Thursday, 5 January 2012

Arthur Baker - Pet Shop Boys - In the Night Extended Mix & NYC Remix Culture

In the early 80s the culture of the producer/remixer truly exploded. Following on from the ground breaking work of the likes of Tom Moulton, Walter Gibbons and John Luongo in the 70s, labels and artists would go to the hottest underground DJs and producers to ensure their latest records would hit hard in the charts and the clubs.

New York was the epicentre of club culture in this period. Shep Pettibone who later would become the world's top remixer during the mid 80s eventually working with Madonna in the early 90s on Vogue and Erotica, started off putting together his groundbreaking mastermixes on Kiss FM. John "Jellybean" Benitez was a DJ at the legendary Funhouse club producing Madonna's early hits Borderline and Holiday who then became the go-to guy for dance mixes of pop hits (Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney's Say, Say, Say and Irene Cara's Flashdance to name but 2). Larry Levan was the king of the Paradise Garage (who we have previously profiled!)whose remixes of Grace Jones' Pull Up To the Bumper and Gwen Guthrie's Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent rocked clubs worldwide.

One its most innovative figures was Boston-born Arthur Baker. Arthur arrived in the Big Apple in 81 just as clubland was exploding. His first single Tee's Happy (recorded as Northend) was a smash in Manhattan and led to him working with Tommy Boy Records boss Tom Silverman on one of the landmark elektro releases, Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force's Planet Rock. This planet-shaking single fused the hip hop sound of the Bronx with the electronic melody and beats of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express to devastating effect. He followed this up with the dancefloor smash Walking On Sunshine as Rocker's Revenge - another global club classic.

New Order were so smitten with cutting edge New York dance culture that they not only imported the look and feel of the Funhouse, Danceteria, Roxy and Paradise Garage clubs back to the UK in the shape of Manchester's Hacienda, but they also teamed up with its top producer, Arthur Baker on 1983's Confusion. Indeed Confusion's video actually features NO visiting the Funhouse.

When Hall & Oates were looking to update their sound in 84, Arthur was the man they called to produce their album Big Bam Boom which featured the dance and pop hits Out Of Touch and Method Of Modern Love.

He was an in-demand remixer throughout the 80s with rock gods like Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac receiving Baker's magic dancefloor touch. He also produced the definitive mix of Pet Shop Boys' In The Night (featured on Disc 2 of Elektro Diskow and on their excellent Disco album) among many fine re-rubs during that period.  His production work continued through the 90s and 00s as future generations discovered and re-discovered his vastly influential back catalogue.

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