The remix revolution began in the mid-’80s, when the Pet Shop Boys, Billy Idol, and Madonna issued records of special mixes to reward club deejays, whose early support helped turn those artists into stars. Soon the record companies adapted the strategy to such established stars as Bobby Brown, Milli Vanilli, and Paula Abdul, turning remixing into big business. After a blockbuster album has been bled dry of hit singles, a remixed version is released, thereby creating a second product at minimal cost. Sometimes the remixers (some of whom, like Jellybean Benitez, may even become dance-music stars in their own right) merely add a more current beat to a song, customizing it to mercurial dance-music tastes. But at other times — as in much of the New Kids on the Block’s No More Games/The Remix Album the remixed songs are changed as drastically as black-and-white films that have been colorized.
No More Games is part of what looks like a greater conspiracy — transforming New Kids on the Block into an adult pop group. (Two months ago, the New Kids released a single, ”Let’s Try It Again,” that failed even to reach the Top 40, the first indication that they were vulnerable to failure.) Robert Clivilles and David Cole, creators of the current C & C Music Factory smash ”Gonna Make You Sweat,” created five of the 12 remixes. They give ”Games” a funky, bass- heavy treatment, then renovate ”Call It What You Want” and ”Step by Step” with samples from two electrifying dance-music landmarks, Snap’s ”The Power” and Marshall Jefferson’s ”Move Your Body.” But the effect is limited by poor sound (the album is available only on tape), and the remixers’ talents are wasted on archaic ballads like ”Please Don’t Go Girl” and ”Valentine Girl.”
Vladimir Horowitz fans won’t be won over by No More Games; the New Kids’ adult credibility is so low, even Madonna fans probably won’t be swayed. Still, this contemporary makeover goes a long way toward making the New Kids sound grown-up. And that’s a neat trick for an album they had nothing to do with. B