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Heavenly was all but founded on the art of the remix; the label’s sadly departed friend Andrew Weatherall remixed the first ever release, and the label has built up an immense catalogue in the intervening years that demonstrates all that is good about the art form and on Friday 10th December 2021 the label release Heavenly Remixes Vol 1 & 2, a brace of albums documenting this long history.
A label forged in the white-hot heat of post-acid house Britain, these Heavenly remixes are perfectly weighted with respect and irreverence, the remixer in each case carefully chosen to add heft to the song - the tracks across the 2 albums are curated, remixed and delivered with love (and a teensy bit of impertinence) and are a glimpse into the catalogue of one the UK’s finest independent labels.
There may well be no rhyme, nor reason, to how these compilations have been put together, beyond the fact that they are assembled with love, an innate understanding of the power of great pop music, and a skilled marriage of song and remixer.
There is no sense of order to Volume 1. You’ll find a smattering of older tracks: album openers Saint Etienne are taken on a Poseidon Adventure with Underworld, who inject ‘Cool Kids of Death’ with typically manic energy. Elsewhere, ’90s Brum duo Mother add dancefloor pzazz to Espiritu’s innate glamour on an all-funked-up reworking of ‘Los Americanos’, and Mark Lusardi’s remix of Moonflowers’ ‘Get Higher’ is an early Heavenly classic.
On ‘Terracotta Warrior’, a perfect, psyched-out, Mancunian union is created betwixt Jimi Goodwin and Andy Votel, whilst Goodwin cohort Simon Aldred, in his Cherry Ghost guise, receives a proper Tamla-Motowning from Richard Norris (aka Time & Space Machine) on an inspired cover of Cece Peniston’s glam-house hit, ‘Finally’.
There are several of Heavenly’s current darlings there too. One of the most exciting young British prospects, Yorkshire’s Working Men’s Club, effectively remix themselves, as Minsky Rock — WMC’s Syd Minsky-Sargeant and producer Ross Orton — cleave ‘X’ into a riotous industrial racket. Jagwar Ma’s Jono Ma takes the Kraftwerkian leitmotif on ‘Automatic’ and drives the Australian jazz-funkers Mildlife down an electro-convulsive psychedelic tunnel (thankfully no-one was harmed during the making of this remix); Sheffield’s DJ Parrot and Jarvis Cocker deliver one of the outstanding remixes of 2018, turning Baxter Dury’s ‘Miami’ into a lovelorn minor opera; and, making its first appearance on vinyl, David Holmes’ Unloved project is taken on a panoramic Welsh waltz thanks to Gwenno.
Though not purposely themed, beyond being judiciously chosen as the catalogue’s finest gems, there’s a tiny hint of psychedelia about Volume 2 that is hard to ignore. Firstly, there are the acid contributions from Gabe Gurnsey, who knows his way around a coruscating bassline, and from Graham Massey, whose impeccable credentials in 808 State are brought to bear on ‘Valleys’, by young turks Working Men’s Club (acid house being modern psychedelia, whether the rock press approves or not).
Jono Ma, meanwhile, flips Night Beats’ amazing ‘Sunday Mourning’ into ‘Warm Leatherette’ on benzos, creating a disorienting glimpse of a dystopian Sunday that most definitely doesn’t include a genteel read of the papers and a nice cup of tea. On the other side of the miasma is Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve’s redemptive re-interpretation of M. Craft’s ‘Chemical Trails’, which, alongside Boy Azooga’s ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’ (Mikey Young remix), Gwenno’s ‘Chwlydro’ (R. Seiliog remix) and and Katy J. Pearson’s ‘Take Back The Radio’ (Flying Mojito Bros Refrito Dub), is issued on vinyl for the very first time
1. Saint Etienne – Cool Kids Of Death (Underworld Mix)
2. Unloved – Why Not (Gwenno Remix)
3. Nots – Reactor (Mikey Remix)
4. Mildlife – Automatic (Jono Ma Ascend Mix)
5. Espiritu – Los Americanos (Mother Mix)
6. Confidence Man – Out The Window (Greg & Che Wilson Mix)
7. Mattiel – Guns Of Brixton (Rub-A-Dub Style Pt.2)
8. Baxter Dury – Miami (Parrot And Cocker Too Remix)
9. Jimi Goodwin – Terracotta Warrior (Andy Votel’s Spazio 1975 De-mix)
10. Working Mens Club – X (Minsky Rock Remix)
11. Moonflowers – Get Higher (Get Dubber Mix)
12. Raf Rundell – Monsterpiece (Harvey Sutherland Remix)
13. Cherry Ghost – Finally (Time & Space Machine Edit)