Now, I post this 80s classic without the detached, ironic, blank posture that afflicts the hipster community as described in horrified detail in Adbusters here. These hipsters have helped keep all this 80s music in the cultural mix long past when I, who was a teenager the first time it rolled around, would have imagined. In 1984 there was a sharp divide between bubble gum pop and hair metal, and the cool stuff like Bowie, X, The Smiths and The Talking Heads. Pop was a guilty pleasure at best, insipid and grating at worst. Sometimes those two aspects overlapped, of course. See: Madonna. But the synth heavy hits that MTV persuasively sold with narcotic visuals felt trifling even if they were catchy, and I figured history would soon discard them, along with my adolescence. But after a brief respite in the 90s bars and parties welcomed Corey Hart and Pat Benetar and post-Fleetwood Mac Stevie Nicks back with open skinny arms, creating a bizarre musical Groundhog Day for those of us who lived through it all the first time around. A lot of catchy tunes, to be sure, but the layer of froth on top relegates much of it to mere nostalgia. Then I discovered Eli Escobar, who may be rewriting musical history and redeeming an entire decade.
DJ and remix artist Escobar strips these glossy pop concoctions of that synthesizer pulse that, too me, dates the material badly, and he brings the beat forward, crafting a more timeless, and certainly a more funky version of the original. I first heard his work on this insane mix of Janet Jackson's 'The Pleasure Principle', where he used the existing beats like a weapon against the keyboard hum that undermined the radical edge that drove the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis produced jam--making it harder, stranger and certainly funkier. On Stevie Nick's 'Stand Back' he's outdone himself--the 7:46 verion here is tight, driving, fresh--he keeps the signature synthesizer hook but anchors it with a tighter, angrier beat and bassline. All these 80s artists should just commision Escobar to go back and remix their stuff, peeling away the sacharine icing and revealing the true song, and the true beat, beneath it. Escobar DJs Wednesdays at Bang! on Rivington Street in NYC; his website with other cheese--and irony--free remixes is here.