I thought long and hard about what I would do for the 10th anniversary of this blog. While I’ve never been a big fan of self-congratulatory retrospectives, I am unabashedly proud that I’ve managed to keep this site going for 10 damn years. As I mentioned a few weeks back, nearly every single MP3 blog that inspired me to create this site no longer exist. A few of them, like Lost Bands Of the New Wave Era are still up in some sort of archival form so you can at least read about the bands in question, but most have been scrubbed entirely from the Internet. I can’t even remember the names of most of them.
But it’s not just the Internet that’s changed in 10 years, my life has been crazy. When I started this site I was working for a crummy online DVD retailer and living in a junk apartment in Pittsburgh. Since then I went back to college to get a second degree, went through about a billion other jobs (freelance and permanent), saw myself printed in a major international music magazine, bought a house, sold a house, MOVED TO FUCKING JAPAN, begin a new career as a teacher (which I love) and meet a wonderful man who I am so happy to call my boyfriend. Life’s been crazy.
Makes me wonder what the hell I’ll be doing ten years from now! But no matter what that is, I suspect I’ll still keep this blog going. I like writing it too much to quit.
Maybe one day I’ll even update the layout.
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Anyways, tonight I thought I’d kick off the celebratory flashbacks by looking at what I’ve probably dedicated more time to on this site than anything else, the obscure 12″ remix. It’s safe to say that Lost Turntable would not exist if it was not for the 12″ single. Actually, a more accurate statement would be that it’s fair to say that Lost Turntable would not exist if it wasn’t for the continued neglect of songs that were exclusive to 12″ singles. In the late 70s and up to the 90s, many great acts saved their best B-sides and remixes for the 12 incher. But in the 2000s, when many artists had their catalogs re-issued for inclusion on iTunes and other digital music storefronts, a lot of those remixes, B-sides and other tracks got lost in the shuffle.
I first started this blog, you could barely find any vintage New Order, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys or Erasure remixes on CD, let alone digitally. Those oversights gave me plenty of content in the early years of Lost Turntable, which nearly became a purely 80s-focused blog because of it. Things are better now, and you can at least find most of the best remixes and such by these artists on CD and digitally, thanks to box sets and deluxe re-issue campaigns.
But not every band can be New Order or Depeche Mode, and aren’t even lucky enough to get their entire album discography remastered and put up for sale online, let alone their non-album cuts. And others just don’t seem to care. So here are some of my favorite 12″ remixes that have yet to be re-released.
Lifted (Industrial Mix)
Lifted (Industrial Mix Instrumental)
Lifted (Alternalift Mix)
Lifted (Alternalift Mix Instrumental)
Lifted (Funk Mix)
Early in my collecting days, I basically bought any 12″ single I could find that had any name on it that I found the lest bit recognizable. That name in question was rarely the artist, more often than not it was the remixer or producer associated with the track. That was certainly the case with this single, which I bought only because it featured remixes by The Dust Brothers.
The Dust Brothers aren’t very prolific as performers, but they’re studio gods, working behind the scenes as remixers, producers and engineers with some of the greatest acts of the 80s, 90s and 2000s. They produced Paul’s Boutique, Odelay and the soundtrack to Spawn (underrated). They also produced Hanson’s breaktrhough record which, say what you will about, certainly sounds quite good from a technical and production standpoint.
They’ve toned down their output as of late, I don’t see many new credits by them on Discogs, but I’m still a fan and will buy any remix I see them credited on. They really have a knack for layering effects and instruments, almost like a modern-day Wall Of Sound. I’ve always been impressed with how they can stack so many samples, effects, vocals and instruments together without making it all sound like indecipherable garbage. I think more modern-day producers could learn from their work.
Their remixes of “Lifted” serve as a good example of their remix work that I’ve discovered, mixing together the big beats and crisp production of mid-90s electronic music (think Fatboy Slim) with the dirty, scuzzy guitars of the then dying alt-rock scene. They know how to mix a sequencer and a distrotion pedal better than anyone.
But who are XC-NN?
Yeah. that’s a good question. I guess.
I knew nothing about them when I bought this record nearly a decade ago, and still don’t know much about them now. I know they formed in the mid-90s as CNN but had to change their name when the network CNN was like “yo dudes that’s not going to fly.” They released an album no one cared about, followed that up with a sophomore effort even less people cared about, and then broke up. After that, Tim Bricheno, formerly of Sisters of Mercy, then formed Tin Star with fellow XC-NN member David Tomlinson. They apparently had one hit single in the states by the name of “Head.” I’ve never heard of it, let me check YouTube. I’m usually good with my forgotten 90s acts. I’m sure I’ve probably heard this tune.
Nope. I got nothing.
Anyway, they couldn’t follow up that track’s limited success I guess, they broke up again and that was it for that. No idea what they’re up to now, although Tim got together with another old group of his, All About Eve, for a reunion stint in the mid-2000s.
