Music

Various Artists: Verve Remixed, Vol. 3

Pierre Hamilton

Three discs into the Verve Remixed series, jazz goes careening into the ghetto.


Various Artists

Verve Remixed, Vol. 3

Label: Verve
US Release Date: 2005-04-05
UK Release Date: 2005-04-11
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Okay, so no one who considers themselves even remotely contemporary gives a shit about jazz. No one except the fine people at Verve, who saw fit to dredge up this collection of long-forgotten jazz classics, pair them with today's hottest producers, and unleash the bastard remixes to the world. With the release of Verve Remixed, Vol. 3, the novelty of this jazz/electronic mash-up thing has worn out its welcome. What we get are 13 tracks that substitute jazz's highfalutin attitude with the more universal beats of electronica and hip-hop.

V3 isn't what you'd expect after the ambient, arguably more downtempo vibe of the first two instalments. Pry yourself from that past and you might find the album redeeming, if only in the way it veers away from its predecessors with confidence. These songs are even lesser known but the producers, all bona fide beat-junkies, are at the top of their game. But mash-ups live and die in the stitch job and here, the needle work draws too much attention.

Postal Service butcher Nine Simone's "Little Girl Blue" by wrapping Simone's hauntingly honey-flavored vocals in a blizzard of jarring blips and bleeps. It winds up being too cold and, although her voice refuses to be lost in the midst of this electronic slop, the experiment fails. More organic in its treatment, the Album Leaf's remix of Simone's "Lilac Wine" exceeds expectation. Hitching Simone's vocals to a subservient beat demonstrates a willingness to build around rather than on top of Simone's voice, which is how it should be done. Carl Craig's take on Hugh Masekela's "The Boy's Doin' It" is just plain bad. It drags on too long with a droning techno beat, choking out the Afro-jazz fusion.

Where V3 makes good is with the RJD2, Lyrics Born, and Danger Mouse remixes, which, for the first time in this series, send jazz careening into the ghetto. RJD2's grim rendition of Astrud Gilberto's "The Gentle Rain" is grandiose hip-hop instrumentalism at its best. The piano playing is angry, as if someone were stomping across the ebony and ivory keys, and Gilberto delivers her vocals all hot and heavy, but with a modest, almost naive sexuality. All of this gets draped in RJD2's dense soundscapes, alive and bristling with an emotional texture ripped from a thousand samples. Lyrics Born ups the ante on the Jimmy Smith freak out "Stay Loose". A rollicking, up-tempo ditty, it lashes out in every direction, spouting fluent jive and inciting boogaloo dance riots.

There was something about the first two Verve discs. Maybe it was how Felix da Housecat's remix of Simone's "Seeline Woman" made your life a little more exciting or how Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" was made even drearier. That's gone now, but what remains isn't all that bad, just different. Besides, when you reach the Danger Mouse remix of Dinah Washington's "My Baby, Did You Hear", you'll know that Verve did something right this time around. Beginning with a tumbling, unruly intro, it gathers steam before barreling headlong into tinny, synthesizer samples. DM owns this one, pulling up ever so slightly when Washington sings, though not enough for her to dominate, and adding layer upon layer of fuzz, pomp, and circumstance. If this is what we have to expect from the next instalment, bring on the sequel!

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.