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so80s presents ZTT / review

Exclusive: Blank & Jones "SoEighties presents ZTT" cover art revealed

Rob Puricelli reviews Blank & Jones’ ZTT remix album, for SDE.


THE VERY SECOND I SAW THE ARTICLE that announced that Blank & Jones were to attempt a complete album of ZTT remixes, my heart sank. Not because it was Blank & Jones, but because the ZTT canon is, to me (and likely a great many other people), sacrosanct. The songs and the artists are very dear to my heart as many of them formed the soundtrack of my formative years. And when – under different stewardship than the person currently at the helm of ZTT’s wonderful reissues of the past few years – the label put out a set of Frankie remixes in 1993 and again in 2000, I recall my horror at the way these precious stars in my musical firmament had been subjected to the “Boom-Tish” treatment, being dragged, kicking and screaming into a decade of bland and banal dance music, showing no respect for these jewels and the fact that they formed part of the very roots on which their dull, uninspired and unoriginal musical genre was formed.

So I think I can be forgiven for fearing the worst.

But, after thinking it through, I started to calm down, especially when I began to recall how much I had liked some of the other chapters in the so80s release portfolio. I remember hearing volume four and thinking that, actually, Blank & Jones had remixed the material with the utmost empathy for the originals. As news began to filter through, and statements from Herr Blank und Herr Jones stated that they were not going to use anything but the original source material (opting to shun any additional instrumentation) I began to actually get excited about this release. So much so that I pre-ordered it as soon as it became available on Amazon UK. In the intervening weeks, some nice YouTube videos emerged and then, a few weeks ago, they officially leaked a track, their reconstruction of the Frankie non-single Black Night White Light. As soon as I heard this, I was sold completely. It was abundantly clear that these guys were true fans of ZTT and its output. However, there was still room for disaster to strike. The album arrived on Monday and it went straight on.

And so, here are my thoughts, on a track-by-track basis, designed to build a case for either the prosecution or defence. Let’s see where this goes…


relax

Frankie Goes To Hollywood / Relax

I suppose, if you’re going to start with any track from the ZTT archive, it has to be this one. Opening with the sweeping pads, followed by the Hi-Energy stabs, Holly’s vocal comes in, then yields to the kick drum. It is immediately evident that Blank & Jones were revelling – as I would – in each individual aspect of the multi-tracks. Rather then the core of the song appearing in its recognisable seven-inch form, we get it stretched out, but with each part given room to breathe and work the space. Finally, the track deconstructs towards the end, back to those pads.


Second Hand News / Xmas 2013 - Frankie Rage Hard pop-up

Frankie Goes To Hollywood / Rage Hard

This is a playful mix, given that it got quite the workout back in the day, with various mixes on both seven-inch and twelve-inch, as well as being the first Frankie CD single. One of my favourites is the Young Person’s Guide to the Twelve-Inch mix featuring Pamela Stephenson. Blank & Jones obviously not only got Pamela’s vocal parts (alternate takes) but also Stephen Lipson‘s guidance too. Indeed, it is Stephen who, unwittingly and in a rather camp fashion, comes centre stage as B&J put together a worthy reconstruction that accentuates the superb bass and drum groove that runs throughout. And a giggling Pamela is pretty cute too!


tt

Frankie Goes To Hollywood / Two Tribes

I suppose this is the most sacrosanct of the bunch, really. Remixed to within an inch of its life back in 1984, this could well have been the proverbial banana skin for B&J. Using less common excerpts of Chris Barrie‘s superb Reagan impersonation and Patrick Allen‘s sombre public information announcements, the component parts of this complex piece of classic ’80s dance are again, wonderfully presented, and in some places, the bass line is exposed for what it really is; an amalgam of somewhere near six different performances, mainly on synths, one of which is by Steve Howe of prog behemoths Yes. That said, this is a worthy addition to the Two Tribes mix collection.


duel

Propaganda / Duel

And so to the first interlude from the Frankie-heavy start. Starting with some kind of engine firing up and stopping (not entirely sure of the source, or indeed the relevance), this delightful pop stalwart gets off in a familiar building style, layers being introduced and accentuated so that we can fully appreciate the depth of instrumentation and production. This mix weighs in at a wonderful 12 minutes and 19 seconds and really does show off the NED Synclavier that Trevor and Stephen had become incredibly fond of. Shunning the Fairlight in favour of this American synth/sampling/recording powerhouse, the clarity, precision and oomph of this machine underpins the whole album that this track came from. And of course, Claudia’s vocal on top is the final, most beautiful piece in the mix. Her tone and Teutonic pronunciation make for a cosmopolitan, intriguing song and I imagine B&J took great pride in reconstructing this song by their fellow German brothers and sisters.


