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Various Artists – [Album]

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Sunday, 21 July 2013

I have mixed feelings about remixes. (Remixed feelings? Sorry.) While I have certainly heard a number of interesting ones, but too often they seem like a self-indulgent exercise which adds nothing to the original song. I would apply the same criteria for judging remixes that I apply to cover songs: if you’re going to do it, make something original out of the song. Make it your own.

So here we have remixes of Bob Marley’s entire Legend album. Marley seems like an ideal candidate for remixing; the strength of his rhythm tracks provides a solid foundation to build upon. Even so, the end result is inconsistent in this case. Some of the producers go all out, others just shuffle the pieces. In the end, only a handful of the tracks really stand out as significant reworkings of the songs.

The two most interesting tracks turn the original compositions upside down. Thievery Corporation completely space out on “Get Up Stand Up,” and create a track which is much more a trippy meditation than a call to arms. On the other hand, Stephen Marley turns the energy of “Easy Skanking” up from a mellow stoned vibe into a tension filled piece more akin to meth than weed.

Others hit a middle ground. Roni Size’s take on “I Shot the Sheriff” and Pretty Lights' work on “Exodus” are almost new songs; both are rocked up heavily. Yet the two rely on a heavy use of rapid-fire percussion which, in the end, clutters up the songs as much as it propels them. Nickodemus and Zeb funk up “Jamming” in a way that retains the feel of the original while adding even more energy. Z-Trip jazzes up “Punk Reggae Party,” but doesn’t significantly alter it, although Lee “Scratch” Perry does add a nice rapped tribute to Marley in the middle.

But there are plenty which are barely changed. Ziggy Marley starts out his version of “Redemption Song” with an interesting new riff, but almost immediately reverts to the original sound. Stephen Marley just adds some extraneous noise to “Buffalo Soldiers.” On “Three Little Birds,” he and Jason Bentley add some echo, and that’s about it. The Roc Remix of “Could You Be Loved” barely alters the song at all.

It’s too bad so few of these producers really went out on a limb with these songs. There was so much potential, yet, for the most part, they restricted themselves to a limited palate of effects — more aggressive percussion, sound effects sweeping across, the occasional use of echo. To me, it doesn’t add enough to the original album to justify the effort.

Artist:

www.bobmarley.com/
www.facebook.com/BobMarley
www.twitter.com/bobmarley

Album:

Legend Remixed is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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Various Artists – [Album]

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

It's hard to believe that it's been nineteen years since NoFX released The P.M.R.C. Can Suck On This (the second time) and, even at that, who could have known what it would lead to? That six-song 7” (which boasted a photo collage of Tammy Fay Bakker pegging then-husband and televangelist Jim Bakker on the cover of the first pressing) was poorly recorded, hastily assembled and modestly noticed, but it was also the first notice issued by a record label that would later become an institution, Fat Wreck Chords. Whether or not owners “Fat” Mike Burkett and his wife Erin had big aspirations in mind when they founded Fat Wreck may never be known but, since then, the label has become something of a punk mecca rivalled only by Epitaph in stature. While Epitaph may be the nearest immediate competition (and Burkett's band called that label home for quite a while), Fat Wreck is based on a whole different set of values; the label has a long-standing history of entering into single-album deals with bands, affording artists the opportunity to release as many albums as they like elsewhere (several times in one year), has supported, financed and distributed other labels (Fat Mike fronted Chris Hannah and Jord Samolesky of Propagandhi $50,000 to start G7 Welcoming Committee, which he was able to recoup in just months from the sales of Propaghandi records, and other distributed labels have included Pink & Black and Honest Don's) and played host to a succession of venerable names including The Dickies, The Vandals, Rise Against, Descendents, Against Me!, The Real McKenzies and Anti-Flag to name only a few.
 
It's been a crazy ride and it would be remiss to not include the words "so far" in that sentiment. Until now, the label has never looked back either – but twenty years is the sort of milestone that's difficult to not trip over, so now seems like as good a time as any to reflect.
 
It is worth mentioning that there is economy to be enjoyed in the eighty-eight songs that populate Fat Wreck's three-disc Wrecktrospective but, even better, long-time fans will begin to salivate over the possibility of getting to hear some of the rarities that the set includes too. It's actually a well-rounded set, in that way, because it can appeal to everyone.
 
After disc one trips through a greatest hits sampler that includes key tracks from some of the biggest names ever to cross the label's stable (including, but not limited to, NoFX, Rise Against, Against Me!, Descendents, Avail, Screeching Weasel, Less Than Jake and Propaghandi), disc two raids the vaults and dusts off some long-lost demos by those same bands and more – if only to give contrast to the originally released tracks and tantalize long-time fans.
 
The funny thing is that, while super-fans will cream themselves at the selection of rarities on Disc Two (the elegaic, acoustic take on Against Me!'s "You Look Like I Need A Drink" is a favorite, as is the really scruffy take of "It's My Job To Keep Punk Rock Elite" by NoFX and "Living Will (Get You Dead)" by The Loved Ones), the catch is to remember that they are indeed demos; they're unpolished and by no stretch of the imagination representative of anyone's final product. Because of that, Disc Two will have a very polarizing effect on listeners. Fans will thrill at the raw, rough and not-quite-ready vibes that dominate the version of Zero Down's "No Apologies" and The Dickies' demo of "My Pop The Cop" which is trebly, old-school fun but there's no arguing that the songs aren't done and so will have unschooled listeners scratching their heads at the appeal. They're not representative and not even really all that strong, but they have their place here and will find an audience.
 
The disc that no one will be able to argue the value of is Disc Three. Collecting the entire Fat Club 7" series onto a single CD for the first time, Wrecktrospective closes the proceedings out with a great, big, extended bang as twelve Fat alums get collected and shot forth at listeners. Because all these songs were taken from 45 RPM records, each is wound tight and succinctly with effort applied to ensure the greatest impact is made – no fucking around. Because of that, Disc Three plays lke the greatest punk mixtape made in years; the prime cuts by The Vandals, American Steel, The Real McKenzies, Strike Anywhere, Swingin' Utters and The Lawrence Arms all burn bright, short and hot as they pour everything they've got into the limited medium out of respect (for fans who are buying them, and history – 45s were once a way of life for punk bands) and to make a definitive impression. In this case, no one missed the point of what the seven-inch stands for (The Real McKenzies making it sound like the record is skipping in another round is classic) and Disc Three in itself makes this Wrecktrospective worth the price of purchase. If one typically expects a prize in a retrospective set like this, Disc Three is definitely a better offering than anyone could reasonably hope for.
 
So who buys a set like this? Without meaning to sound coy, any fan of any of the bands that ever released music on Fat Wreck would be well-served and satisfied by this set. By collecting some landmark tunes, some that few outside the bands have heard and some that are genuine collector's items, Wrecktrospective covers all the bases more than once as it runs through It presents the label and the bands that have called it home at their best and shows how rich a history the label has.
 
Artist:

Fat Wreck Chords label site

Fat Wreck Chords unofficial wiki

Download:

Against Me – "You Look Like I Need A Drink" – (demo) later re-recorded for Against Me! as the Eternal Cowboy

Anti-Flag – "Turncoat" – The Terror State
Descendents – "'Merican" – Cool To Be You

NoFX – "It's My Job To Keep Punk Rock Elite" – (demo) later re-recorded for War On Errorism
Rise Against – "Heaven Knows" – Revolutions Per Minute

The Dickies – "My Pop The Cop" – demo from two-song seven-inch

Album:

Wrecktrospective
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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