Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium|
Another round-up of the best, the worst, and the most intriguing trash of the past and present.
"I can see my house from here!" I wish. This picture was taken from the parking lot to the castle that overlooks Bled, Slovenia.
[Them] Banshis - Day by Day (Original Italian-Language Album Version)
The group once known as "Them Banshis" apparently has dropped the "Them." Their previous singles were dancefloor pumpers, and despite offering some good ideas they suffered from the fact that their lead singer sounded exactly like Dolores out of Cranberries, which is to say that they evoked painful memories of a crap band. But in "Day by Day (Album Version)" a number of changes occurred. First, the singer sings in Italian for the majority of the tune, wiping out the Cranberries associations. Second, the dancefloor formula has been dropped for something slower and more majestic. And finally, the band deploys a slow-building melody that, with its never-ending array of key changes, becomes a goosebump evoking celebration of how to really write a song. It has a ton of tricks up its sleeve, including a warm, analog synth solo that reminds me of Pink Floyd's "Any Colour You Like"now that's wacked. It's not fast enough to qualify as Eurodance, but its synth-driven sound and the band's previously dancier material make it close enough to plug here. Besides, it would be a shame if you missed out. It's magnificent. It's the best thing I've heard in months. And you can order it as a 0,99 € download from the promising www.danceria.comkeeping in mind that you should pretend to be Italian as far into the order process as you possibly can, and then you must live with the fact that the resultant WMA file is not copyable to CD or convertible into an mp3. Though you or a friend may know another trick or two around that, of course.
By the way, and I hate to say this since I'd love to see Banshis break into the American markets, but DO NOT buy the all-English-language version they are offering on iTunes. The syllables don't fit the music at all, and the song is severely truncated (by about 45 seconds) from its original version. In fact, it's the worst transition from another language into English that I have ever heard. It is heartbreaking how they ruined their own song for the English-speaking markets. Hopefully, Danceria.com's Italian-language version will remain available.
Musikman - The Day After Tomorrow
If you were looking for a trance adaptation of the stirring score from the enviro-disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow, here you go. It's a magnificent monster of a tune sure to evoke panoramic visions of melting ice caps. It's on DJDownloads.com.
Kosheen - Catch
In many ways Kosheen's "Catch" reminds me of trash titan Sonique: strong, live female vocal on top of chunky breaks. It's all pop, yet it has real teeth as well. The lyrics aren't quite as clever as I imagine the writer thinks ("Call it fate / Call it back / Call it off / Don't call me later" sounds like the punchline to a joke you'd hear in a singles bar). But regardless it's still plenty good, with a deliciously pure Euro vibe. Speaking of, I heard it one morning while seated at the Maverik Pub in Celje, Slovenia. While it played, I sipped coffee and stared out the window at a cute college girl who wore a bright pink and purple furry jacket with hair to match. So, snag this tune, take it to Europe with you, and make your own memories with it!
In 2006, Blank & Jones produced a trancier version of this song.
Sash! - Adelante
Proof that I've been at this trash thing for a long time, Sash!'s "Adelante", which I have first-hand memories of, would now have to qualify as a "classic," as it was making the rounds back in 2001. Back then I listened to it with Mihaela at the Cafe Smily in Bucharest. Nobody else was in the cafe, so she cranked up the stereo and jumped around to it while collecting empty beer glasses. The tune is all right; not Sash!'s best, but it's certainly a functional Sash! song. The video, featuring keyboards suspended in the air by chains, is a hoot, and contains enough campiness to overshadow the tune it promotes.