frankiealbumFrankie Goes To Hollywood / San Jose

This track was something of a surprise inclusion, having never been a single and a little bit removed from the style of other songs on Frankie‘s debut long player. However, I was very interested to see how B&J had handled this. It opens with what seems like a cheesy outtake with (one presumes) Ped playing drums with brushes in a faux lounge band style, and expressing what seems to be their true opinion on the track, hence the ‘EXPLICIT’ suffix on the iTunes version of the album. But it soon kicks off into a familiar ‘construction by layers’ mix, exposing lush orchestrations and Holly sounding quite at home singing this Bacharach and David classic.


warriors

Frankie Goes To Hollywood / Warriors of the Wasteland

Stan Boardman, a British comic staple of the time (and fellow scouser), kicks things off, paraphrasing what Bill Shankly is supposed to have said about football: “Er, this isn’t a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that!” I wonder if B&J were aware of his classic, “I hate them Germans… they bombed our chippie!” routine!? So begins the rockiest of Frankie singles which gets great treatment but is sadly missing the superb guitar track supplied by the late, great Gary Moore which appears on the superb ‘Attack’ mix. That said, this is a stonking, high tempo 11 minutes.


mabuse

Propaganda / Dr. Mabuse 

It has often been said that had Propaganda followed this debut single up with the subsequent single and album a lot sooner, they may well have enjoyed far more success than they actually did. But the fledgling ZTT label, swept away in the furore that surrounded Frankie, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) afford their German label mates that much warranted attention. This track kicks off with the menacing vocals of Andreas Thein, followed by the sampled strings in all their glory, eventually growing into that train-like rhythm, which never fails to have me thinking of the gorgeous Mary Stuart Masterson from the opening scenes of the John Hughes movie, Some Kind of Wonderful.


loveFrankie Goes To Hollywood / The Power of Love

I said earlier that Two Tribes might be considered the most sacrosanct of Frankie songs. This might well be the next in line. Interestingly, in one of the YouTube previews for this album, B&J demonstrated how the final version of the original release had been sped up by 7 BPM via the varispeed process. Holly has explained that this decision was made to help shorten the running time, in part to help with radio play. I would’ve liked B&J to have tried working with the original speed, just for the hell of it, but it’s the familiar pitching that we’re given here.

Where this reconstruction really excels is with the exposure of Anne Dudley’s quite stunning string arrangements. Of all the Frankie tracks, this one has suffered the most from over-exposure to my ears. I don’t know why, but I got quiet tired of hearing this song back in the day. A symptom, maybe, of the fact this is classed by many as a Christmas song, simply because it was number one over the festive period in the UK, in 1984. However, now I can listen to it with renewed appreciation and this particular mix enhances that, mainly because it bows down at the church of Dudley and exalts her stupendous scoring abilities!


momentsArt of Noise / Moments in Love

And here we have the sole Art of Noise appearance on this album. This has upset many Art of Noise fans, and I can sympathise with that, but B&J were given just 13 songs, all of which feature on the album, and this was the only Art of Noise track. So, they could only work with what they were given. Moments in Love is a thing of beauty and prized amongst fans much like Two Tribes is. I’m sure our German hosts would’ve loved to have had a go at Beatbox or Close (To The Edit) but it is what it is.

I like what they’ve done here. It seems they’ve gone for the sonic collage ethos that defined Art of Noise at the time, using snippets of the Richard Skinner BBC Radio 1 sessions. It’s Fairlight to the fore here, artistic, intellectualism abound. It’s also the second shortest mix on the album. There are longer, more lush mixes of this track and there have also been some awful ones too. It’s an ambient stalwart and I get the impression that B&J, knowing that this was their only chance to work with such important and luminary material, tried to do a bit of everything with this, and by and large, they’ve succeeded.


frankiealbumFrankie Goes To Hollywood / Black Night White Light

And so to the second unexpected track on this album. Another …Pleasuredome album track, and one of the finer ones too. That famous, epic debut was so full of variety, ranging from classic covers, orgasmic and trippy sex anthems and dance-oriented floor fillers, but Black Night White Light was this moment of laid back excellence that glides through verses and choruses, and flits between rousing, almost rock inspired middle eights and dance-infused breaks. Layered into this are vocal segments from the Relax B-side, One September Monday, where Paul Morley interviews Holly Johnson. These add a little variation and are more than a nod to Trevor Horn’s penchant to add in snippets of spoken interest.


watchingFrankie Goes To Hollywood / Watching the Wildlife

This track, forever a dichotomy between cheery pop ditty and insightful social commentary gets a decent workout here. A drum heavy intro is overlaid with more Stan Boardman, reciting some (apparently Buddhist) spiritual words about how humans will work less due to automation, only for Stan to fumble his words and then make some witty remark about certain people in Liverpool being unable to find 20 hours of work a week (these words being said in 1986/7), let alone the future! It’s a typically scouse-drenched piece of humour and a fun way to start a fun tune that has ‘fun’ written in its DNA.


