dammit. And now, its just another 21st century counterfeit - no memories included.
Here's where I puss-out: In all fairness, it might have been a one-time thing, but there was no DJ babble, either before or after it played which explained why blah, blah, blah. So what can a poor boy do? Channel my inner Eeyore and wallow in self-pity at the loss of my naiveté, of course. As long as they never play that version again, I will forgive them.
And for the record, Han Solo shot first, so bite me, George.
© 2017 Russ Egan