WORDS: NICK GORDON BROWN
First there were disco edits. Then disco mixes. From there we moved through extended mixes and into remixes. Later, remixers began to add ‘additional production’. For some, this was deemed a step too far, they thus favoured a return to editing – although some of them were dubbed re-edits. Or maybe turntable edits. Then came revisions, re-works, re-rubs, even edits-not-edits. The ‘version excursion’. As software continued to evolve, so there became many more ways to skin the edit cat. There are myriad other issues to consider, such as “are they legal?”, “where can I buy them?”, “what’s the difference between a (re-)edit and a remix?”. It truly is a minefield - but one that is well worth tiptoeing through to make it over to the ecstatic dancefloor that awaits you on the other side.
Music history has itself been re-edited many a time. As the annals of club culture are revisited through a hedonistic haze, mashed up revisionism can become gospel, unwittingly or otherwise. However, when it comes to the story of the edit, there is almost complete unanimity. Our story begins with Tom Moulton. Initial experiments splicing together non-stop mixes on reel to reel tape drove an obsession with extending tracks to maximise their danceability for dancers lost in the moment and DJs aiming for a continuous flow of music. Early efforts for the likes of BT Express, Don Downing and Gloria Gaynor were met with at best bemusement by the artists, but dancers voted with their feet and edit / remix culture was born.
Although those early continuous mix tapes would become the stuff of legend, Moulton never DJ’ed. However, it was to be some of New York’s most cherished DJs who would be next out of the edit blocks and into his slipstream. In the vanguard, Walter Gibbons. Already effectively ‘live remixing’ in clubs to extend his favoured tunes of the moment, Gibbons transferred his skill with ease to the studio. Salsoul Records in particular loved Gibbons’ work, and his mix of Double Exposure’s ‘Ten Percent’ was the first commercially released 12” single.
Fellow New York DJs such as Tee Scott, Shep Pettibone, Jellybean Benitez and Francois Kervorkian quickly joined the studio party. The likes of Larry Levan, Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles (the latter two in Chicago) were edit evangelists, but kept much of their work exclusive to the dancefloors of their precious home venues (Paradise Garage, Music Box and Warehouse / Powerplant respectively), elevating ‘in club’ editing to new levels. One pioneering New Yorker is still highly sought after for his editing expertise to this very day, as evidenced by his acclaimed work with Defected’s The Vision. Danny Krivit told us: “Most of the edits I do start out specifically for myself & my dancefloor, over a 40 year period hundreds of them have been released, and for each one of those… there’s about 20 or more that haven’t, plus I’m making new ones all the time… so there’s still a lot to come. I also have a lot of vinyl only edits coming out soon on a variety of labels, including many on Defected.”‘King of the edits’ Danny has recently made a lot of his edits digitally available for the first time at https://www.editsbymrk.com/. Fans of ‘Edits By Mr.K’ will truly consider this a goldmine, and well worth a visit. Our ‘Mr K’ selection is considered a stone cold classic
John Morales was also driven by the desire to create revamps of tracks that hit the spot on his dancefloors, while staying true to the original spirit of the record. His mixes have moved seamlessly with the times not only in terms of dancefloor dynamics, but also with regards to mastering new software as it has come along. Our ‘M+M’ pick* is a great example of a three minute commercially-orientated song being extended into an eight minutes+ workout.
(*RIP Sergio Munzibai, John’s partner in the M+M production team until his untimely passing in 1991).
A Word from Joey Negro
“These days the word edit seems to be used to describe any rework of a song that keeps the original harmonic structure intact and is generally based around the original musical elements. Up until 10/15 years ago, an edit would have been a re-arrangement of the master. So, basically what you hear on the record chopped about - changing the order stuff appears in, maybe repeating some sections / omitting others but sonically it remains the same, nothing new has been added. However, this basic re-arrangement can still make a massive difference to the song’s dancefloor appeal.“ (Here is one of Joey’s floor-destroying edits).
