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Various Artists: Motown Remxed, Vol. 2

motownremixed2_rev

Let the old heads tell it and they’ll snarl at the sample-hungry Kanye West’s and Diddy’s of the industry insisting that they’re nothing but beat jacking clones. So naturally the party responsible for a Motown Remixed, Vol. 2 (Motown) album is instantly persona non grata among soul aficionados. Musicians attempting to remix the likes of Marvin Gaye and The Temptations should proceed with caution while tampering with classics.  Just like the old adage says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In this case the spin the remix DJs chose to give Motown hits is the most unlikely one: a Salsa Meringue flavor. There is honestly nothing more irritating than hearing a Diana Ross ballad, “The Boss” swallowed whole by a beat that seems more fit for a round of margaritas and a Salsa lesson.The conga-heavy sound is awkward over The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and the infamous “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” There is a way modernize Detroit’s finest, which was done more efficiently on Motown Remixed Vol. 1. The first mix had contributions from Questlove, DJ Green Lantern, Jazze Jeff, and Salaam Remi. Instead of upbeat party tunes, they paired the Motown soundtracks with more appropriate and groovier picks. Vol. 1 had a song selection that was more familiar to a younger audience too like “Let’s Get it On” and the psychedelic Rick James. Even the Brit sensation, Amy Winehouse has wiggled her way into bringing the Doo-Wop sexy back with her beehive and all. So it’s doable, but the right formula is key.Motown Remixed Vol. 2 is all over the map, literally, but as the album tapers off it comes together better.  Songs that were originally intended for dancing (See: Jackson Five’s “Dancing Machine” Miami Mix) sound decent with the Spring Break-esque musical elements. Teena Marie’s “Square Biz” has been reincarnated many times over the years but the horns and guitar complemented the blue-eyed songstress well on the Sonidero Nacional remix. The most impressive track on the compilation came from the sweet vocals Smokey Robinson sang in Spanish. Surprise, surprise! He crafted a beautiful rendition of “Aqui Con Tigo (Being With You)” that was the highlight of the 11 tracks. On one end the album gets a nod for a think outside the box approach, pairing historical soul anthems with atypical music. Maybe somewhere out there an invisible target audience exists that would fully appreciate this seemingly Meringue medley. But in terms of the Motown masses, nice try, no Cuban cigar.

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