7/27/16

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

Welcome back! If you're just joining us, part one of this post, counting down the first ten of My Twenty Favorite Twelve-Inch Singles from 1984, was just posted yesterday if you want to go read it. For the rest of you, here's the Top 10:
10 "Lovergirl" (Special 12" Dance Mix)
Teena Marie tears it up on this track, her biggest hit here in the States. The sexy vocals and the in your face bass courtesy of Nathan East combine for a perfect storm on the dance floor or just dancing in front of your standing desk while you're typing up a list of your favorite twelve-inch singles from thirty-two years ago. Though it is more than a minute longer than the album cut, the 5:53 Special 12" Dance Mix still feels a little brief don't you think?
09 "Dancing In The Sheets" (Extended 12" Remix)
Shalamar's "Dancing In The Sheets" was the fourth of seven singles spun off the Footloose soundtrack album. It is one of two singles from the album to also have been released as twelve-inch singles here in the US, though a third single was released outside of the American market. All three feature remixes by John "Jellybean" Benitez and when the 15th Anniversary of the soundtrack was released in 1998, four additional tracks were added to the original nine, including his 6:17 Extended 12" Remix of "Dancing In The Sheets". Listening to the track delivers a high-energy buzz once those synths kick in and though it sounds more than a little dated with its drum machines, Howard Hewitt's vocals are sweet music to my ears. I've heard this one played at weddings and parties with women of a certain age flocking to the dance floor - it is a beautiful sight to behold.
08 "Dance Hall Days" b/w "Don't Let Go" (Remixes)
Another magnificent double-sided favorite of mine from 1984 is Wang Chung's "Dance Hall Days" b/w "Don't Let Go", which toppled the most excellent "Land Of Hunger" by The Earons from atop the Dance Club chart for the week ending June 2, 1984. Victor Flores is credited with Edits on the 7:22 Remix of "Dance Halls Days" while John Luongo gets credit for remixing the 7:12 Remix of "Don't Let Go" on Side 2 of the Maxi-Single, a term Warner Brothers and their associated labels used for their 45RPM twelve-inch singles. The vibe throughout "Dance Hall Days" brings to mind both Little River Band's "Reminiscing" and "Come Dancing" by The Kinks but "Don't Let Go" is my favorite mix on the disc. It is worth noting that there is a slightly longer (8:02 vs 7:22) mix of "Dance Hall Days" that was issued outside of the American market. This Victor Flores remix is not to be confused with the 1982 Dance Mix by Tim Friese-Green, the Go-Go Mix found on a few Eighties anthologies out of the UK or the ill-advised 1997 Revisited mixes to promote Everybody Wang Chung Tonight: Wang Chung’s Greatest Hits.
07 "Flesh For Fantasy" (Below The Belt Mix)
Though I enjoy several of Billy Idol's mid-Eighties remixes (he lost me with the live "Mony Mony" track in 1987), former Art Of Noise member Gary Langan's reworking of "Flesh For Fantasy" is a crunchy disco-rock track with stammering vocal edits and stuttering guitar stabs. Though Langan would later perfect the formula on the pulsating Mother Of Mercy Mix of the good-time gospel recasting of William Bell's seminal soul mea culpa "I Forgot To Be Your Lover" as "To Be A Lover" in 1986, it is on the 7:00 Below The Belt Mix of Flesh For Fantasy from 1984 that he lays the foundation by combining the choppy edits from Art Of Noise with Idol's metallic pop punk featuring the guitar riffery of Steve Stevens. Again, I cannot vouch for this mix's ability to pack (or clear) a dance floor but for loud listening it's great.
06 "The Reflex" (The Dance Mix)
Duran Duran makes their second appearance on the countdown with the delightfully nonsensical and doggedly inquisitive ("why-yi-yiyi-yi-yi") 6:35 Dance Mix of "The Reflex" which was everyone's favorite song at one time or another in 1984. The original album track just seems to lie there compared to Nile Rodgers chart-conquering lively remix with its galloping fade-in and stuttering intro ("fl-fl-fl-flex"). My absolute favorite parts of the remix are the extended "why-yi-yiyi-yi" and "wha-wha-wha-wha" passages at 1:25 and the drums as ex!cla!ma!tion! points at 5:15 though I feel they stand out better on the vinyl single. In the first draft of this countdown, this twelve-inch was slotted at number 2 which is a fair assessment most days but today I found four other extended singles I happen to like better. Perhaps the inclusion of "The Wild Boys" back at number 17 split the Duran Duran party's delegates but it should be noted that the group is the sole act with two twelve-inch singles on the countdown.
05 "Rock Box" (Vocal Dub Version)
Side One of this Run-DMC twelve-inch single is merely the 5:28 album version with credit for the mix going to DJ Starchild but over on the flip side is a 6:00 Vocal Dub Version that features a mix with Eddie Martinez's guitar nearly all but stripped out until the last minute and an entire verse at 3:00 that is absent from the album version. This mix was later dubbed the B-Boy Mix and included as a compact disc bonus track in 2005. The second cut on the single's flip side is a 7:00 Dub Version. Though I miss the screaming guitar in the Vocal Dub Version, the drum machine steps up - the beats hit harder - with Daryl and Joe's raps flowing authoritatively and definitively above it all.
04 "I Feel For You" (Remix)
