7/25/16

My Twenty Favorite Twelve-Inch Singles from 1984 (part one)

PROLOGUE:

The other day I acquired a second-hand stereo receiver, the long lost missing piece of my hi-fi setup. So, the receiver needed a home, a place to call its own here at the Hideaway Archives and BBQ SoundLabs which is where I stand and write surrounded by my vinyl, compact disc, and digital audio collections. I am literally surrounded on three sides by the audio collections with the fourth wall taken up by books. In order to accommodate the receiver, I rearranged half the room. Overkill? Maybe. After an initial wiring stumble, I was enjoying my vinyl collection once again and soon settled in for the night with a large stack of twelve-inch singles from 1984, inspired to write this post and the next one as well. Prince's "When Doves Cry", the Maxi-Single pictured above, was number 3 on the year-end Billboard Dance/Disco charts in 1984 and it is not among my Twenty Favorite Twelve-Inch Singles from 1984.
20 "Too Much Blood" (Dance Version)
You don't need me to tell you that "Too Much Blood" is a weird song - one listen is all you need. The song is probably my third favorite track on the Undercover album after "She Was Hot" and the title track. While the twelve-inch single of "Undercover Of The Night" preceded the early November 1983 release of the album, it wasn't until over a year later in December 1984 that the twelve-inch for "Too Much Blood" appeared in the racks. Remixed by Arthur Baker with edits by the Latin Rascals (Tony Moran and Albert Cabrera), the already weird song suddenly became the most crazily compelling mix I had ever heard in its 12:33 Dance Version. So, so much is going on - Jagger's maniacal serial killer lines are chopped to an even more menacing effect, the drums are turned up to eleven and the rest of the instrumentation both original and new comes in and out of the track like a runaway train off the tracks circling back when you least expect it. It is a tour de freakin' force from the three mixers and while I cannot attest to its effectiveness on the dance floor, it is so much fun to listen to with the volume turned up. It came as no surprise to discover that "Too Much Blood" has never been performed live by the Stones.
19 "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
Remixed by Trevor Horn
Purchased shortly after "Too Much Blood", Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" is positively understated in comparison.  The A-Side of the Maxi-Single is credited as "Remixed by Trevor Horn" and it is my favorite version of the song. Is it the merging of the two songs on the B-Side or are they edits of the 6:16 Trevor Horn remix? Doesn't matter to this guy as it is nearly 100 degrees out in the middle of Summer and I am air drumming and singing along loudly.
18 "Blue Jean" (Extended Dance Mix)
When I first heard David Bowie's "Blue Jean" in 1984, I was not impressed. To me, it sounded like an unholy union of "Let's Dance" and "China Girl" from the Let's Dance album, a huge favorite of mine. Life happens and Bowie leaves us, spurring universal mourning and grieving and in my case listening to everything he ever recorded all over again. And you know what? I found songs I had completely missed the first time around and I even found songs I disliked initially were now appealing to me. The 5:16 Extended Dance Mix of "Blue Jean" by John "Jellybean" Benitez is one such song and now I'm jazzin' for Blue Jean - is that a bad thing?
17 "The Wild Boys"
(Wilder Than Wild Boys Extended Mix)
Around Thanksgiving 1984, the Friday night mix show we listened to at work played a new song by Duran Duran with drums that would have sounded positively thunderous had we not been listening to a radio with a single four-inch speaker. It took me a week or so but I located "The Wild Boys" (Wilder Than Wild Boys Extended Mix) on twelve-inch and dubbed it to cassette so I could drive around while those thunderous drums and that bass line shook My Bug to its rusty foundation. Nile Rodgers produced the track and it turns out that it was originally recorded as the 8:00 Wilder Than Wild Boys Extended Mix with the single version carved from it.
16 "Deeper And Deeper" (Long Version)
Streets Of Fire is my second most favorite film behind Citizen Kane and the soundtrack album is one of my most listened to albums ever. Standing above and apart from it is the song played over the ending credits, a non-album B-Side from The Fixx called "Deeper and Deeper" all metallic and mechanical on the big screen and I'm intrigued. Took some digging but I eventually found the promo only MCAOR Streets Of Fire soundtrack sampler with the 6:30 Long Version maybe a year later. Like "The Wild Boys" above, this is the original recording of the track with the B-Side and soundtrack cut being edited down from it.
15 "Hyperactive!" (Heavy Breather Subversion)
Thomas Dolby's "Hyperactive!" (Heavy Breather Subversion) is gleefully unhinged from start to finish, like the original track gone off its misdiagnosed meds. According to Dolby, he wrote the song for Michael Jackson but decided to record it himself only after getting no response to his demo from the Jackson camp. Musically inventive, creatively engaging and endlessly rhythmic, "Hyperactive!" brightens the day whenever it comes on.
14 "Borderline" b/w "Lucky Star" (New Mix)
My love for Madonna's eponymous first album is on the record somewhere and a prime reason for that love is the one-two punch of "Lucky Star" and "Borderline" that open the album. With the order flipped, the "Borderline" b/w "Lucky Star" Maxi-Single is a favorite with both songs featured in New Mixes from John "Jellybean" Benitez. While neither song captures the joyous spirit of "Holiday", both songs are musically interesting and I like the sound of Madonna's voice, especially her performance on "Borderline". Twelve-inch singles with great mixes on both sides are a rare treat and this one rewards repeated listenings with subtle enhancements in the mixes. These are my preferred versions of both "Lucky Star" and "Borderline" and this is how I listen to the Madonna album.
13 "Hello Again" (Remix Version / Vocal)
No one expected The Cars to release a dance remix but their song "Hello Again" featured remix-like elements in its "Mutt" Lange produced album version so it wasn't that much of a stretch for Arthur Baker, The Latin Rascals and Andy Wallace to have a go at the track. The twelve-inch single gives us a 5:54 Remix Version / Vocal on one side and a 6:02 Dub version on the other side and both are wacky, distracting and a workout for any stereo system. The remixers play off the band's name by including honking horns and the synthesized sound of car crashes throughout their mix.
12 "You Can't Get What You Want
(Till You Know What You Want"
(Specially Remixed Version)
On the album Body and Soul, Joe Jackson's "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)" comes in at just under five minutes. On the 6:25 Specially Remixed Verison courtesy of "Jellybean" Benitez, the song seems to stretch out naturally without the need of herky-jerky edits. The remix keeps the track appropriate for both the dance floor and adult contemporary radio where the original song had its biggest impact, charting at number 13. Though listed as a 4:55 Dub Version, the B-Side of the twelve-inch sounds like an instrumental version of the album cut.
11 "Run From The Shot" (Dub Mix)
Face To Face actually had a couple of decent singles in 1984 and it may have helped that Arthur Baker produced their original album tracks but the "Under The Gun" twelve-inch most definitely bears Baker's trademark electro street sound on the 7:01 Dance Mix which is credited to him, Chris Lord-Alge and those Latin Rascals. Singer Laurie Sargent definitely lacks Debbie Harry's flow as a white-girl rapper which is probably why I actually prefer the 8:38 dub version of the track on the FACE 2 side which is titled "Run From The Shot" (Dub Mix) - her vocals are minimized. It is a harder hitting track and I featured it on more than a couple mixtapes in 1984 and 1985.

