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April 6th, 2010

Song Of The Day @ 09:00 pm

canadanne:
Come on now, where are all the SOTD enthusiasts hiding? I like seeing a mix of people writing them, it's better than just my own ramblings all the time! Surely someone must like the NLOTH tracks enough to write something about their virtues? Hell, you can even do a hatchet job on them if you prefer - anything to get a discussion going. :p

In the meantime I shall say a few words about one of my favourite remixes:

Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix)

Oh '90s U2, how many awesome remixes you gave us. They were so much better than most of the lame ones we get nowadays (Crazy Tonight being an obvious recent exception). This is one of the less dancey tracks, but I think it's lovely.


The Mysterious Ways single was released in November 1991, and came with four remixes as B-sides - the Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix, the Apollo 440 Magic Hour Remix, the Tabla Motown Remix, and the Solar Plexus Club Mix. The Solar Plexus mixes were done by Howard & Trevor Gray (from Apollo 440) with Steve Lillywhite, while the other two are credited to their group as a whole. Most of them aren't much longer than the original song (a little over 4 minutes), apart from the Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix, which is 7 minutes long and, IMHO, easily the best of the bunch.

Here it is for your listening pleasure:


To my ears, this does exactly what a remix ought to do. It's recognisably the same song, it preserves the whole essence and feel of the original, but gives it a slightly different atmosphere for a different mood. It's less funky and more laid-back, just drifting along in its sparkly mellifluous way. You might not dance to this version, but it'd probably be a really good soundtrack for doing yoga or something like that. In fact I've always mentally associated this remix with the annual Gym & Dance Competition at my old school, which everyone was allowed out of lessons to go and watch. The entrants had to choreograph a sequence of balances, jumps, rolls etc, set to their own choice of music. And whilst I never participated or had any friends who did, I always thought the extended Solar Plexus remix of Mysterious Ways would be *ideal* for accompanying such a routine - it was so frustrating that I never had the opportunity to make this vision a reality! (Who knows, maybe someone in this community has a similar thing at their school, and you can try it out for me. *g*)

So what's new or different in the remixed version? Well, the first thing you'll notice is the dramatic drum burst they've added in, right at the beginning and repeated every 10 seconds throughout much of the track. That's a nice touch, gives it a bit of a kick. Most of the original music still remains - the main guitar hook, the conga drums, Adam's catchy bassline from the chorus. The background synths are also more noticeable when everything else is stripped away instead of burying them. The remix includes the piano part that was used in concert but doesn't appear on the album. There's a new bubbling guitar solo at 1:19, and a whole bunch of added sounds between about 2:50 and 3:50 surrounding the bridge, including a pleasant sort of musical waterfall effect, a load of melodic blippy noises, and a jangly guitar section. (Edge's original solo is left out - I suppose the watered-down version fits better with the flow they were aiming for.)

Another obvious addition is a sample of Bono repeatedly going "Ah... Ah!... Ah... Ah!" over the intro and on several more occasions. Which is such a simple thing, but it sounds fabulous and gives the remix so much character. (I also wouldn't be at all surprised if it's included in that MP3 collection of 'Bono's suggestive noises', LOL! One of many classic Bonogasms over the years.) They dropped the verses altogether, so the vocal parts consist mainly of the chorus or excerpts thereof, and the middle eight. I like how it opens with just a couple of Alright's instead of jumping straight into the full chorus. It also uses the altered lyric that Bono sings in the live version ("She wants you / You don't know why / She sees the man inside the chiiiiild"), which is a welcome change, not that I dislike the original line.

You get to hear more of Bono on his own, which is a definite bonus - they removed the backing vocals from half of the chorus, including "Lift my days, light up my nights". Perhaps the very best part is that they isolated Bono's scatty improvisations toward the end of the song. That was always one of my favourite bits, it's so passionate and I love his Achtung Baby voice, but on the album it's somewhat lost in the mix because the backing singers are repeating the chorus at the same time. Here it's much easier to hear Bono's wonderful vocal (though not much easier to transcribe it, being rather more Bongolese than coherent English *g*).