prop_albumPropaganda / A Dream Within a Dream

The third and final Propaganda track in this collection is the wonderful Edgar Allan Poe-inspired beauty that opens their debut album, with its haunting solo trumpet and relentless rhythm, as Susanne Freytag recites Poe’s poem atop an ever building wall of synth pads and a rhythmic pedal bass note. Can you tell I love this song? I’ve seen it performed live a few times and it always gets those hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end. In its original form, it’s a long track, and this 9 minute plus version lives up to those expectations. Full of PPG synth splendour, this is a stunning piece and well reconstructed here.


welcome45Frankie Goes To Hollywood / Welcome to the Pleasuredome

And so, the final track. This is my favourite Frankie track. It’s also the foundation for my favourite Frankie mix, the splendid ‘Fruitness’ twelve-inch version. This track is up there, for me, with Grace Jones‘ Slave To The Rhythm in terms of pop production perfection. Danceable, epic sounds, laid out on a massively expansive soundstage, created by the masterful production of Trevor Horn.

It sums up the whole Frankie phenomenon. Cutting, acerbic, viceral and yet full of grace, pomp and splendour. And Herr Blank und Herr Jones do it total justice. It’s sixteen minutes long. That’s a great sign because this production has enough content to fill those minutes perfectly. Funky bass, that ZTT trademark hi-hat pattern, a guitar solo by Steve Howe, majestic pianos, cutting guitar, tribal chanting, Holly’s rousing lead vocal and huge, chiming pads. Suffice to say, you’d be hard pushed to mess this up and this is a spectacular way to close out this project. Admirable work!



So, there you have it. I think the album is very good indeed. Yes, it has an unavoidable Frankie bias, but the empathy shown by B&J in all of the mixes towards the originals is very evident. This album takes all those awful ’90s and ’00s remixes, wraps them up in a diaper and puts the lot of them to bed! As I said to a friend recently, if someone had come up to me, without me having any prior knowledge of this project, and told me that 13 remixes had been discovered in the ZTT vault, previously unheard and made at the time of the originals, and then played me this album, I think I would’ve fallen for it hook, line and sinker. I believe that to be the highest compliment I can pay these guys and their hard work.

They’ve done a sterling job, and that includes the nice little liner notes and reconstructed art work for each single, which features words from Paul Morley, SDE’s very own Paul Sinclair and artwork supplied from the vast library owned by Kevin Foakes at artofztt.com. It has to be said that if I had been given access to this material, I almost certainly would’ve listened to each track, each element individually and then tried to share those gems as best I could. I once had access to a multitrack of Relax and whilst it wasn’t the full multitrack (I think it had been part of a video game soundtrack), it allowed me to mute out and solo various elements and it was a wondrous thing to be able to hear these layers in isolation. I guess Blank & Jones had the same emotions as I did!

spread2

so80s presents ZTT / 2CD packaging

One thing these reconstructions have done is allow me to re-appreciate the originals. Because of the way that B&J have opened out the mixes, exposing and revelling in the constituent parts, I have heard things I have never previously heard, or simply forgotten about, in the originals. So besides delivering something new, these reconstructions have made me appreciate the source material even more than I already did.

As a die hard fan. these may not be to your taste, but your taste has had 30 years to mature and become biased and influenced. Listen to these with fresh ears. Try and imagine you are back in 1984/5/6/7 and that you’ve been crate digging in your local record store and found a twelve-inch single, in a generic ZTT sleeve, with a vague centre label. Not knowing what’s on it, you buy it, rush home and listen to it, straight away, giddy with the excitement of finding a new interpretation of a classic favourite. Remember those days? I do, and this album helps me to remember, no end!

Word on the street is, if B&J can raise the funds, this lot could make an appearance in the form of a 6x 12″ box set. How amazing would it be to have these gems on heavyweight vinyl at 33rpm?? Imagine the artwork?? I’m salivating at the very thought, saving my pennies as we speak and will be first in the queue!

Thank you Piet, Jaspa and Andy (Kaufhold, who was part of the ‘Reconstruction’ team) for taking a very precarious job on, working with sacred material and doing it so spectacularly well. May the success of this lead to more ZTT reconstructions.


Review by Rob Puricelli. Check out Rob’s blog at www.failedmuso.com/blog

so80s presents ZTT is out now:

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54 responses to so80s presents ZTT / review

  1. DA says:

    It’s awful!Why have you not mentioned vocals missing the beat, pitch changes, bad edits etc?!

    • I haven’t mentioned those because I didn’t hear anything like that. What might be happening here is some creative decisions. Offsetting vocals is nothing new. It has been a common remixing practice for decades.

