Glam rockers T. Rex influenced many of the bands that have passed through the studios of KCRW – from Beck to MGMT. Now four of our DJs have remixed four tracks from the band for the T. Rex vs. KCRW Soundclash Remix EP.
All of the songs getting the remix treatment were Top 20 charting singles that came out in the wake of T. Rex’s seminal album The Slider. The EP closes with a cover of “Main Man” from The Slider recorded live in KCRW’s studios by Portugal. The Man. We’ve got more on that to come!
Meanwhile, here’s a little snippet from each DJ’s experience as well as the audio. (Free download here!)
Liza Richardson remixes “20th Century Boy”
DJ Liza Richardson retains the rock spirit of “20th Century Boy” but takes it to the limit by rearranging parts and adding handclaps, cowbell and more, with the help of superstar DJ Harvey. A pounding, percussive update of the original rock anthem with just the right amount of dramatic flair. .
“I thought about deconstructing it and turning it into a dubbed out Balearic bliss fest, but it wasn’t working. In the end, we decided to keep it rock and take it to the limit. I always like tracks that make you wait for the pay off and then the pay off is BIG, so we restructured it.
This is how I like tracks to go: interesting intro, short verse, ear candy, short verse, mini breakdown teaser, verse, new elements, verse, psychedelic freak out breakdown with tons of ear candy, building back up, then pay off with big chorus and all the tracks coming in super strong and chaotic, then — solid, thoughtful ending. So this is what we tried to do. We tried to say as much as possible, but not go over 4 minutes. (it’s 4:09, pretty close).
We used many of the original tracks but added percussion, by none other than the world famous superstar DJ Harvey, who also provided his characteristic, patentable laugh at the very end. Josh Marcy, my engineer, made a hilarious bass solo for the break down. I asked him to make it dumb, fat and exaggerated like he’s trying too hard, like he’s a jazz player hired on the wrong session trying hard to rock out. We sampled the acoustic guitars and wrote new melodies with them.
We dubbed out the background vocals and used the chorus only once, making it less repetitive than the original. I played cowbells, my favorite instrument.”
The original Solid Gold Easy Action:
Dan Wilcox remixes “Solid Gold Easy Action”
For his first ever remix effort, DJ Dan Wilcox collaborated with the beatmaster for LA band Pollyn and takes T. Rex directly to the dancefloor with this disco-fied version of “Solid Gold Easy Action”. This famously suggestive track is even more salacious with an extra emphasis on Bolan’s heavy breathing.
“Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the stop-start rhythms in the original version of “Solid Gold Easy Action”, I loved the vocals and the attitude. It was suggestive and dirty and I knew it would make perfect dancefloor bait.
I called Adam Weissman from local band Pollyn (they’ve remixed artists ranging from Gorillaz and Paul Simon to The Eurythmics), hoping he would be interested and he got on board. Despite the herky-jerky rhythm patterns of “Solid Gold Easy Action”, the majority of the instrumental & vocal sits at around 108 beats-per-minute… which for me is that early jump-off point of the DJ set where people start to bob their heads and begin to move their feet, so I wanted to keep this in mind. Using some dusty African drum samples and our own hand claps, Adam constructed the perfect beat and we began to layer from there. We echoed Bolan’s vocals just the right amount and, as if his lyrics weren’t lewd enough, created a loop with his lustful exhale/inhale for added salaciousness.
We struggled with the bass line a bit and, although I had been in a number of bands in high school and hadn’t played in years, I eventually pulled out my old bass and came up with something that stuck, which made it into the final mix. So not only does this mark my first outing as a remixer, it also serves as the only recording of me playing bass after first picking it up some 25 years earlier!
But for the real instrumentation, we went with the pros and Adam recruited his Pollyn bandmates to put the finishing touches on it, including some backup vocal work from singer Genevieve Artadj. To top it all off, we had the amazing Dave Cooley (Madlib, Silversun Pickups, Local Natives) do the final mix.
My sincere hope is that is works equally effective in headphones as on dance floors, with that same spirit of what turned me on to T.Rex in the first place.”
Get a free download of Dan’s remix here!
Amazing live video of T Rex performing the original “Children of the Revolution”
Gary Calamar remixes “Children of the Revolution”
“Children of the Revolution” is the ultimate track about teenage rebellion and DJ Gary Calamar slows it down and gives it an atmospheric, late night, groovy feel. Calamar is the music supervisor for many acclaimed TV series, including “True Blood” and “Dexter”, and there’s a cinematic pinnacle in this remix with the children’s choir Gary gathered.
“I first heard about glam rock through my subscription to Circus Magazine and seeing pictures of people like Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Alice Cooper initially SCARED me. Eventually I started hanging with some kids who were big T Rex fans and although I have never put on any make up, I finally got into it.
“Children of The Revolution” is a stone classic and one of my favorites. I also loved the imagery of these children of this revolution.
I immediately called on my friend Quincy Blaque for his technical expertise and we got to work. Quincy is an amazing musician and producer and quite a character. http://www.quincyblaque.com/
Beck, a known T. Rex fan, released a b-side of his song “Jack Ass” which he called “Strange Invitation”. It was really stripped down, with strings, and I loved it. That was the model I had in mind for my remix.
I knew I wanted to get some kids singing on this. Luckily, I have a 10 year old daughter who loves to sing and we reached out to some of her friends, who became The Wonderland Revolutionary Children’s Choir. I love the way you can hear them marching toward us from down the street. You can’t fool them!
I also wanted to add a voice from Marc Bolan that we hadn’t heard before. I found a great interview where he reflects on being a pop idol and we slid that in to the mix. At the very end Marc says “I’m still here”. I like to think that he’s still around, driving his rolls royce and giving us a thumbs up.”
Chuck P remixes “Teenage Dream”
DJ Chuck P’s remix of the melodramatic mini-opera “Teenage Dream” was a homegrown effort constructed primarily in his personal studio. Keeping the lyrics entirely intact (Bolan considered them among his best), the track is a slightly sinister, industrial take, which keeps all the original vocals yet adds an extra layer of drama and intensity to the already epic song.
“The chance to rework one of the best guitar pop bands from the 70s is something I couldn’t possibly pass up. T. Rex collected so many different sounds into one band. They could be skeletal and rockin’ or expansive and majestic.
Ultimately, T. Rex songs hold up well to being deconstructed and remixed because they’re such great songs to begin with. As a long time fan of T. Rex — and Marc Bolan’s first band, John’s Children — it was a real treat for me to take on “Teenage Dream”. It’s slow and dense so I couldn’t add much because there was a lot there already. I started out with a double time beat, a la KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole in his “I Put A Spell On You” remix that I adore so much, but it just wasn’t happening. The more I played with the bits, the more a new direction came into focus.
I muted most of the guitars, then the piano and strings. Stripping the song down to vocals and drums, I replaced the warm acoustic instruments with cold synths and sound design. I left the BPM’s alone and kept Bolan’s vocal track and the gospel-like backing vocals. Toward the end it all disintegrates into chaos until the incredible piano and guitar interplay, which sounded perfect by themselves.”
Portugal. The Man. “Main Main” Cover
Portugal. The Man’s most recent release, In The Mountain In The Cloud, was among the top 20 most played albums at KCRW last year. When they appeared live on Morning Becomes Eclectic, we heard the T. Rex influence in their single “Got it All” and asked them to record a cover after their performance. Here is their version of “Main Man,” offered as part of this T. Rex vs. KCRW Soundclash EP.