Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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CD reviews: Two new collections showcase dangers and joys of remixing


Curtis Mayfield/Various Artists (Rhino)


Various Artists (Rhino/Atlantic)

These two discs are united by the remix but their musical focus is different, and they vary widely in their success.

On Mayfield: Remixed, 10 songs, including the classics Superfly, Move On Up, and People Get Ready, receive fresh interpretations, from funk to uptempo house, thanks to the remixers brought in to give Mayfield s catalog a new spin.

Despite the varying approaches of the remixers, the disc is unified by the extraordinary vocal talent of Mayfield and the enduring caliber of the songs. And while not every cut is an unqualified success, several are outstanding: Eric Kupper s wonderful house mix of Move On Up; the Latin style given Freddie s Dead, and the urban tone of Mixmastermike s mix of Pusherman.

Atlantiquity, due out May 10, features 12 tracks from the Atlantic Records vaults, remixed with only partial success. In several cases, rather than enhancing the songs, giving them a fresh perspective, the remixes will leave listeners yearning for the original.

That s certainly true of the uninspired remix of Slave s Watching You, the ruination of Average White Band s Pick Up The Pieces, pointless tinkering with the Spinners I ll Be Around, and the way the energy is drained from Sister Sledge s We Are Family.

In the midst of this, however, a couple of tracks show what can be done. King Britt gives Chic s A Warm Summer Night a Latin remix that keeps the identity of the original while adding a new rhythmic energy, and GB s remake of Carmen McCrae s Just A Little Lovin is outstanding.

These two releases show the potential and the possible pitfalls of remixing songs from the vaults. Done right, it can reinvigorate classic pop. Done wrong, there doesn t seem much point to it.



John Entwistle (Sanctuary)

John Entwistle was restless enough creatively to embark in 1971 on a solo career that produced nine albums and a backlog of overlooked songs that get their due on the double-disc anthology So Who s the Bass Player? As the only member of The Who formally trained as a musician, Entwistle was a talented arranger and horn player, in addition to his prowess on bass. The song selections are ideal, hitting on solo highlights like I Wonder, Too Late the Hero, Made in Japan, Thinkin it Over, and the appropriately titled Who Cares?



The Dirty Dozen Brass Band (Shout! Factory)

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is at its fun-lovin , foot-stompin best on this anthology that spans the group s 10 albums over 28 years. You ll be instantly wowed by its complex blend of urban dance rhythms and sophisticated, multi-layered bebop/jazz/funk harmonies. Especially cool treats include the group s first trademark hit, My Feet Can t Fail Me Now, plus its beautiful rendition of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Other highlights include a great collaboration with Dizzy Gillespie, and Don t You Feel My Leg with New Orleans legends Danny Barker and Eddie Bo.



Dave Insley (Redeye)

The baritone voice is rich, resonant, and warm, instantly winning favor with listeners. The 10 songs are perfect vehicles for Insley s smooth delivery, and the song selection showcases his wide range, from bluegrass to raw honky-tonkers to storytelling ballads. Insley claims that his area of specialization is Americana. Call it country by any other name, but it s fresh and surely original. Highlights on this are the title track, a gorgeous duet with Rosie Flores on Maricopa Mountains, and the pure fun rave-up, Roy Boy.



WATERTOWN, Mando Saenz (Carnival) He s eerily reminiscent of another singer-songwriter, Lyle Lovett, both in vocal delivery and choice of eclectic subject matter, but without the clever wordplay. Saenz may be the best discovery in a long while for fans of heartfelt Texas troubadours and their poignant takes on life. The music and lyrics go down smoothly with his laid-back presentations. K.R.

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