      But, maybe you could point out where you feel there are errors or examples of poor technique and maybe Piet might respond with a better explanation? :-)

  2. Dave Kaple says:

    Firstly, great read, a review that i was hoping for and some, totally stoked for mine to arrive (should be today, i live in Canada, getting cd fr uk), i was very excited for this as ive been on board with the so80’s from the get go and this was a chance to be a Super cool project and i was in-mind that no one better than Bn’J’s. I will have my own opinion and will give it…but by the above review by a TRUE fan i feel everything will be grand. I thank the above reviewer, Paul.S, Blank and Jones and this website Blog.
    For the hard work of this website, i feel in touch with my passion for the music i love again and again. Cheers!

  3. Tim says:

    Interesting review, though I’m not sure I’d call it measured, impartial and unbiased…and the reviews seem to linger on the original song rather than the new mixes. On first listening impression, these mixes seem on the whole to desconstruct and reconstruct their multiple elements, which whilst allowing the listener to hear constitiuent parts, doesnt seem to ADD much to the subsequent mixes…there’s no interesting reconstruction or juxtaposition, just…the obvious really! Interestingly there seems to be no mention of Blank & Jones pulling the vocal mixes much more to the fore in these new mixes than on the historical mixes, most noticeably in the case of Propaganda’s Duel. Whilst Blank and Jones have done an admirable job and havnt ‘raped’ the originals as per the 93′ and 2000 mixes, they havnt re-invested the proverbial wheel!

    • I felt it was important to mention the originals to serve the purpose of comparison. As for the review being “measured, impartial and unbiased”, I, and SDE, don’t hide the fact I’m a ZTT aficionado but I can assure you that if any of these tracks had not been to my personal liking, I would’ve said so :-)

      I could’ve dwelled on technical aspects of the mix but didn’t feel SDE was the right audience for that. I’ll certainly consider it in the future.

      I don’t think the goal here was to reinvent the wheel, merely to create something new and respectful. But I wouldn’t dare to speak on B&J’s behalf :-)

      What I’m seeing a lot of is some people saying they’ve hardly done anything to others saying they’ve done too much. That, to me, says a balance may well have been struck ;-)

  4. Griffin says:

    @Paul S./Piet (if you are reading this),

    I’ve got the CD! On the re-listen I notice Duel around 3:46~3:47 has a 1 sec drop-out! As the “effect” there was building up for a climax I wouldn’t expect a silent break there! Can someone confirm that? So I didn’t get a faulty one. I hope Piet can give some comment on that ;)

  5. Paul Sinclair says:

    I’d also like to add that there was no “requirement” for Rob to give a positive review to this collection, something that was explicitly pointed out to him beforehand. But he clearly really enjoyed it and the review obviously reflects that. If the appraisal had been less positive, it would still have been published. It’s very interesting to read what other people have to say about this set, so keep the comments coming!

  6. Simon says:

    Received the set at the beginning of last week, and it has completely won my over. I’m not clever enough to notice some of the problems other readers talk about quite often on this site, but I’m happy to lie back and enjoy the work on display. Thanks B&J.

  7. Boaz Halachmi says:

    6 x 12″? Which means one track will be left out? Why don’t add a 7th single, and use the b-side for… a b-side!

    • As I said, it’s just stuff I’ve heard, albeit from the horse’s mouth, or at the very least, the horse’s stable ;-)

      It would be perfectly feasible for them to put the ‘San Jose’ and ‘Moments in Love’ mixes on one side, therefore getting us in to the 6 disc limit. Don’t forget, more pressings = more cost and this thing will cost a pretty penny as it is!

  8. Boaz Halachmi says:

    LOL… I love the “Simon says:” above me… LOL.

  9. Boaz Halachmi says:

    Sorry for multi-posting, but ideas come after I click… an idea for the b-side of the 7th single can b “Studio Conversations”. As B&J got their hands on the recording conversations between the narrators and the producer, this track could act as a “behind-the-scenes” of the recording process with the different narrators. Just a thought. [I stop here :-)]

  10. AudioDile says:

    Having only heard the Art of Noise mix (which is half of the tracks I really even know on this collection) I can only comment on that.

    It was a decent mix, although heavily based on the “Beaten” version, and I REALLY do not like samples of people talking in remixes unless it’s very short. I know the Art of Noise did this more than most, but Moments is a beautiful song, why would you need to add new spoken commentary when there’s SO much else you could do to it?

    This still should have been a Frankie comp, save the Art of Noise for later when you can do more than one track. MHO.