The Extended Club Mix is the only track on the CD which made a positive impression on me - the rest never excited me much and I've barely listened to them. The Apollo 440 Magic Hour Remix and the Tabla Motown Remix both ditch the guitar entirely, which leaves them feeling rather slow and directionless. The former uses minimal instrumentation; it's mostly Bono singing over a mystical wall of synth, bells and bird calls. I can see what they were trying to achieve, but it doesn't quite work - I'm not sure if it's missing something, or it's too OTT, or the song isn't suitable for it, or it just isn't my cup of tea. The Tabla Motown Remix adds in a whole assortment of percussion and turns up the droning keyboard in the verses, which I think sounded better when it was hidden in the background. And the regular Solar Plexus Club Mix just sounds like a slightly tweaked version of the Achtung Baby track!

I'll go further and say that for me, this remix of Mysterious Ways stands head and shoulders above all the others I've heard. The Perfecto Mix certainly isn't bad, but makes no real attempt to improve upon the album version (and you'd expect a lot better, considering the excellent work they did with several other U2 songs). The Ultimatum Mix feels kinda wrong, they changed the music and it's too detached from the vocals, just plodding along repetitively all the way through. And the Massive Attack Remix is equally bland and pointless, all the magic's been stripped out of it. (I've never heard the even longer Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix from the vinyl / cassette release - does anyone have that to share?)

Of course, nothing will ever beat the live version from ZooTV. :)


LYRICS

Ah... Ah... Ah... Ah... (x 12)

Alright

Alright
She moves in mysterious ways, ah-ah-ah

She wants you
You don't know why
She sees the man inside the... child, yeah

It's alright, it's alright, it's alright

It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
She moves in mysterious ways, ah-ah-ah
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
She moves in mysterious ways, yeah
Love... ah-ah-ah
Lift my days, light up my nights... love

Ah...
Ah... Ah... Ah... Ah...
(x 12)

One day you'll look back
And you'll see
Where you were held
How by this love
While you could stand there
You can't move on this moment
Follow this feeling

She moves in mysterious ways, oh-oh-oh love
Ahh oh love... love, love
Ohh oh, hah
Oh, lover
Move ya...
Spirit move... make it lovely
Move... maybe love me
Move you, makin' love can
Lemme move with it
She moves with it
Lift my days, light up my nights... love

Ah... Ah... Ah... Ah...
(x 8)

She's slippy
You're sliding down
Will she be there
When you hit the ground
(Ah)

It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright
She moves in mysterious ways, ah-ah-ah

Ah... Ah... Ah... Ah...

She moves in mysterious ways, yeah

It's alright
She moves in mysterious ways, oh-oh-oh love
Ahh oh love... love, love
Ohh oh, hah
Oh, lover
Move ya...
Spirit move... make it lovely
Move... maybe love me
Move you, makin' love can
Lemme move with it
She moves with it
Lift my days, light up my nights... love



Any thoughts? Thumbs up, thumbs down, preference for another remix?
 
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Comments

 
[User Picture Icon]
From:reecord2
Date:April 7th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
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Oookayyyy, I've been meaning to get around to this forever, I would very much love to do some Songs of the Day! Is there any sort of protocol? Can I just post them? I would be more than happy to do a No Line series, seeing as I'm a sucker U2 fan and absolutely love the whole album.
[User Picture Icon]
From:canadanne
Date:April 7th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
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That'd be awesome. Nope, no protocol, just post whenever you want!
[User Picture Icon]
From:runaground
Date:April 7th, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
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This is a B+ remix, to me... pretty cool overall, and not one that I skip when it comes up, but it's not in my top tier. I'm tough on remixes! ;) I totally agree with your assessment of the rest of the MW remixes, though - most of them are average at best, and this one definitely stands out.

For me, the drum fill/blast throughout ruins it. As great as the rest of the track is in terms of sonic additions, I just can't get past that drum fill, sadly! It sounds dated and amateur and out of place, to my ears. A little bit "cheap-Casio-keyboard-esque", if that makes any sense.

The Perfecto Mix is my clear favorite when it comes to Mysterious Ways remixes, maybe *because* it doesn't stray too far from the album track. It has a great, smooth rhythm, a bit of flange applied to the guitar and drums... I can just crank the volume on it and be happy!

So this comes in as a close second.

I think I have the Solar Plexus Magic Hour Remix somewhere... if I find it I'll post it. :)

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