I tried to get into other XC-NN tracks after listening to “Lifted,” but I couldn’t do it. Sadly, they’re entirely deserving of their (lack of) reputation. Their blend of industrial electronica and rock music sounded fresh for about 10 minutes in the mid-90s, but that sound has not aged well, and became saturated not soon after. The people may had developed a taste of industrial rock in the wake of Ministry’s and Nine Inch Nail’s success, but that taste didn’t last long. And if there wasn’t enough of an appetite for angry electro-rock to keep acts like Filter and Stabbing Westward (underrated!) on the charts, there sure as hell wasn’t enough to sustain XC-NN. That being said, I’m going to stand by “Lifted.” Dust Brothers remix or not, this should’ve at least been a minor hit single. If the pop charts had room for Gravity Kill’s “Guilty” then I don’t see why they couldn’t have fit “Lifted” in there as well, at least for a short time.
If I would’ve heard “Lifted” when it first came out in 1995 I would’ve certainly loved it, and not just for it’s of-the-moment electronic/rock style. its vague angry lyrics would’ve fit my particular brand of teen angst perfectly.
You didn’t raise him
He just grew
You should have known him back then
Before he knew you
Those four lines are the best lines of the song, even better than the chorus, which works more on attitude than anything else. As a whole, the song is pretty obtuse, but I think these lines in particular read them as an attack on an absentee dad. My own father was certainly not absentee, and I think he’s usually tried his best. But in the mid-90s I sure as fuck had plenty to be angry about with him, so when I hear songs touching on that topic I sometimes find myself transplanted back to my pseduo-negelected teenage self and really identify with the track more than I actually have any right too.
“Lifted” isn’t a lost classic. But it’s certainly a lost also-ran, and a prime example of why I started Lost Turntable.
Now for some lost 12″ single remixes from bands you’ve actually heard of. Sorry if the audio is a little hit and miss, I recorded some of these years ago on old equipment.
I Can Dream About You (Extended Remix)
Dan Hartman’s lone hit came from the soundtrack to an absolute bomb of a flick, Walter Hill’s epic rock ‘n’ roll fable Streets Of Fire. I fucking love that movie. I love it’s insane alternate reality that combines a post-apocalyptic cityscape with the greatest stylistic hits of the 50s and 80s. I love its over-the-top performances by everyone from Michael Pare to Rick Moranis. I love the fact that it ends with a fucking steel sledgehammer fight. But most of all I love its epic soundtrack.
Strangely, Dan Hartman’s version isn’t in the movie proper. Instead it features a version by a made-up Motwon-style vocals group (which features Robert Townshend and the dude who played Bubba in Forrest Gump). This extended version isn’t as good as that one (damn I wish they’d release that somewhere) but it’s a pretty great version of a pretty great piece of 80s pop.
All She Wants To Do Is Dance (Extended Dance Remix)
I hate The Eagles but I love a lot of solo work by Eagles members, from Joe Walsh’s lovely “Life’s Been Good” to Glenn Fry’s “Smuggler’s Blues” to a hell of a lot of Don Henley’s solo work. You say you don’t like “Boys Of Summer?” I say you’re better at denying utterly catchy pop tunes than I ever hope to be. This track is no “Boys Of Summer,” an honest-to-goodness classic, but it’s great in its own right. Again, I’m shocked this remix hasn’t been re-issued anywhere recently.
Yesterday’s Men (Demo)
I usually hate it when demos are included as B-sides, it always feels like filler to me, and I’m rarely curious as to how an unfinished version of a song sounded. A rare exception to this rule would be this beautiful version of one of Madness’ best tunes, which strips what was already a pretty sparse song until it sounds less like a demo and more like a purposely lo-fi home recording that was recorded in someone’s closet with a cheap microphone and a store bought Casio. It’s like if Lou Barlow went ska. It’s almost intimate, and it really makes the lyrics hit even harder. Just beautiful.
Ready For The World
Oh Shelia (Extended Remix)
You can go to iTunes right now, do a search for the 12″ remix of this song and something comes up. But don’t believe the lies. That version is not the real 12″ remix. It’s a re-recorded version.
Re-recorded versions are blights on digital storefronts, and need to be wiped from this planet. They usually exist as a means for the artist to get royalties without having to pay the original record companies. And I get that, but they really do the fans a disservice, as they never ever sound as good as the originals. And even if they are technically better in some way or another, it doesn’t really matter, because people don’t want a technically better version of the song they know and love, they want the version they know and love! At least the original album version is on there.
Elect me for president and I will make it my first executive action to strip all re-recorded versions off digital storefronts and replace them with the originals. First on the plate, Def Leppard.
Yeah, it’s a stupid political platform, but it is any stupider than Trump?
Smooth Operator (12″ Version)
There’s this weird mall in Tokyo called Nakano Broadway that mostly focuses on geek culture stuff like figures, manga and old video games. Tucked away in a far off corner on the third or fourth floor of the mall is a really tiny movie store that focuses on weird cult flicks and art-house films. If you want to score Criterion blu-rays in Japan, that store is your best bet.
Whenever I go in there that dude is rocking out to a Sade blu-ray. So he knows what’s up.
Expect a few more posts like this for the rest of the month, with some regular posts with new rips interspersed. Thanks again to everyone who’s kept up with me over the years.