    Momentary Grade: B-

  11. England says:

    I too was traumatised by the 93 & 2000 so was giving this a wide birth…
    but not now i’ve read this review (which is remeniscent of the reviews you used to get in the 60s/70s/early 80s where they told you what the records actually sounded like instead of nowadays where the review is usually about the reviewer and their prejudices), I really want to sit down and listen to it – so thank you for that!
    I’m not particulally interested in “measured, impartial or unbiased” reviews – i’d much rather read a review written with by someone with real enthusiasm for the music – in the same way that most comments on this site appear to reflect that readers would prefer reissues handled by people who really understand the music/artist involved and what collectors actually want rather than corporate cannibals.
    You may consider yourself a “failed Muso”, i’d go with “successful reviewer”.

    • Wow, many thanks for your kind words. It’s very much appreciated :-)

    • Tim H says:

      …in terms of a review being unbiased etc, if a reviewer cannot maintain some objectivity in what they are reviewing, they become like the majority of reviews left on sites like Amazon, left by people who are so biased in favour or against an artist/product that it colours the review in spite of the product. That’s why reviewers in publications may have a preferred genre of music to review, but don’t chose what albums they review…to give the reviewer a variety and palette of musical knowledge/experience to draw from, to the benefit of the review and reader.

  12. KM says:

    I’d like to start by saying I love B&J, and I’ve loved all the other so80’s collections. This one to me just seems odd. There’s so much Frankie that I feel like I’m listening to (yet another) Frankie remix CD, and then suddenly Propaganda or Art of Noise appears and screws up the continuity. Would have liked more input from other ZTT artists like Grace Jones and Act.

  13. Piet Blank says:

    “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen”…..well, as this whole project has been a labour of love here i am, reading all your comments….of course i’ve read them over the past months as well….i totally understand that some ztt lovers might have problems with the mixes, but as long as the criticism stays constructive i am happy to read all sides of the story….
    we deeply hope that this release might open the vaults to more multi parts, so we can try to do justice to the other fantastic ztt acts and songs….
    as 80s kid and collector it is of course our dream to realise a vinyl box, but again: this is all completely self financed…nobody paid us to work 4 months in the studio to do the mixes, nobody financed the cd pressings, the royalty payments, the promo etc….we are happy the way it is, but a vinyl box means to spend a lot of money….so we are working on possible plans how to realise it…any thoughts from your side are welcome….maybe you have experience with certain ways of distribution etc….

    • The obvious suggestion, Piet, would be some kind of crowd-funded project, ensuring a committed level of investment before going ahead with the project.

      Maybe ZTT/Salvo/Union Square could get involved? I have no idea of the politics behind such a collaboration though.

      It’s an exciting prospect!

  14. henrik says:

    I can’t really decide what I think of this release. What I really like about this 2CD set is how the mixes really show off the individual tracks and parts – great showcase mixes. On the other hand, I think that the most of them don’t really work that well musically – I miss the drama, the climaxes, the dynamics, and in some cases also the songs themselves get a bit lost.

    So thank you VERY MUCH Blank & Jones for letting me hear all these details – I love it! – but I wish you would have put even more effort in making the mixes musically exciting.

    My favourite mix so far is the Mabuse remix, one of the most exciting mixes of the bunch. Thanks to failed muso for the great review! (I actually think that most of Duel is PPG, btw, but that’s a different story :))

  15. henrik says:

    Oh, my last paragraph disappeared! Here it is :)

    Still, even though I have my doubts regarding the, ummm… listenability (!) of some of the mixes, I’d gladly recommend it to FGTH and Propaganda fans! Even if you sometimes maybe will miss some of the drama from the original masterpiece remixes, you’ll probably still enjoy hearing all these details from the original recordings!

  16. DA says:

    Listen to the instrumental to vocal eidt on `San Jose`, the pitch changes.If you can’t hear that, you must be tone deaf!

    • Ok, so I re-listened just now, using both MP3 and CD versions, through a reference AV receiver and Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro headphones, given that I’ve listened to this album at least once daily since its release and not heard this awful pitch change you mention.

      Firstly, I don’t think there’s any need to be so passive-aggressive, but just for the record, I actually have perfect pitch, so even the slightest deviations are a veritable annoyance to me. It’s more an affliction, but I digress.

      So, I think the part of the song you refer to is at around the 3 minute mark. B&J have presented the track so that we get an instrumental section first, followed by the vocals. The thing with this particular song is that it has a lovely key change, something Burt Bacharach was incredibly adept at doing in his songs.

      The song is in the key of C and the first verse is C, F, C, G. The chorus is a wonderful blend of minor 7ths, Em, Am, C#m and Dm with G & B thrown in for good measure. This continues for the second verse and chorus.

      Then we have this break during which the key changes from C to D flat and the rest of the song continues in this fashion through to the coda and end.