titleartistDancePop
20Too Much Blood (Dance Version)Rolling Stones44-
19Do They Know It's Christmas? (Remix)Band Aid-13
18Blue Jean (Extended Dance Mix)David Bowie28
17The Wild Boys (Wilder Than The Wild Boys Extended Mix)Duran Duran272
16Deeper And Deeper (Long Version)The Fixx47-
16Hyperactive! (Heavy Breather Subversion)Thomas Dolby3762
14Borderline (New Mix) b/w Lucky Star (New Mix)Madonna410 / 4
13Hello Again (Remix Version / Vocal)The Cars820
12You Can't Get What You Want (Specially Remixed Version)Joe Jackson1415
11Under The Gun (Dance Mix)Face To Face14-

1 comment:

  1. 1982-85 was the heyday of the 12" single (for me, at least) even though extended mixes later became a staple of CDs and the DJ white label singles have helped fuel the vinyl comeback. In addition to what you've presented here, there's more great examples at the following website: 12″ Vinyl JukeBox.

    While I had never heard any version of Too Much Blood or Under The Gun until today, you've got some true winners on this list. I'm particularly fond of numbers 13-16. As for 12" singles you mention that I've actually owned on vinyl, I'm oh-fer-10 on this round. I'm guessing that will change when some Nick Heyward singles make your top ten list tomorrow.

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