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Ghost Canyon

Title - ‘Phil Harding - Club Mixes of the ‘80s'
Artist - Various

Orchestrated by one of the music industry’s most revered remixers and producers, Phil Harding, ‘Club Mixes of the ‘80s’ showcases his 30+ career spanning years at the musical wheel. From recording The Clash in the ’70s, remixing and producing top club/dance and pop acts in the ’80s and ’90s, to recently working with Lamont Dozier in L.A., Harding’s mixes dominated the dance floors and club charts on an international scale.

So, for this double-disc release of his work, we kick off with an old school mega-mix of Michael Jackson with The Jackson Five. Stated as simply being ‘I Want You Back’ (12” Remix) it is as far removed from that as possible! A bit of a long mess to start things, sadly, but soon we’re into the luscious Eighth Wonder with ‘I’m Not Scared’ (10” Remix). Those dulcet, sultry Patsy Kensit vocals still get to me today and what a real pleasure it was to hear this song again after some 20+ years!

The always-infectious ‘When Smokey Sings’ (The Miami Mix) from ABC is next and, as expected, was one of the true highlights of the double CD. Sure I could have done without some of the sounds-like SAW effects stretched out over it, but still fun to hear today. Next things slow down with Diana Ross’s 12” mix of ‘Love Hangover.’ A song that seems out of place here, in truth, she meanders her way through it well enough before the master of ‘80s pop/dance music comes to the fore re: Rick Ashley’s ‘She Wants To Dance With Me’ (Original Extended R ‘n’ B Version).

Then comes another Motown burst of energy from the past re: ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’ from the Four Tops (a 12” Remix verison). A generic remix at its best, at least it’s not messed with too much by Harding. The PWL Extended Verson of Holly Johnson’s wonderful dance floor smash ‘Americanos’ is next and is a true breath of fresh air to this CD. Wow, what fun it was to hear this song again, with Holly in fully flamboyant vocal form! The Godley & Crème track ‘Snack Attack’ (Extended Remix) is next, and in truth it was a track I’d never ever heard before - and I lived and collected records in the UK in the ‘80s!

Same can be said for ‘Easy Just To Say (I Love You)’ from Jimmy Ruffin, for this Extended Club Mix was another song that I had never come across before either! A song that starts slow, it quickly builds and is soon an all-out Ruffin vocal experience. Nothing special though, sorry. However, Basia’s cover of the classic ‘Until You Come Back To Me’ (Phil Harding 12” Remix) is a beautiful experience. Her voice is exquisite and I never tire of listening to her tones sweep across this song.

Another chance for Rick to roll comes in the form of ‘Til The Day That I Die.’ A lesser-known cut of his, this Remix is nothing special and is not even a good Rick song, in truth! In fact, it sounds like an out-take to an album that was released, but should never have been!! The first disc ends with the HUGE UK dance floor smash from Dead or Alive, ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record).’ Perhaps infused with one too many cowbells come the end, the so-called Murder Mix comes in at around 9 minutes long, but it’s worth it for every beat!

The second disc kicks off with a highly-underrated song from back in the day, ‘I Want To Be Your Property’ (DEF B4 Dishonour Mix) by Blue Mercedes. A great dance track that you would swear features ABC’s Martin Fry on vocals (albeit that it’s actually David Titlow), it amazingly peaked only at #66 on the UK Singles Chart back in 1988! Then comes Wham!’s female backing singers, Pepsi & Shirle with their hit single, ‘Heartache’ (Dot & Daisy’s Club Remix). A track in its new form here on this album that turns it into more of a beat machine, the song wasn’t much back then and hasn’t been helped here either!

Imagination’s lesser-known track ‘Instinctual’ (Jack Leee Freak Mix) is next, and now features a vocal overdub and some deeper bass beats from Harding. Lee Johns’ vocals still come through, but seem somewhat drowned by this new mix. However, the brilliant Blow Monkeys track ‘Digging Your Scene’ (Remix) is a real pleasure to behold once again. A hit single from the day that doesn’t seem to have been messed with too much now by Harding, its strings and musical swoops make this song a classic for today too! Then comes yet another lesser-known Rick song, this time in the form of ‘Stay With Me Tonight,’ the remix. Why, oh why these sub-par Astley songs are on this album is beyond me, but I didn’t create the album!

Now we hit a section of songs that I never ever came across once on the radio back in the ‘80s re: the UK! Fe Fi Fo Fum with ‘Beat Your Body’ (Manhattan Mix) is a painful mess to hear, ‘Oxygen’ (Extended Dance Version) by The Blue August Project (who? I know, right!) is a combination of all cheesy sounds from a synth ‘80s, and only Sinitta’s ‘Body Shopping’ (New Vogue Version) is one I can claim to kinda recall. That said, upon first listen, it must also have Madonna’s reps reaching for their lawsuit phones soon!

Then come another three tracks I’ve never encountered in all my life in the UK chart scene: XS-5 with ‘I Need More’ (Extended Dance Version), Agents Aren’t Aeroplanes with an Art of Noise-ish bass beat laden ‘The Upstroke’ (12” Version), and Jimmy Ruffin’s slow-groover ‘Truly Yours’! An overlong, yet pleasant to hear after all this time ‘Rain Or Shine’ Remix from the Pearson family group known as Five Star comes next, before Rick brings the collection to an end with a boisterous Phil Harding 12” Mix of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.’