      Now, what you’re hearing is this instrumental piece that starts off in C, then changes to D flat at around the 1m 50s mark, as per the song. Then, we revert back to the start of the song when Holly’s vocal kicks in at 3m 05s, and we drop back to the key of C, which is of course where we should be for the start of the song lyrically. C to D flat works well in both directions.

      So, what you hear is completely intentional, is in keeping with the original composition by Bacharach & David and, of course, the cover by Frankie.

      Personally, I think B&J managed that aspect very well indeed, delivering the instrumental parts and exposing the lovely orchestration, as well as giving us Holly’s great vocal, and they mixed the song up a little in the process, yet maintained its chromatic integrity.

      I hope that clears this up for you?

  17. XYZee says:

    Received mine in the post today! I’m on my second listen and as a longtime fan of ZTT, I’m absolutely loving it. It’s a fun novelty to be able to hear the original multi-tracks separated and rearranged. I admit to feeling a hint of frustration at first due to my being SO incredibly familiar with the original mixes. These mixes are certainly meandering and lengthy and abstract in their reassembly, but I now think that’s part of this collection’s best attributes. It allows for the songs to have the time and space to showcase many of the “sounds” buried within the mix in the originals, which I think is what this project is very much about. And Duel is spectacular! Definitely my immediate favorite.

  18. tim says:

    I’d buy this if it was available in the USA without buying at a ridiculously marked up import price. Thanks, music industry, for staying true to a method of distributing your product that was state of the art in 1985.

  19. Carty says:

    It pains me not have my copies yet, as I am so looking forward to listening to this album. What I have seen and heard so far has left me gasping for more.

    I have also heard fan edits of these B&J reconstructions, which, as much as I respect fan mixes, are acting as spoilers for me. I’m a huge family of anything ZTT and it’s been an exciting few years with releases.

    As much as I’d probably love to see a vinyl box release of this, I’d certainly prefer ZTT to hand over some more multi tracks to Blank & Jones.

    As for Rob’s review….brilliant. Left me gagging even more for my copies to arrive!

    • PAC says:

      Bingo to that Carty !

      This one seems to be creating every kind of response. I can not wait for it to arrive. Going to sit down one night with the girls asleep, pour a v cold beer and hit ‘play’ !!

  20. Stuart graves says:

    A great set of mixes and a brilliant balanced review.

    I was also nervous about this remix project. But I think they have done extremely well, keeping the original ethos and feel of the Frankie sound. Yes there may be a few odd blips in the mixes and I fully expect B&J to cringe more times than you have discovered. But this is only to be expected in such a large remix job, and the blips are so minor only those pedants with either too much time on their hands or a chip are banging on about them.

    B&J I salute you, thank you for bringing a little bit of my youth back into my (middle aged) life :-)

  21. baward says:

    I’d either love to hear extended, revisted versions of Tony Mansfield’s groundbreaking 80’s work (predominantly with his own band New Musik, but also records for Captain Sensible, Mari Wilson, Naked Eyes and many others), or what B&J could do with the same. I heard back when it was the day that pop-wise, Trevor Horn really rated Mansfield, as well as Giorgio Moroder.

  22. Griffin says:

    Hi Rob P,

    thank you for the review & your point of view on Duel 3:46~3:47! What’s your opinion on this Paul S? There’s a click/pop at the very end of 3:46!? Too bad Piet didn’t see/read it & reply on that? I loved the song & like B&J’s reconstruction! Just hope to get this right since this version won’t be on other CD’s like original 12″! Does anyone know whether the digital download from itunes/7digital etc are the same as the CD?

  23. Piet Blank says:

    hey griffin, that is completely intentional…in fact this “pause” is on the original tapes and is right in the bar. it is no insert from our side, neither a drop out…i would say it is art ; )…it kind of repeats at 6.24 but with other parts muted or switched on….sorry if this irritates you…still hope you can enjoy the rest….

  24. Daran says:

    I can understand the sacrifice / risk of B&J paying for all the costs upfront, but at near £16 at the moment on Amazon someone is making a nice pile out of the CD version! Hopefully it’s B&J and not Amazon. As a remix album there can’t possibly be anywhere near the same costs as a new studio album, yet the price is way above most standard non-deluxe double CD’s.

    I’ve noticed on Amazon most of B&J’s CD’s are higher price than you would expect.

    • Gary C says:

      Imagine Daran, if you can, assembling and releasing a compilation album of songs that you

      didn’t write any of the music and lyrics for (songwriters to pay)
      didn’t perform on (original performers to pay)
      didn’t produce (producers to pay)
      didn’t create anything on it whatsoever (everything else)

      and then imagine you wanna try and make it better, remix it etc and put it out off your own bat.
      Still thinking their is a nice pile to be made here?

