Soundwaves

Depeche Mode, Toni Braxton, Everything but the Girl, Roxy Music

Doug Rule
Published on April 21, 2005, 12:00am | Comments

DEPECHE REFRESHED... Talk about a change of heart. A year and a half ago, Dave Gahan told Rolling Stone he had no interest in continuing as the lead singer of Depeche Mode. “I don't see that there's any point in making another record,” he said. But since then, his first solo album, Paper Monsters, was a critical and commercial flop, so Gahan has now changed his tune. “It's a great feeling to be back together in the studio again and we are very excited about the new material,” he told Billboard last week. Yes, that's right: this fall we'll see what we didn't expect to see, a new Depeche Mode album, the first in four years, and their eleventh in 25 years together. Gahan was beside himself in gushing to Billboard about the effort. “We're all feeling incredibly positive about the album. [Producer] Ben Hillier has brought a whole new dynamic to the group which is quite inspiring.” No further information about the album -- it's not known, for example, if Martin Gore will handle chief songwriting duties, as before. We can only hope. But a new dynamic is in order, considering that the group's last effort, 2001's Exciter, didn't even sell 500,000 copies in the U.S., a far cry from its multi-million-selling glory days. Still, Hillier, who has worked with many of the most revered indie-pop British bands, from Blur to the Doves, will likely hew closer to the twisted rock of latter-day Mode music than that of its original, and far-better, twisted disco sound....

UN-BREAKING MY HEART (AGAIN)... It's also been years since we've heard new music from Toni Braxton, and her last outing, 2003's More Than A Woman, was less-than-successful. She's just released a new single, however, the mid-tempo, hip-hop-styled “Please,” and her husky, sexy voice sounds as good as ever. “Please” is the first track from a forthcoming album. Even better, Braxton has just released her first-ever remix compilation: the unbelievably, unrelentingly great Un-Break My Heart: The Remix Collection. The 11-track set, sequenced and confidently mixed by Hex Hector, features the remixes you know -- Hector and Mac Quayle's HQ2 mix of “Spanish Guitar,” David Morales' “You're Makin' Me High,” Frankie Knuckles' “I Don't Want To” and Knuckles' and Soul Hex's remixes of the title track. All of these still retain their celebrated status as amazing reinterpretations of sleepy R&B ballads, though HQ2's blazing, emotional “Spanish Guitar” is my pick as her best remix ever. The collection also includes five previously unreleased tracks, including a buzzing HQ2 remix of “Hit the Freeway” and two remixes of “He Wasn't Man Enough” by Peter Rauhofer and Junior Vazquez. Edited versions of each “Man Enough” remix are imaginatively included back to back and presented as if they were just one 10-minute remix. That Hector is able to pull off that magic trick -- and produce a nearly perfect compilation, captivating from start to finish -- is testament to his musical prowess....

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Depeche Mode Singles: 86-98

Toni Braxton: Remixes

Everything But the Girl: Remixes

EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL ADAPTS... Braxton's remixed set is not the only one currently vying for your dollars. After years of neglecting the dance music consumer, the big record labels are slowing but surely again realizing the value in offering up remixes. A number of compilations featuring remixes of various artists are already out, and many more will drop in the next month. But a newer approach is to release compilations featuring remixes of material from just one artist. Besides Braxton from Sony/BMG (via its LaFace subsidiary), there's also the Atlantic Records release of Adapt or Die: 10 Years of Remixes from Everything But The Girl, the downtempo electronica wizards. Here, an eclectic crew of remixers remake the favorite hits from the band's Ben Watt and distinctive vocalist (and Watt's wife) Tracy Thorn, making most of the tracks suitable for a fast-footed dance floor. Knee Deep, Dave Wallace, Todd Terry and Kevin Yost do an amazing job here. But there's one mishap: Pull Timewarp's remix of “Temperamental,” which slows down the song to an almost appealingly creepy slow-motion. But it's a pace that's ultimately just too sleepy....

ROXY MUSIC RECONSIDERED... A lesser-known compilation but one definitely worth your while is the Basic Lux/Tommy Boy release of Roxy: Re-Modeled. Unlike the others, this collection features various artists who've reworked tracks written and originally performed by one artist, the influential British synth-pop band Roxy Music. Most of the artists who've refashioned the 13 tracks here are unknown house music artists, and it's not clear why bigger names, from Erasure to Duran Duran to Depeche Mode, weren't recruited -- or at least not successfully so. After all, the goal, according to the liner notes, was to make more Americans aware of the band. And more Americans should be made aware of Bryan Ferry's work in Roxy Music, which early on was created in conjunction with famed U2 producer and Talking Heads collaborator Brian Eno. Still, including little-known artists works to draw attention to those so deserving, here including Madison Park, whose jazzy, casual-disco sensibility makes “Same Old Scene” and “More Than This” two clear standouts. And because the idea for the compilation came from the members of Madison Park, who also own the Basic Lux label, it's clear that another unstated goal was to raise that band's profile....

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Depeche Mode Singles: 81-85

Roxy Remodeled

Hotel Costes: Vol 7

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