DJ Cal vs. 091 - Girls Don't Like Electronic Music (Callea Back to Sexy Acid Mix)
As proof that the Italo-electro brilliance that typified such tunes as "Discoteca" and "Musica Eletronica" is maybe being squandered, I submit the less than brilliant DJ Cal vs. 091 "Girls Don't Like Electronic Music (Callea Back to Sexy Acid Mix)." I love the title and the concept (a woman's voice repeating the title over and over atop electro stylings). But it's also sort of dull, sorely lacking the funkiness that made the other two cited examples so much better. What's worse, what should have been its master stroke of comic geniusswitching the lyrical sentiment from English into Frenchis ruined by the addition of a woman moaning orgasmically behind it. Which is sort of distracting. And pointless. An unfortunate "Hey! You know what would be funny?" inclusion. Lil' Louis and the World's "French Kiss" remains the only song to successfully pull off the orgasm; the rest sound as awkward and embarrassing as your own worst bedroom romps. OK and mine too. And in a few cases ours, but I'm just going to say that that was your fault. Actually, it would have been funnier if the voice had expressed the "girls don't like..." sentiment in twenty different languages. I should confess that I have edited the version I have; it's called the "'Thank God it's a Whole Minute and a Half Shorter Than the Original "Callea Back to Sexy Acid Mix"!' Mix."
Videosex - Balkan Federation
The best party songs of all time were produced between 1988 and 1991. These included S-Express's "Theme from S-Express," Dee-lite's "Groove is in the Heart," Westbam's "And Party," and, from Slovenia, Videosex's "Balkan Federation." OK, you are forgiven if you haven't heard of Videosex. They started out as a talented group of teenagers enamoured with synthesizers and bouncy new wave music. By 1989, the machine was running smoothly, as evidenced by their magnificent "Balkan Federation." Everything fun about music is crammed into its four and a half minutes. "Russia's red and Greece is white!" the singer chirps, like a hyper-caffeinated kid on a playground. There are admonitions to run down the beach, which in Slovenia is about fifty meters long. Brilliant!
Kylie Minogue - Giving You Up (Alter Ego Mix)
Kylie Minogue gets taken to the cleaners in Alter Ego's storming remix of "Giving You Up." I listened to the breathy original play on the radio while I ate a pizza in a restaurant in Bled, Slovenia which looked out at the famous cathedral on the island. Actually, here's a photo taken from that very moment. Anyway. The Alter Ego mix strips all the Kylie out of it (save one looped sigh), and converts the tune into a relentless electro grinder garnished with gorgeous swatches of electronic sounds. Dazzling.
Boogie Pimps - The Music in Me (West End Sun Remix)
At long last we hear back from the Boogie Pimps, who gave us the brilliant "Salt Shaker (Somebody to Love)" back in 2003, then watched all their thunder get stolen by the all-too-similarly named Royal Gigolos. I have to say, my heart always breaks for Boogie Pimps when I reflect on this, but to be honest the Pimps failed to come up with another tune as catchy as that mighty first effort. Well, their latest single, a cover of the Kiki Dee Band's "The Music in Me," is not particularly great either. But the West End Sun Remix takes things to a beautifully surreal level with its strange blend of house and trance elements. May it put some money into the Pimps' pockets and get them back on track again. It's on DJDownloads.com.
Missyna - Wem willst du traum
Ex-Basis member Missyna's "Wem willst du traum" was a 2001 B-side to the female rapper's mellow follow-up to the hyperkinetic "Das Leben," "Furchte dich nicht." It contains a guitar riff that sounds like it might have been plucked from Led Zeppelin's "Custard Pie," "We Will Rock You" stomps and claps, and an AC/DC'ish guitar lick reminiscent of the one featured at the end of the almost-but-not-quite cover of "Back in Black" played for comedian Lewis Black before his "Daily Show" segments. All of which makes it better than the A-side.
Daphne and Celeste - I Love Your Sushi
The gist of the Daphne and Celeste project: two precocious teenage girls sing the sorts of lyrics you'd actually expect a couple of precocious teenaged girls to write (as opposed to the words moaned in "Baby One More Time"). Of course, as is the case with so many good ideas, the project flopped. D&C are best known in the United States for "U.G.L.Y.," a cheerleader taunt fest that was appropriately featured on the soundtrack to Bring It On. Their third and last single, a cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out," was relative crap when one considers the much better contenders on their album We Didn't Say That!. One superior alternative would have been the brilliant "I Love Your Sushi," an homage (of sorts) to Japan, wherein the girls make observations about sumo wrestlers, karaoke, and, of course, sushiin particular your sushi, which, I might add, they love. Quoting lyrics by themselves doesn't adequately convey the D&C experience; I encourage you to go to GEMM.com and hunt down a copy of their album yourself. You'll thank me later.