  25. Griffin says:

    Piet, many thanks for your quick reply & the story behind! I like it, thank you for the Duel reconstruction. Now I can sleep at night again without worry & enjoy it even more! Hope there’s a volume two in the future. I’ll be the first to buy it! I’ve bought many of your CD’s: So80s vol.8/Kajagoogoo/OMD/Culture Club/Billy Idol/Heaven 17/Ultravox/Falco/Sandra! I hope you will do more of these! :P

  26. Daran says:

    @ Gary C

    Thousands of other double remix albums exist out there, exactly the same sort of creative costs incurred as this ZTT one, and they are nowhere near the price of this on CD on Amazon. So to answer your question: Yes.

    Someone somewhere is making a pile out of the CD version. If my local supermarket can have 4 CD boxsets from major artists for £8 I would like to see why the biggest internet shop with no bricks and mortar retail overheads need to charge x2 double for a 2 CD release.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Daran, it’s not the same costs. Most remix albums involve cobbling together existing mixes. That involves lots of research (if it’s being done properly) but is in essence the equivalent of putting together an iTunes playlist.

      Actually creating 120 minutes of brand new remixes from the multi-tracks is far far more work.

      Also supermarkets can sell those box sets for £8 because the major record label sells it to them for probably around £5. The only costs for the major label are production costs normally, and if done to scale these are going to be minimal. Blank & Jones will have done a much smaller run of the ZTT compilation than a major label would do for a set which is going to end up in every supermarket in the land, and don’t benefit from economies of scale.

      I do agree that £17.99 is more than you’d normally expect to pay, but on the other hand I hate the way music has been so devalued.

      If a small family go to McDonalds for lunch they’ll happily spend that on a ‘meal’ that will be forgotten in an instant, if you go down the pub with your mates you’ll probably spend at least that, but for two hours of music that might give you pleasure for a lifetime, there is often so much scrutineering of price – ‘is it worth it’ etc.

      Music has become SO cheap it’s ridiculous really.

  27. Daran says:

    And one more stat that doesn’t add up for your argument Gary is that if the creative costs were a factor in this CD price then why is the MP3 download only £7.99? The creative costs would be shared across all media surely? So that would be £12 £13 ish? for the download.

    We appear to be paying near £8 for 2 CD’s and a jewel case and a booklet.

  28. Piet Blank says:

    i totally understand your questions regarding the price on amazon.co.uk for the 2cd set. it is a wide field to discuss everything and due to signed deals we can not put all numbers on the table, but if we earn anything out of this project at the end of the day it will come close to a miracle…but that was never the goal…the only goal is not to loose money…the rest is fun and love for music!
    you are right, the problem is the physical distribution (as you can see in the normal digital price). we are a small label that uses a german distribution company. it all works very well when it comes to the german market. our releases are same price as comparable major company releases. but when we want to sell outside germany our cds, our distributor needs to work with a distributor in the country…let’s take uk here. so before we get any money, the first company that takes it’s share is amazon, then uk distribution, then german distribution. from what is left we have to pay the cd manufacturing (which we have to pre-pay), the GEMA/IFPI publishing money. in germany for example a minimum of 1,60 euro for a double cd. we have to pay for the artwork, the promotion etc and of course we have to pay the master owners/artists as well….considering that we have not received any remix fee we still haven’t earned anything the last 4 months….
    i know many of you are passionate collectors and lovers of music like me, but again, like me, you will always check for the best price…which is totally ok…sometimes i order at online shops in france, uk or even italy because german prices are much higher…that’s just the freedom we have….but all so8os releases are much more work than those “best of 12″ collections” on 3 cds from many majors where they even don’t get the right mixes or names…usually as a collector you already have 80 – 90% on these 10 pound 3 cd boxes, but sometimes you can’t resist and tell yourself “oh well, i was hunting those two mixes so long on cd…” and you end up spending a tenner just to find out that they used again a vinyl rip or a mix that was mislabeled…with so8os we are trying to offer you at least 60% new mixes and our goal is to only use master tape copies, non vinyl rips…but one transfer for one 12″ costs in a good studio around 250 pounds…(don’t think that the majors who own the master would pay for it, they just say: if you want to use it, do a vinyl rip or pay yourself)…again, since amazon has almost no competition any more, they change prices like the weather…one day you pay 17.99 euros for so8os8 for example in germany, then it’s 21.00 euros for 3 weeks…without reason, or without that we get more income…we try to bring in a nice booklet with at least 36 pages for those who prefer cds, but we can not make the prices out there.
    after all, please don’t forget that almost every product which is discussed here at sde is a “nerd” release which will sell around 5000 – 10.000 units worldwide…so i believe everyone at those lovely deluxe edition labels and departments does his job with dedication and love for the music, not to pay the rent….