“Computer programs like Ableton have made it far easier to quantise a live song from the 1960/70/80s and straighten out the tempo fluctuations. Also, memory isn’t an issue these days, back in the 90s putting an entire song onto an S1000 sampler wouldn’t have been possible… now everyone has a studio on their laptop and straightening out and adding chunkier drums to an old track is relatively easy. For me, if your starting point is the original master (be it from vinyl, CD or YouTube) then what you’re doing is an edit - because you’re still using the original mix with their balance and reverbs, delays etc. That's not to say things can’t get pretty intricate and move a long way away from the original but it started with their mixed master. If you’ve got the multitrack with the dry separated parts and you’re actually mixing it again, then even if you don’t do much different it’s by definition a remix.” (Here is one of Joey’s exquisite remixes).
Dave Lee, aka Joey Negro, is not only a walking encyclopedia of disco but also of house music. As DJ, producer, remixer, editor and compilation curator, he has married the very best of both worlds together for three decades. A kindred spirit whose path has often run parallel to Lee’s is the inimitable Dimitri From Paris. In the 1990s, his debut artist album Sacre Bleu, quickly followed by his Mixmag and Playboy Mansion mix compilations, saw his global reputation soar, and to this day he remains firmly entrenched in contemporary disco’s upper echelons. His remix / edit CV takes in both a who’s who of contemporary artists and an enviable list of stone-cold classics updsated. In 2018, he helmed a box set of re-workings of CHIC Organisation material on Glitterbox to ecstatic reactions.
In the 1990s, DJ Harvey was at the forefront of creating contemporary edits out of vintage source material. His Black Cock label in association with Gerry Rooney pretty much wrote the rulebook* for this lost art, and was instrumental in elevating Harvey’s reputation to new heights. (*our selection is actually the first release on Noid Recordings, a release Harvey shared with fellow torch bearers and Noid owners the Idjut Boys).
Greg Wilson was a superstar DJ before the term had been invented, ruling the roost in the north west of England in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and arguably the UK’s first exponent of reel to reel mixes and edits. However, in 1983, at the tender age of 23, he made the decision to retire from DJing and focus on artist management. He would not return to the decks until 2003, but his Credit to the Edit series and a jaw-dropping Essential Mix would see him welcomed back a DJ hero, and the ultimate 21st century edit maestro.
Kon has received maximum love from the Defected family over the past year as part of The Vision, and rocked the house at the last Glitterbox party pre-lockdown at London’s Printworks. However, the Boston man’s career stretches way back, and he is seen by many as the DJs’ DJ, a vinyl connoisseur – and a master of the edit.
Todd Terje first made his name in the 2000s with a series of deftly executed edits, ranging from Chic and Stevie Wonder to, rather more unexpectedly, Wham! and Dolly Parton. Our selection sees Paul Simon’s afro-inspired soft rocker ‘Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes’ transformed into a prime slice of Balearic funk.
The Dr. will see you now: Packer’s Different Strokes
“I’d come off almost twenty years of producing drum and bass, so I had a specific way I used to work. I used to make my own chords, my own basslines, my own drums, I’d often record vocals etc., so (I looked to) to put those techniques into an edit. I think in my own mindset I was looking at it like I was doing an original track, or remixing something officially with stems. That way I put that touch to it and I was able to give it a proper mix down, separate all the sounds, pull out the low end frequencies on certain bits, and then boost the low end frequencies in your bass, your kick drums, and then just get them sounding big and fat so that they will sound great on the soundsystem.”
“(The) Rene and Angela track ‘I’ll Be Good’… was covered on Defected by the Soul Rebels featuring Lisa Millett. (Simon Dunmore) sent me all the parts to that song, and then I looked at it, and took it back to the Rene and Angela version and the result was fantastic. It did really well…and I think Simon saw something developing there and thought ‘Okay, what can we give him next?’ So next was ‘Bad Habit’. I went back to the original version by Jenny Burton from 1985, and I drew influence from that, but using the parts and the re-sung vocals from the ATFC version.”
“(‘Joys’) was very popular last year, the Purple Disco Machine mix was amazing. So, I decided to rework the SOS Band ‘The Finest’, the original version of it, just because it was flavour of the month at the time. Simon heard it and really liked it, and next thing I got an email back saying ‘”Hey, how about we give you the Roberto Surace vocals and you replace the SOS Band ones, it could be a potential album track.” It really came together well and the re-sung vocals really sat well with the original kind of concept that I’d gone for …I’m really excited to have that as part of the album.”