Pakito - Living on Video (Original Mix)
Another one of those aggressively martial sounding Italo dance tunes (along the lines of M.A.D.R.A.S.'s brilliant "Touch and Take My Body"), Pakito's "Living on Video (Original Mix)," a cover of an old Euro-classic by Trans-X, brings dancefloor fist-pumping to the fore. Not much to talk about here: a simple, fat synth riff, sproingy beats, and a guy shouting, "HEYYYYYYY HUWAAAAAA!!!" It works. (Noot's Vocal Mix is an above average vocal reworking well worth checking out, too.)
I Love N.Y. - Seasons of Love (Broadway Mix)
Why not take the most popular song from the mega-hit musical "Rent" and turn it into a house tune? Why, I could think of a few reasons. But the result, which can be heard in I Love N.Y.'s "Seasons of Love (Broadway Mix)" [!!!!!] packs an enormous amount of feel-good sunniness and will no doubt please the drama geeks in your circle of friendsif you dare have such friends. Since I myself was not familiar with "Rent" when I first heard this tune, I thought that the artists behind the track had sampled a 1978 Captain and Tenniel song. Its many references to "cups of coffee" triggered false memories of it having been featured in an old Maxwell House commercial. All this aside, if you like the original, you'll want to check this out. Heck, I like it. It's on Danceria.com, where again I must remind you that the files you download come down in the form of copy-protected WMA's. But you or your geek boyfriend may know a way around that problem. Of course, I know nothing and am powerless to help you.
Scooter - Hello! (Good to Be Back)
Scooter are back, they think it's good to be so, and so they offer a sort-of cover of a song by (then) rock legend and (now) jailbird pedophile Gary Glitter called "Hello! (Good to Be Back)." "Hello!" finds the lads returning to a more "Nessaja"-like sound, right down to the same keyboard noises (hmm, they've ripped off everybody else; they might as well rip themselves off too). Sheffield Dave shouts about taking us "by storm to the year 2G"; does that mean we're going back in time? If you can't get past Scooter's obsession with quasi-covers, it helps to think of them as a sort of live mash-up project.
Miladojka Youneed - Living in America
Slovenian group Miladojka Youneed, which I'm told was the first Slovenian band to appear on [Euro] MTV, did a great cover back in the early 90's of James Brown's "Living in America." It's industrial jazz funk! Well! That would suck then, wouldn't it? But thanks to the group's enthusiasm, thick accents, a great sax, and balls-out confidence (they really do the Godfather of Soul proud), this thing soars far beyond, say, Rise Robots Rise. "Two time! Aye-Aye!"
Rammstein - Amerika
To the uninitiated, Rammstein might sound like a scowly, angry, all-too-serious metal group. But they have a fun side, too, as demonstrated in the brilliant video to their magnifienct "Amerika." Spinal Tap may have lampooned the concept, but years later Rammstein really seems to have put its finger precisely on that elusive beast called "the majesty of rock." Plus, in addition to tearing any party apart, this tune makes good points about the corporate-driven Americanization of the world. There's an English language version of this song, too, but downloading that would be too ironic. Stick with the German instead.
Rapination feat. Kym Mazelle - Love Me the Right Way (the Real Rapino 12")
Classic sounds from Rapination featuring Kym Mazelle, "Love Me the Right Way (the Real Rapino 12")." I rediscovered this marvelous tune while going through my old Radio 1 cassettes (this from a 1992 "Essential Selection" show). On that particular cassette Mark Goodier enthusiastically explained that Rapination were the Rapino Brothers. But Mark never got around to answering the question that naturally follows: "Who dey?" Times sure have changed. But we can thank those Rapinos for great hooks and a kicking house organ melodywhy it's the spirit of ur-Trash! Contains the immortal line, "How can I make you rub me the riiiiiihhh waybe?" OK, so the diction is a little offand English is Kym Mazelle's birth language, so there's really no excuse. The CD single is available for cheap from a number of vendors, the best priced ones for Americans being on Amazon. As for Kym, she recently appeared on the UK version of "Celebrity Fit Club."
