The Opiates – Hollywood Cuts: The Remixes Review

Posted April 20, 2012 in

There’s always something to be said of a great remix and what it can do to transform a song—from reverent ballad to tits-out club stomper—and how it can revitalize or even reinvent a release. One of my favorite albums of last year was easily Hollywood Under the Knife, released under dance diva extraordinaire Billie Ray Martin’s great Opiates moniker. The album already had a truly amazing remix piece released in conjunction with it, so I was excited by the notion of a new full-length remix album, but didn’t expect to be so blown away by it. Like so many of Martin’s releases in the digital age, this remix album practically overflows with great dance music: there is a literally a little something for everyone. For collectors (and the uninitiated), a special condensed CD version was recently released as an import package with the original album and highlights the best mixes, all the while maintaining its variety.

Three of these remixes (by Kim Ann Foxman, Xtra Hype Krew and the always-fantastic Chris and Cosey) were already released on last year’s excellent Rainy Days and Remixes EP, but a whopping 17 of these mixes are brand new! Eight of the Hollywood album tracks get a re-touching. Some are only remixed once—“Rainy Days and Saturdays” by LovElution & the Unknown Stuntman, who infuse their downtempo take with sound bites, and Aerea Negrot’s gorgeous realization of “Dinah And The Beautiful Blue”—while the evergreen “Candy Coated Crime” is remixed a whopping eight times. It is hard to pick a favorite from the varied takes of the track by Doorly, Dan Beaumont and Terranova, but Disco Bloodbath’s is hard to beat, as it is the most interesting as far as style and current sounds go.

The smooth jams of the Drop Out Orchestra’s version of “Reality TV” belie the original cut’s heavy lyrical punch, but it still has great swagger. The delight of Kim Ann Foxman’s earlier remix of “Jalousies and Jealousies” was its uniqueness and fortunately the new mix by Flying White Dots manages to retain that quality while amping up more of the lyrical content. That is something shared by the best versions here: the more of Martin’s glorious vocals included, the better realized the remix. All the “dub” versions seem to have capitalized on this fact, which is why they stand apart from their companion remix. The more experimental Spinello mix of “Anatomy Of A Plastic Girl” sets a nice tone as the opener, and when the previously released Chris and Cosey version arrives about half way through, it is like a pleasant surprise visit from an old friend.

The most interesting and beautiful track to get the remix treatment, hands down, is all-time favorite “I’m Not Simone Choule,” here taken to new heights first by Glyph’s dubbier rub, and then stunningly re-invented/imagined in a Japanese-flavored setting by Young Richard and Hanatemari. Their two takes are by no means meant for club consumption, but they get high marks for retaining both the original track’s atmosphere and delicacy. By placing new and creative instrumentation around that very atmosphere they have created something uniquely special indeed that simply shouldn’t be missed. If you were only to download one track, this would be the recommended choice.
Hollywood Cuts is available digitally now from all good online retailers, with iTunes boasting an exclusive digital booklet.