Two prolific names of the last decade are both to some extent men of mystery – rarely interviewed, but with a seemingly never-ending supply of original multi-track ‘stems’ from which to re-work classic tracks from multiple genres. We know that The Reflex is Nicolas Laugier, French-born London resident who served a serious studio apprenticeship before gambling everything on his own set up. His USP is a refusal to use anything not found on those stems (hence why he refers to his works as ‘revisions’ rather than edits or remixes). American artist and producer Luxxury’s edit career also featured a wide array of artists being mixed from the original stems, many at a ‘slo-mo’ BPM. His edit of The Eagles resulted in legal shenanigans which have meant less edits and more of his original work and commissioned mixes in recent years, but he certainly made his mark on the edit scene.
Delivering the goods consistently since its debut in 2012 has been Brooklyn’s Razor-N-Tape label, which has played host to many who have become leading lights of the scene, including Late Night Tuff Guy, Eli Escobar (both featured here), JKriv, Ron Basejam and Yuksek. The staple sound of the label is very much soul, disco and boogie tunes re-worked for contemporary dancefloors. Where R-N-T scores highly is with its ability to keep the quality control high. In a market which is not only getting ever more flooded, but where the names often have to be changed to protect the less than innocent, establishing such a level of trust with DJs and diggers is paramount.
Anatomy of a Glitterbox set: Michael Gray
Fresh edits and mixes were heard throughout the Glitterbox Virtual Festivals. Many selectors took the opportunity to showcase some of their own ‘hot off the presses’ re-rubs, leaving the chat rooms awash with fans seeking track IDs. In just one hour, Michael Gray’s set at Glitterbox 3.0 was a sonic summary of the breadth of his editing & mixing craft. Michael informed us that his set included original productions (eg. ‘The One’, ‘The Weekend’), full multi-track remixes (eg Sylvester, Chaka Khan), ‘2 track’ mixes from digital copies of tracks (eg Hi Voltage), re-edits from vinyl (eg Harold Melvin), and mixes starting from an acapella with both new and replayed instrumentation added (eg Chanelle). Whatever the starting point, the end goals remained the same – a version that he could play out in his own sets; which would excite a younger audience while keeping the respect of those familiar with the originals; and ignite the dancefloor. For Michael and his peers, this really is both a calling and a way of life.
A Balearic state of mind
For those DJs for whom digging is half the fun, an eclectic taste is the norm – as is the burning desire to find a way to fit a track you love into a set, whatever genre it may come from. For the open-minded souls who epitomised the original Balearic scene, mixing wasn’t always paramount, it was all about mood. Gradually, as audiences began to expect smooth mixing even from multi-genre DJs, and studio technology opened up more possibilities, dancefloor-friendly re-workings began to appear. One master of the craft is Ashley Beedle, his ‘Heavy Disco’ Kate Bush mix being a prime example.
Other acclaimed crate diggers began to mine this rich seam, polishing all manner of source material into floor-friendly gems. Yam Who?, aka Andy Williams, is signed to Glitterbox as half of Qwestlife, runs the acclaimed Midnight Riot label, and oversees Mixmag’s disco reviews. Somewhere in amongst all this, he regularly delivers top notch tracks, mixes and edits. His label’s Take It To Church compilation saw Andy and another Glitterbox favourite, Alan Dixon, fully realise the dancefloor potential of the Soup Dragons’ indie dance standard ‘I’m Free.’ In a similarly nu-Balearic vein, Boston’s revered house and disco dons Soul Clap, in amongst original material, commissioned remixes and extensive touring, found time to revive and revamp Chris Isaak’s perennial beach bar favourite ‘Wicked Game’ to devastating effect.
Birmingham’s Sam Redmore is another edit maestro who is a regular guest on the Craig Charles 6 Music radio show (most recently with a Stevie Wonder 70th birthday tribute mix but his credits also include his ‘Beatles Trunk of Funk’ mix). Here we feature his unique take on Mr. James Brown.
“Where can I buy them?”
Many an edit is still released on vinyl, adding an air of authenticity. They also appear regularly on the main download sites, arguably the modern equivalent of the old “let’s just press 500 white labels”. Once you move onto the main streaming sites (and YouTube), edits are harder to locate, and are often taken down promptly. If you really want to dig, try Bandcamp, where many of the leaders of the edit pack have set up shop. Happy hunting!
Check out our glorious selection of edits in the new D-Store Recommends section...
10 Bonus Jams