Though Prince originally wrote "I Feel For You" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover" for Patrice Rushen, he ended up releasing both on his self-titled second album in 1979. The Pointer Sisters did a faithful cover version of the song on their 1982 album So Excited! Then came Chaka Khan's version of the song, the title track from her 1984 album. Producer Arif Mardin and multi-instrumentalist Reggie Griffin gave the track's arrangement an overhaul using musicians from Average White Band, Maxus, and The System as well as rapper Melle Mel and living legend Stevie Wonder to give the song an updated and effervescent live feel. The 45 edit and album version both begin with Melle Mel's "Ch-ch-ch-ch-Chaka Khan" rap before giving way to Wonder's harmonica and then Chaka's intoxicating vocals. The 7:12 Remix with edits credited to Arif Mardin begins with the groove for 20 seconds before the rap and then repeated use of Chaka singing the song's title before Wonder's part comes in. Wonder is also sampled from his recorded live first hit "Fingertips" which only adds to the track's vibrancy.
03 "Relax" (New York Mix)
This song bombed Stateside upon its release in late 1983/early 1984 though it was later re-released and went Top 10 in 1985. I liked the sound of the single a lot though I cannot recall where I first heard it and when I saw the pictured checkered generic-sleeved twelve-inch single in the bin, I bought it immediately. Then I unwittingly bought the same exact single again a few weeks later, seduced by the illustrated sleeve pictured above and failed to read the copy on the back where it states quite clearly under Chapter Three what the tracklisting is. The 7:20 Long Version aka U.S. Version or New York Mix was the first of dozens of remixes I have heard of the song and it remains my favorite from the throbbing synth through the pounding drum machines and finally through the climatic rush at 3:46 and again at 4:12 before the vocals actually come in. Trevor Horn gets all the credit here - "Relax" is a masterpiece. It sounds massive - positively huge - and seems to last longer than its actual runtime. It builds, backs off, builds again, eases back and then explodes all over your ears, coming in relentless waves of perfect sound. You're welcome.
02 "Miss Me Blind / It's A Miracle" (Extended Dance Remix)
Culture Club's first two albums are solid gold in my book, each filled with great music and Boy George's terrific voice. This twelve-inch was probably a blind purchase like most of my purchases back then but it turned out to be an absolute winner. Insanely rhythmic with a guitar sound and solo around the 7:00 mark that wins me over again and again. More so than any other of the other nineteen mixes on this list, the 9:08 Extended Dance Remix by producer Steve Levine that joins "Miss Me Blind" and "It's A Miracle" is something I will pull up and listen to two or three times in a row. It just makes me happy.
01 "Let's Go Crazy" (Special Dance Mix)
b/w "Erotic City"
("make love not war Erotic City come alive")
So "When Doves Cry" failed to make the list, big frickin' deal. That twelve-inch Maxi Single contained the album version of the song rather than a remix and the B-Side was exactly the same length as the 45. All in all, it was rather disappointing compared to the twelve-inch singles that would follow, singles like "Let's Go Crazy" which first charted with impeccable timing - "When Doves Cry" was atop the Hot 100 for it's fifth and final week at the beginning of August. I recently had the honor of sharing my "Let's Go Crazy" story over on my friend DJ Richie P's Fun With Vinyl site during his annual Paisley June event so head over there to check it out. Here's the final paragraph from that write-up:
Like many of you, I’ve purchased hundreds of twelve inch singles through the years and coveted many more but it is my humble opinion that the 1984 release of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” (Special Dance Mix) b/w “Erotic City” is among the three best, if not the very best, twelve inch single ever released. It has most definitely helped me and countless others get through this thing called life.
titleartistDancePop
10Lovergirl (Special 12" Dance Mix)Teena Marie64
9Dancing In The Sheets (Special Version)Shalamar917
8Dance Hall Days (Remix) b/w Don't Let Go (Remix)Wang Chung138 / 16
7Flesh For Fantasy (Below The Belt Mix)Billy Idol2129
6The Reflex (The Dance Mix)Duran Duran151
5Rock Box (Vocal Dub Version)Run-DMC26-
4I Feel For You (Remix)Chaka Khan13
3Relax (New York Mix)Frankie Goes To Hollywood2010
2Miss Me Blind / It's A Miracle (Extended Dance Remix)Culture Club105 / 13
1Let's Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix) b/w Erotic CityPrince & the Revolution11

1 comment:

  1. Without regard to mix variations, these are Dirk's 20 Favorite 12" Singles/Dance Tracks Of 1984...

    20) Go Insane - Lindsey Buckingham
    19) I Didn't Mean To Turn You On - Cherrelle
    18) White Horse - Laid Back
    17) Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - Wham!
    16) Gold - Spandau Ballet
    15) I Feel For You - Chaka Khan
    14) Holiday - Madonna
    13) Give It Up - KC
    12) It's My Life - Talk Talk
    11) They Only Come Out At Night - Peter Brown

    10) Let The Music Play - Shannon
    09) The Reflex - Duran Duran
    08) I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman
    07) The Glamorous Life - Sheila E.
    06) Erotic City - Prince and The Revolution
    05) Tell Me I'm Not Dreamin' (Too Good To Be True) - Jermaine Jackson & Michael Jackson
    04) I'm So Excited - Pointer Sisters
    03) Together In Electric Dreams - Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder
    02) Borderline - Madonna
    01) Breakin'...There's No Stopping Us - Ollie & Jerry

    Were I judging these songs from a "Favorite Songs Of '84" perspective, Dirk's list would look completely different... So there ya' have it!

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