Music Labels Open Their Vaults To Remixing DJs

If the music industry can’t beat the desktop DJs who are slicing and dicing songs into new hybrid forms, they might as well join them.

Some of the world’s most venerable record labels, including Motown, Atlantic and Verve, are opening up the vaults in the hopes that a new generation of listeners will be attracted to remixed versions of classic tunes.

Amid an explosion in remix culture, spurred by technology that enables anyone with a computer to splice together music in new ways, a quartet of albums have been released this year: “Motown Remixed,” “Verve Remixed 3,” “Atlantiquity” and “Mayfield: Remixed – The Curtis Mayfield Collection.”

They take on classic — some would say unimprovable — soul, jazz and R&B songs including “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “We Are Family,” “Let’s Get It On” and “Superfly.”

Previous major-label efforts in a similar vein have included Jay-Z’s collaboration with Linkin Park, and several Blue Note remix albums. There will likely be more to come as music companies seek to extract maximum value from their libraries and to combat the unauthorized “mash-ups” that have become increasingly popular.

DJ Dangermouse’s “The Grey Album,” which mixed The Beatles’ “White Album” with rapper Jay-Z’s “Black Album,” is widely credited with bringing mashups to the forefront.

It was forced underground when EMI, the world’s third-largest music label, filed a slew of lawsuits, but not before Dangermouse and the “Grey Album” achieved worldwide fame.

EMI does not seem to be holding a grudge. DJ Dangermouse is a lead producer for the new album from animated rock band Gorillaz, one of the company’s most crucial releases of the year. He also turned in a track on “Verve Remixed 3,” a remix of Dinah Washington’s “Baby, Did You Hear?.”

The “Motown Remixed” album includes a version of The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” that is revamped by DJ Jazzy Jeff, and The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” which isgiven a heavy hip-hop breakbeat by DJ Z-Trip.

The “Mayfield: Remixed” and “Atlantiquity” albums were made by Warner Music Group’s Rhino Records. Motown and Verve are both part of Vivendi’s Universal Music Group.


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