As often as it has been the soused wedding party’s dance pick of the evening, the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” with its rather monumental melody and virtually unforgettable bass line, hasn’t come anywhere close to wearing out its welcome. Z-Trip’s hip-hop beat reworking of this ageless work for the opening slot of Motown Remixed does no wrong by preserving this youthful energy, and his nuances even pull the low-end a tad closer to the front of the recording. This updated version may even end up on the wedding party’s hit-list someday, providing everyone is good and loaded.
I’m not sure who at the Motown vaults gave the okay for a remix record. I would think something like this would take years to piece together and get the proper permission for, with all the red tape and such. In 2004, Danger Mouse spent more than two-hundred hours in his bedroom devising something entirely new from two existing records, and EMI made it seem like he publicly urinated on the American flag during the opening pitch of the World Series.
Outside of some misfires (the Tranzition remix of the Supremes should be punishable by law), Motown Remixed has some really good tracks, among them being pop producer Hotsnax’s take on Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown.” Otherwise known as “Full Phatt,” Hotsnax has produced Ashanti and Nelly and applies a radio-ready backdrop to Robinson’s anxiousness but manages to still make it sound good. It’s largely dance-oriented, with club breaks, bleeps and surging blasts that chase each other left and right throughout.
Green Lantern makes an appearance for the bonus cut, laying down a thick, wobbly beat for Rick James’s “Mary Jane.” Tony Yayo didn’t phone in an a capella from prison for this one, but it’s a fine closer regardless. Salaam Remi’s Southern-fried harpsichord/trunk-bumpin’ blend for “ABC” nearly eradicates the original chorus’s melody, and it seems that a verse from T.I. is imminent any second. Remarkably, Michael Jackson still doesn’t sound remotely close to the kid-rubbin’ hermit some say he’s become.
These tracks and a handful others are pretty solid, making about half the album worth listening to. If you take into account that none of it should really be good at all, the record comes out looking fairly decent.