Here’s my audio and visual reinterpretation of Erasure’s “why can’t we all just get along” opus. For this clip I have mangled the song’s original rather excellent video, with hopes that my liberties will be excused by those involved.
The remix was done almost exactly 30 years ago at the dawn of 1987, around the same time as Daniel Miller’s legendary lost Laibach mix, which would account for the presence of his EMS Vocoder 2000 in the studio.
The edit of this mix is unusual in that there is no edit at all for the first couple of minutes. Having looped a few bars of backing vocal over the rhythm section I enjoyed the resulting chord inversions so much I just let it run, even though the results were a tad dissonant for an Erasure track. In fact I got a phone call from Flood after delivering the mix, to warn me that this one “might not fly”, as he could imagine Vince Clarke gagging somewhat on the jazzy chord shapes. But it did fly, Vince didn’t gag…and here it is, pop pickers!
It was a busy winter. We played more gigs during that season than at any other period. We also jettisoned most of our repertoire and wrote a new one. I became a father and was promptly evicted from my home and exiled from Stoke Newington, ending up with infant son Tom and his mother in a semi-derelict flat in Southwark. Soon after that the Brixton riots began.
A John Peel session from January 1981 catches us in transition between old set and new. One of the new songs was the appropriately titled Transit, which underwent something of a rewrite between January and its recording in April at our first session in Blackwing Studios, engineered by the estimable Eric Radcliffe and John Fryer, who were to curate most of our subsequent releases of that era.
All kinds of amazing music was being made at Blackwing by artists from the fledgling Mute and 4AD labels. One day we arrived at the studio to find Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet finishing up a song called Only You. Not the kind of thing you forget. The 4AD version of Song To The Siren sung by Liz Fraser was recorded there…gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. And I have previously mentioned my obsession with Dome, a project by Graham Lewis and Bruce Gilbert…my quest to discover their secrets led me to Eric, who schooled me in the art of the externally triggered noise gate.
Happy as we were with Blackwing, it has to be said that once again the John Peel version has a certain extra intensity. However I still feel that the rewrite is the better song. At the time, not everyone agreed with me.
My next Mute assignment was to mix two tracks in one night, the Erasure single Sometimes backed with Sexuality. This was Vince and Andy’s first big hit as a duo, and an important record for Mute.
What a fantastic gig, although I had to work like the devil, as an “alternative” mixer I wasn’t so much bound by the strictures of the dance floor or the need for radio play. My main job was to try to give a new spin on the track, to come up with something different. I was being paid to mess around with the multitracks of the gods.
On this occasion I had a new toy to help me out, an Akai S900 sampler, which I was still getting to know at this point. Here I mainly used it to loop and effect vocals.
The accompanying video is incorrectly labelled; as soon as you hear that undulating noise gate matrix, you know it’s a Rico joint.