Adapt or Die: Ten Years of Remixes
Musicians whose fans pay close attention to the music must adapt in some way if they want to be relevant after two decades of making music. Jimmy Buffett can get away with rehashing the same damn song 50 times because his loyal legion of middle-aged Parrotheads are too drunk to realize each song sounds like “Margaritaville.”
Fans of the British duo Everything But The Girl demand more. And 23 years after vocalist Tracey Thorn and songwriter/producer Ben Watt met at Hull University in England, they still are creating music that is engaging, relevant and forward thinking.
A small caveat should be entered here. It has been six years since EBTG’s album Temperamental, a classic that firmly showed that they moved away from their light jazz acoustic roots to a style that embraced the club sounds of house, drum ‘n’ bass and trip-hop. Unfortunately, the latest EBTG release, Adapt or Die, isn’t brand new material, but instead 14 strong remixes dating all the way back to 1990.
So Ben and Tracey haven’t been pushing forward with new music in the last six years. Ben has busied himself with his DJing career and a sublime new deep house label (Buzzin Fly). But as Adapt or Die shows, EBTG’s old music still can be stretched in new and amazing directions.
Four of the remixes on Adapt or Die are brand new. The other 10 include some of the more difficult EBTG remixes to find unless you rabidly collect 12″singles. Having all of the old remixes in one place plus the addition of some of the new remixes, make this album worth owning.
King Britt’s new, chopped-up bubbly remix of “Rollercoaster”should impress the fans of broken-beat and intelligent hip-hop. The best remix on the whole album is Jazzy Jeff’s brand new remix of “Mirrorball.”While the original sound has the aura of a sweet ballad, Jeff strips it down to the vocal and adds spacey effects and an infectious throbbing bassline. It is at once intelligent, soulful and crosses genres-which also could sum up why EBTG is so revered by so many.
Highlights of the old remixes include Knee Deep’s dancefloor stomping, Latin house remix of “Corcovado,”the extremely sparse remix Pull Timewarp remix of “Temperamental”and Fabio’s melodic drum ‘n’ bass remix of “Blame.”
And while there is not an awful remix on this album, there are definitely better remixes that could have gone on this album. The CL McSpadden remix of “Missing”sounds like a cheap knock off of the Todd Terry remix that gave EBTG their biggest hit. The Adam F remix of “Before Today”and the Todd Terry remix of “Wrong”both don’t stand up to the Dillinja remix of “Before Today”and Ben Watt’s own bootleg mix of “Wrong.”Substituting these other two mixes in would have made Adapt or Die a truly standout album.
As it stands now, Adapt or Die is a good album that is worth purchasing, especially if you do not own any EBTG remixes. And if you do own some, you owe it to yourself to get this album for the Jazzy Jeff remix alone.
With last year’s greatest hits album and this remix album, the only thing Everything But The Girl can do now is release new material. Here’s to hoping that they choose that form of adaptation instead of just letting their wonderful musical project die.