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 Fine Young Cannibals’ The Raw & the Remix the remixed songs are changed as drastically as black-and-white films that have been colorized.
Small alterations loom large in the best Cannibals remixes. ”Johnny Come Home” grows more tense with the addition of frantic, double-time percussion. And Monie Love, England’s top entry in the growing field of formidable female rappers, steals a mix of the Cannibals’ biggest hit, ”She Drives Me Crazy, ” with her opening parry (”Drive you crazy?/C’mon give me a break, think about it/You stand a chance in hell?/I doubt it”), which ridicules singer Roland Gift’s self-pitying tale of his infatuation. Overall, though, the album seems just to be marking time until the Cannibals’ next release, which hasn’t yet been scheduled. The Raw & the Remix includes four songs remixed in two versions each; dance fans and deejays will prize the subtle distinctions, but more casual observers may view them as unnecessary padding.