Billie Holiday remixed, Whitney Houston, Brtitney Spears, Paris Hilton

by Doug Rule
Published on August 2, 2007, 12:00am | Comments

LADY DAY AIN'T MOMMA NIGHT... Billie Holiday has never been part of the diva dynasty that still holds court on gay dance floors. Even at her jauntiest, jazz's leading female vocalist never danced. And for the most part, today's dance makers haven't tried to get Lady Day to become Momma Night. One notable exception was the three-part Verve Remixed compilation series. The series was the perfect introduction to some jazz greats dance and electronica fans might not have encountered otherwise. The series focal point was Nina Simone, with good reason. An underappreciated singing-songwriting showstopper, Simone always had passion and drama to spare, no matter whether she was performing jazz or R&B or folk. Speed it up, add some beats behind it, and just like that, Simone works on the dance floor.

Holiday's quiet-storm music and languid lyrical phrasing, by contrast, is so subtle, even delicate, it's harder to manipulate. And so the remixes of Holiday's classics were some of the weakest of the Verve Remixed bunch. The latest in Legacy Recordings's new Remixed & Reimagined series suffers, too, since it's solely focused on Holiday. Though, truth be told, the problem seems to be as much with the crop of remixers on tap. Last fall, Legacy released Nina Simone: Remixed & Reimagined, featuring Simone songs from the RCA vaults. The set definitely had its moments, but it was nowhere near as great as you'd expect, given what Verve had done before. Why didn't Legacy tap any of the many Verve remixers, including Felix da Housecat, Carl Craig, Koop, Danger Mouse and DC's own Thievery Corporation? Half of the remixers on tap for Billie Holiday: Remixed & Reimagined, out next Tuesday, August 7, simply repeat from the Simone set. And as with that first edition, there are only a few tracks here that would actually work on the dance floor; the focus is far more on providing simple electronic embellishments, not on coaxing anyone to actually dance. Also in this case, the point seems to be to shine the light on some of Holiday's lesser-known tracks from her Columbia Records catalog.

Tony Humphries, the legendary New York house DJ in semi-retirement, does get us grooving though. His ''But Beautiful'' remix here is a pumping deep house treasure that deserves dance floor play. Also working our feet: Roland Richards and Lady Bug Mecca of Digable Planets with a high-stepping, ''hip hop meets swing'' remix of ''Spreadin' Rhythm Around,'' and Poppyseed with ''He Ain't Got Rhythm,'' which has rhythm to spare....


Billie Holiday: Remixed and Reimagined

Whitney Houston: Greatest Hits

Nina Simone: Remixed and Reimagined

WHITNEY'S WORK... By now you've no doubt heard that Whitney Houston is fixing to make a comeback. Several big-name producers have been mentioned as working with her on the effort, no small feat. The latest: Akon, the Senegalese crooning rapper. Billboard reports the two haven't hit the studio yet, but he's plenty busy scheming -- not to mention stating the obvious. ''I just think she needs to come with great songs. I think the music will overcome all the things she's been through,'' Akon told Billboard. Uh, well, duh. So get to work, Akon! Now that her marriage with Bobby Brown is all said and done, it's make or break time: Was ''Bob-BAY'' really the source of her problems, from drugs to finances? Or, as some have suggested, was he merely just her foil -- the blatantly bad boy who was no match for a bad girl who only appeared prim and proper before they met? No word on exactly how soon we'll find out, or when the album will drop....

BRITNEY'S JOKE... But wait, there's more -- and less! What we have here is what they taught in gay econ 101: the law of diminishing divas. Every subsequent female singer you encounter is less and less a ''diva'' -- at least in the sense of someone to get positively worked up over. So we'll surely get less and less product worthy of our ears. You hear the one about Britney Spears? No, it's not a joke that she's also hoping to revive her moribund career by putting out a new album in the near future. It is a joke, though, at least at this point, that her new album will be called Omg is Like Lindsay Lohan Like Okay Like. That was one potential title among five Spears actually asked members of her fan club to vote on, according to Rolling Stone. So presumably, if that wins out over Integrity or Dignity -- and in this case it really should -- then the joke will be on everyone. That is, unless her fans pick What If The Joke Is On You, then the joke is on...we're crying just thinking about all this. Why are we still talking about Britney?

Well, we're not done just yet. You remember her bashing a poor, helpless automobile with an umbrella a few months ago? Right before which she had shaved off all her hair? She recently posted a note to her Website claiming it was all just a gimmick, all just in preparation for an acting role. ''I take all my roles very seriously and got a little carried away. Unfortunately, I didn't get the part.'' Oh? The director must have thought she was too unbelievable....

PARIS'S RAT(ATOUILLE)... Hear the one about Paris Hilton? No, it's not a joke either -- and yes, I'm crying too. But Hilton is already back to work with producer Scott Storch on a follow-up album to last year's Paris. Rolling Stone quotes a ''source close to the heiress'' who insisted that Hilton is taking voice lessons: ''She's really serious about her music career.'' Boo-hoo-hoo....

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