    • Gary C says:

      @daran

      We should pay the same for a digital release as a physical release? Interesting.
      Amazon have no bricks and mortar overheads? Have you seen the size of their warehouses? They don’t pay rent huh, or utilities. Do people in there work for nothing too?
      Maybe stick to those 80’s compilations at the local grocery stores then. I know when I want something new for my ears I’m all over Aldi for the latest classy compilation. Maybe some of the songs are by the original artists….if not, you can always imagine they are.

      Seriously, well done Piet for coming on here and outlining the creative process of the project, sharing the songs early with readers of this blog AND letting us see into the machinery of the money side of things. For me that shows a real deep commitment to what you created.
      For everyone who’s ever moaned and groaned about an artist or a record company not listening or interacting with the fans, you gotta take your hat off to B&J this time.

      I’m imagining you’ll both be buying stately pleasure domes with the piles of cash Daran thinks you make every time someone buys a physical version of the ZTT project. You got my money guys, and well spent it was too.

    • AudioDile says:

      Piet,

      Thank you for being a good sport about feedback, positive or negative. I’m not enough of a Frankie fan to buy the ZTT comp, but I do quite love your So80s collections and the artist-centric ones as well. I’m curious, since as you know there are tons of mixes that have never been CD yet, is there a way us fans can request particular ones for consideration on future releases?

      Thanks for all your hard work. It’s a shame there are so many comps recycling the same tracks ad nauseum when us fanatics are sitting here waiting to spend money on something that offers us something we still need!

  29. Daran says:

    @ Gary

    Please learn to read posts thoroughly Gary. At no point did I say that B&J are ripping us off or coining it in personally by inflating the margins from the CD. I said that *if* anyone is I hoped it was them and not Amazon. Nor did I say that a digital release should be same cost as physical. If you did your homework you would see clearly that most physical releases are only a pound or two more than the mp3 download.

    I hear what Piet says, and accept it. But I stand by what I said – that as someone who has recently paid not much more for a small label release, pro-remastered Ltd edition SACD of Blade Runner OST delivered from Amazon USA, this release on physical media is a crazy price.

  30. Daran says:

    It must be Amazon. Just checked, and buying it from numerous UK sellers on Amazon marketplace is £2.60 cheaper than Amazon themselves! Must be the covering of their high wages or UK tax burden… Oh, no wait a minute that can’t be it

  31. Wayne Carter says:

    Absolutely in love with this project. Brought me back that brief moment when pop music was everything and seemingly capable of anything.

  32. Chris Lancaster says:

    I’ve been listening to this for the last fortnight, and after initial reservations I am won over. My main problem was that I am just too familiar with the original ZTT output by Frankie, Propaganda and The Art of Noise. When listening to the B&J mixes, with just about every track I would reach a point where I was enjoying it, normally when I realised I was listening to a segment that was lifted directly from a specific mix of the song. Then the bit that I expected to happen next didn’t happen, and the spell was broken. A case of over familiarity with the source material spoiling it for me.

    However, I now, after playing both CDs in full perhaps seven or eight times, can only praise B&J for the work they have done. My favourite tracks are the new version of The Power of Love – the first four minutes of simply the orchestra are so good that it’s almost a shame when the song proper kicks in, together with Black Night White Light, Relax and Dr Mabuse.

    It would be great to see B&J get their hands on other FGTH, Propaganda and AoN material. A second collection containing Close, Into Battle, P-Machinery, War, Only Star in Heaven… It seems unlikely, but I can dream. Thanks to B&J for making a FGTH fan in his mid-40s very happy indeed.

  33. Pete M says:

    Respect to ztt for giving access to the multi tracks and to B&J who clearly do this for passion not money, just hoping they break even. Who would begrudge them making a profit anyway? If they didn’t make any money they wouldn’t be able to keep going. Same applies to most musicians just wanting to earn a living, whilst most people expect it for free now. Totally devalued. So when projects like this come along you just hope for more of them!

    Serious request: any chance of early Pet Shop Boys getting the same treatment? Mix of please and actually or a remade disco?

    Thanks again for a great idea and album!!!!

  34. Glen says:

    Respect to Piet for listening to all the criticism with good humour… it must be soul destroying to put so much work in to something like this and then hear people moaning. You can’t please all the people, all the time :)

    No remix fee? So you weren’t commissioned to do this? Just decided to do it for yourself, and ask ZTT for access to the masters? Again, respect to you both. I came here to read this review before deciding whether to buy it, and after your description of the way the fees are cut, I feel like pirating it and sending the full retail price straight to you.

    cheers, looking forward to more projects like this…

  35. Bertielego says:

    It’s been now a couple of months since this collection has hit the market…
    I must say I’ve been listening to it a lot, and I can’t get bored of it!
    It stands the test of time for me!

  36. Pingback:Day 2: SDE Christmas Giveaway: WIN a SIGNED ZTT so80s set | superdeluxeedition

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