Kylie Minogue - What Do I Have to Do?
From that same golden era of dance music comes Kylie Minogue's "What Do I Have to Do?" It's maybe the cheeriest thing offered by the post-"Locomotion" Kylie (before she became an icier queen of cool). But a bigger issue I've been made aware of tracking these things down bears mentioning: Original 12" mixes are becoming an endangered species. Tracks like "What Do I Have to Do?" eventually become available only on greatest hits CDs (the record labels do this to save money by stopping production of the original albums). Only the radio edits are featured in these packages. A bonus CD of remixes is sometimes included, but these are usually "updated" versions which, in addition to being pretty pointless, almost always suck. Just thought I'd share. [UPDATE - 14 June 2011 - U.S. iTunes store is offering three versions of the original CD singles of this tune, a positive sign that yesterday's dance remixes might yet live on.]
Faith Hill - The Way You Love Me (Love to Infinity Remix)
Why, in the age of iTunes (and continued MPAA legal action) do folks still file-share music? Because the Love to Infinity remix of Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me" has yet to see a U.S. release six years later, that's why. It's not like the original country and western version would be an acceptable dancefloor substitute! This travesty occurred during Eurotrash's pre-glasnost era, when all the fun mixes were released in Europe (and the rest of the world) and we Americans got stuck with hip-hop versions, acoustic versions, and shitty B-sides instead. Regarding the peculiar notion of Faith Hill rockin' a Romanian discotheque (and she has), consider that many country and western stars have enjoyed the Eurotrash remix treatment. For example, during DJ Cyberian Tyger's and my visit to Poland in 2002 only the trash remix of Shania Twain's "I'm Gonna Getcha Good" video played on the telly. Why? Because the average continental European cannot coordinate rhinestones with Armani. Incidentally, one thing I love about women in country and western is that many of them, like Ms. Hill for example, are hot as hell. They are usually presented as wholesome, down-home, fun-lovin' gals, but somehow, in their videos, the directors find a way to "playfully" allude to a far sluttier side. Which reminds me: The video to "The Way You Love Me" (scored by the Love to Infinity radio edit version of the song) happens to be included on the Love to Infinity Mixes Enhanced CD single. I am a proud owner, and lately have spent several minutes each day drooling over Ms. Hill's leggy cover shot. It's a motivator for me to leave my Eurotrash dungeon and start interacting with the NASCAR chicks outside.
Faith Evans - Mesmerized (Freemasons Mix)
Continuing the essay I started above, now we seem to be entering a new era of Euro-openness, as demonstrated by the other great Faith of American music, R&B queen Faith Evans. She has a magnificent dance remix available on iTunes right now, "Mesmerized (Freemasons Mix)," which is exactly the sort of thing that in 2001 would never have been released in the U.S. The Freemasons have crafted a superb, upbeat tune that pays homage to a whole gamut of dance styles, including 70's disco (there's a distinctive bit of "Don't Leave Me This Way" in there) and acid house. Of course, Ms. Evan's voice rocks, too. It's pretty ridiculous that only a radio edit version is available on iTuneshow much more does it cost them or Ms. Evans's record label to release the full 12" mix as well? I guess America is still taking baby steps towards dancefloor savviness, but this is progress.
Housetrap - The Way (Housetrap Mix)
Housetrap's "The Way (Housetrap Mix)"Whoa. First off. "Housetrap." That's cute. Second, far from being house, this is a groovy electro dance tune with cool little 303 touches (nice to hear our old friends in electronic music dusted off every once in a while). Check it out on DJDownloads.com.
Benassi Bros. - Feel Alive
With the release of long-player Phobia, Benassi Bros. can rightfully claim the title of greatest current dance project. The "Layla"-sampling "Feel Alive" is on heavy rotation on my computer. The impassioned, soaring vocal somehow nudges this track onto the "serious" side of the dance divide (something the Benassi imitators never even tried to pull off).
