Released on September 14, 2009 is DJ Spankox's follow-up to last year's love it or hate it remix album “Re:Versions.” The original made quite a buzz in the Elvis world, with some fans (including Mike Stoller, who penned two songs from this new release as well) enjoying the remixes, and others disgusted at the prospect of the album. Regardless, as an active member of the Elvis community, Spankox has taken the criticism constructively, and released a new album of dance mixes for the fans.
I just received my copy of the CD today and I must say I am rather impressed by the work that looks like went into designing this. It's very simplistic, yet stylish. I thought the first remix album's cover was a little overblown, but this CD's cover merely states Elvis's name, and the title of the album, along with a description of the VinylDisc.
The packaging is a cardboard slipcase, which is definitely more eco-friendly than plastic packaging. The fold in the slipcase that separates the booklet from the disc has four pictures of Elvis, all of which perfectly show his rebellious nature, including one with a beautiful woman.
The backside lists the tracks for both the vinyl side (just the single, One Sided Love Affair, and the CD, and the font is okay to read, but one thing that bugged me on both the previous album and this one is that on an album where it's already been established that each song is a remix of an original, is it really necessary to put “(Spankox Re:Mix – Highpass Radio Edit)” after EVERY single track?
To me, it just seems like it's redundant, and a waste of space, and obviously, Highpass produced all but two of the songs, but with that notation at the bottom and in the credits, I just don't feel each track needs that specification.
The booklet inside alternates between pictures of Elvis, both in color and black and white, and Spankox's equipment and related in-studio Elvis stuff. There are quotes by Elvis over a picture every couple of pages or so. One interesting in-studio picture has Elvis's famous guitar, with Elvis's name on the neck, in front of two stacks of CD's. One stack has a copy of President Obama's “Hope” poster lying atop it, and the top CD on the other stack is the soundtrack from the movie “Grease.” It's very intriguing and a good peek at what Spankox is into. Also, there is a picture of a dual-language note given to Spankox by Mike Stoller, commenting that he liked the “Jailhouse Rock” remix from the last album.
The CD itself looks wonderful, with art to make it look just like another vinyl record. There was definitely a lot of effort put into this. The whole presentation looks great.
If a CD review was a meal, the packaging was the appetizer, and the songs are the main course, served up extra hot. When the last CD came out, a lot of fans were as shocked as I was. Not only did it cover the majority of Elvis's biggest hits from the 50's, it also included some SUN recordings, which are practically the Holy Grails of the Elvis world. Honestly, though, I was curious to see how he could pull off remixing songs like You're A Heartbreaker and Just Because. To be totally frank, I never thought of those two as great songs. They always seemed more like outtakes, just records of Elvis' evolution, not even close to on the same level as something like Mystery Train or Good Rockin' Tonight. So it was refreshing to hear those two redone. With this one, I had the same curiosity when I found out there were going to be songs from “Love Me Tender,” and “King Creole.” Well, thankfully, they are wonderful updates. Here's an in-depth track-by-track review of the songs.
- One Sided Love Affair – This one is supposed to be for this album what Baby Let's Play House was for the first, in that Spankox tried a lot harder than just adding a backbeat to the song. The riff that he came up with is catchy, but the track really just sounds like he's trying to make a cross between the remixes of A Little Less Conversation and Baby Let's Play House. The song never seems to reach that level of making you want to get up and dance like said previous singles.
- A Fool Such As I – This one is pretty standard fare, with simple backbeats placed over the track, and a few effects added to spice it up. As this song was recorded at a fairly calm place, it's never been a dance song, even for sock hops. A Fool Such As I seems like it would be better as something you'd hear on the radio. Certainly not smash-hit material, but not terrible either.
- Hound Dog – This is the one Re:Mix that I thought ought to have been on Re:Versions, along with Blue Suede Shoes (which is still missing from this album!!!) so I was interested to hear how Spankox would handle Elvis's biggest hit. The tempo has been slowed by just a tad, and it has a good beat, but somewhere in the mix, the bite that the original had gets lost. The sharp edges of DJ's drumming are lost in the beats, and Scotty's guitar solo, which was frantic in its delivery, is now relegated to the background. Not truly impressed with this one, especially after the potential he had showed in songs from Re:Versions, like All Shook Up and Baby Let's Play House.
- Let Me – The first remix from the “Love Me Tender” album, Let Me more than makes up for the previous three lackluster tracks. From the moment it starts, it jumps out at you and really does make you want to “dance with the girl (you) love.” There is a counter-melody in the background that, in combination with the drum beats, really give Let Me a disco feeling, and it gets into a wonderful groove. You can actually hear Spankox playing a little more with track because this is one of the few 50's tracks to which there was a clean vocal track to toy with, though he does still sample the harmonica from the original track. Too bad this isn't the 70's, because this totally belongs in a discotheque.
- Lover Doll – Lover Doll is actually my favorite 50's Elvis song, and it is updated masterfully, with a horn section kicking in at just the right moments. I usually don't like it when remixed songs use a phaser, but it works to great effect in this song. And when the song slows down, Spankox totally cuts back from all effects and respectfully lets Elvis and the Jordanaires handle it on their own.
- A Big Hunk O' Love – This song, even in its original form, just screams for a crazy drum treatment. Spankox keeps the drums fairly conservative, but I have to say that this track has an air of urgency that a lot of other tracks on this album is missing. However, like Hound Dog, the guitar solo is lost again.
- Paralyzed – This track is another basic remix, with a few effects here and there with a drum loop throughout. Nothing too spectacular, and I think the space used for this track would have been better used for Blue Suede Shoes than Paralyzed.
- King Creole – The song starts out with a digitized blues guitar solo, and the opening of the song is fairly similar to the calm opening of the original, but when it hits that line “Goes by the name of King Creole,” the song takes off like a bat out of h*ll at a much faster pace than it was recorded. Unlike previous songs on this CD, the guitar solo, at a faster pace, sticks out and makes the song really sharpen up. As the track goes on, it seems to get faster and fa