Alex Gaudino & Jerma present Lil' Love - Waiting for Tonight
Alex Gaudino and Jerma's second Lil' Love single, a cover of Kidz Bop Kids'I'm sorryJ. Lo's "Waiting for Tonight," draws from exactly the same sound palette as their first massive success, "Little Love," so there'll be no mistaking this tune as being from anyone but those same artists when it destroys dancefloors around the world this spring. And what an interesting palette it is! It's pretty exciting to hear someone invent a unique, signature sound in the relatively faceless and all too bland genre that is house. "Waiting for Tonight" is not up to "Little Love" levels of greatness, but it does pack a wickedly subtle little key change in the verses that will likely tickle your fancy and an 80's sort of chorus that would feel right at home in the new Miami Vice movie. Of course, I could say the same about the original.
Purple Haze - Adrenaline (Original Mix)
Much lauded by trance fans, and featured on a recent Ferry Corsten mix CD, Purple Haze's "Adrenaline (Original Mix)" puts the "trance" back in trance, with a hypnotic but subtly groovy little melody. Interestingly, the opening beats and (relatively) slow pace will have dance-o-philes first thinking they mistakenly downloaded a house song instead of a trance one. I like it when my expectations are challenged. It's on DJDownloads.com.
K90 - Cosmos (Wavetraxx Remix)
I was wondering what had become of Wavetraxx recently, when I discovered the DJDownloads.com site and began a long (and still continuing journey) through the recent history of trance 12" records. There I found K90's "Cosmos (Wavetraxx Remix)." The original song has some good hooks to it, but Wavetraxx adds a lot more color to his take, plus some big, beautiful synth stabs that manage to make this the winning version. It finds inspired middle-ground between all that Special-D'ish "happy trance" that's been coming out lately and "regular" trance.
Alyssa - Superstar (DJ Satomi Happy Trance Extended Mix)
And along those lines, Alyssa wants to be a "Superstar" in this cute little number, and she got a nice Special-D'ish sounding remix, the "DJ Satomi Happy Trance Extended Mix." Happy trance is a popular and somewhat irritating genre that's about as close to happy hardcore as Eurodance is allowed to get these days. Oddly enough, this mix seems to use some of the same sounds found in Death in Vegas's decidedly un-trash "Rekkit." I make these pedantic connections in order to demonstrate to all fans of "quality" electronic music that there is room for you in our happy, happy Eurotrash world.
Club House - Speed of Sound (Joy Kitikonti Remix)
One for the "I cannot believe they kicked out a trash dance version of that song!" column, Club House's "Speed of Sound (Joy Kitikonti Remix)" turns the Coldplay instant-classic into an unforgettable...something unforgettable, anyway. The lush synth sounds that follow the choruses are actually an inspired touch; the rest is debatable, but after a few beers I suspect you'll love it, too. Interestingly, Club House have had a decades-long career making dance versions of pop songs.
Madonna - Forbidden Love
Now that you've played the hell out of "Hung Up," turn to the second best Ameritrash song on Madonna's new album, "Forbidden Love." Lush, lovely, dreamy; its only handicap is the typically vapid Madonna lyrics. If you're still not certain whether or not it's worth the purchase, ask Jelena to play it for you next time you're at the Café Romeo in Ljubljana.
Videosex/Laibach/Germania - Across the Universe
I'm not quite clear on who gets the credit here, as I don't read Slovene, but Videosex's double CD compilation Arhivideosex contains a cover of the Beatles classic "Across the Universe." The song is produced by Slovenia's biggest musical export, Laibach, and the confusion arises as to whether it was originally released by Videosex, Laibach, or Laibach's "Germania" project (update--it's on a Laibach album). Regardless, it's a lovely production, comprised entirely of a harpsichord, a single droning...I don't know what sort of instrument makes that noise...and Anja Rupel's beautiful multitracked vocals. It's serene, peaceful, and finishes in an unexpectedly cute kinda way. A fine way to conclude this compendium, and to drift off into the Land of Nod.
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