Well, I'm very aware of the basic rules of this blog, which state:
1) Is it available on CD?
2)If not, would people be interested in hearing it?
I know the "real" version of this song certainly is available- but I'm going to take a punt on this particular version being of interest. It's been heard by about 50 people over the years, and no stock copies of it exist, there are just the Masters, the DAT's and the cassette copies that were dubbed off at the time. So it's a real oddity. I've played it to a close circle of friends and family over the years, and they've always got a kick out of hearing it, so, after 15 long years, here it is. I guess I should have asked Bon Jovi first...but hey, I lost their number :)
Why do I love this song? Well, not because it's perfect (it isn't), but because it has that indefinable quality to it- Zeitgeist. The ghost of the time (or to borrow a little phrase from Hawkwind: the spirit of the age). And I realise that I love this song whilst obviously having had a great deal to do with how it sounds; but if you can't cherish the things you've created, then what can you cherish?
So, let's rewind 15 years shall we? It's 1992, and i'm in a band (Jesus Jones. I'm the idiot bouncing up and down behind the keyboards). Now, one of the most marvellous things about being in a band is the constant string of seemingly random requests that come your way. Can you fly to Canada for three days to do some promo? Sure. Can you attend the launch party for a film you've never heard of? Sure- well, hang on, is there a free bar? There is? In that case- sure. Can you remix the next Bon Jovi single?
There are surprises around every corner, and this was one of the biggest. Myself and Mike Edwards were charged with remixing the upcoming Bon Jovi single, the first to be taken from their comeback album "Keep The Faith". We were, it has to be said, gobsmacked, and a little confused as to why they'd approached Jesus Jones in the first place. The song had a four-on-the-floor kick drum, a shuffling drum pattern, it was poppy, it was...well, for want of a better word, it was quite baggy . So someone, somewhere must have put two and two together, found they made five, but called us anyway.
And so it was, that on a chilly Wednesday morning, in September 1992, I arrived at Mike's house with a few records, a few ideas, and the rough tape of this song. We created the rough bones of the remix at Mike's house, in his bedroom studio. I love the fact that Bon Jovi recorded the album, with Bob Rock, in hugely expensive studios across the US, and this song got remixed in a tiny backroom in Kilburn, North London.
The Zeitgeist inherent in this remix comes, partly from the way it was created, and also the way It sounds. It was created using the pre-eminent technology du jour, Atari's Cubase, and by an Akai S1000 sampler. Cheap, affordable and easy to use, this technology was being used all across the UK to create an absolute torrent of new Dance Music, most interestingly for me: breakbeat hardcore. It was to two hardcore white labels I turned to get the breaks for this remix- "Don't Go" by The Awesome 3, and "Dis Generation" by Cosmic Brian. Once we'd got the breaks sampled, we steamed ahead with the tune. The bass line came from our trusty Juno 6, as did the acidic squelches, the Roland D10 keyboard gave us the hats, tambourines and little drum fills, and the rest of it came from Messrs Jovi. One of the funniest memories of the entire process is listening the vocal track and hearing the line "I am broken like an arrow" and actually hearing "I am broken like marrow" We couldn't understand it- who would be broken like a marrow? Why would you compare yourself to a marrow? Even now, I'm still wondering.
We basically turned the song into a slice of poppy hardcore, with a chirpy little keyboard line, and rolling breakbeats. We made a couple of major changes to the song structure, and it's these changes which, I suspect, may be the reason behind this Remix remaining unreleased. First off, we removed the line about "everyone bitchin' 'cos the times are tough".. it just felt wrong when placed into the context of a poppy remix. So we doubled up the first line of the bridge "everybody needs somebody to love". In hindsight, we were really messing with another artist's craft, and I can kind of see why they would be pissed off. But hey, it was all done with good intentions. The second change we made was to totally re-record the guitar solo. It was my greatest musical achievement EVER, finally getting to play a totally bitching solo! We chopped the original solo into around a dozen tiny segments (if you listen carefully, you can hear the repeated phrases) and replayed them, whilst we ran the backing track. It was great fun, and i reckon the solo that emerges sounds AMAZING (well, I would, wouldn't I?) However, I'm willing to bet Richie Sambora didn't feel quite the same. Whatever.
And that was it, really; we mixed it down on the 1st of October, in Master-rock studios, just up the road on Kilburn High Street. At the mixing stage, we also recorded a mental, fast version (about 150bpm) without the vocals, called the "Shariba" mix. That version will stay unreleased :)
So, it's a song with Zeitgeist- for it's use of the technology of the time, the fact that it was recorded in basic conditions, in a spirit of adventure, of emerging possibility, with naive optimism and some of the sounds that were in our heads at the time. It's wrapped up in how I felt and thought about music back then, how I thought it should be made, how I thought it should sound, and most importantly, it's wrapped up in memories of how my life was: how things were when the band was at it's peak, and all this madness was around us. I'm certainly not pining for those days, in fact, I'm rather glad to be free of them, but it's interesting to revisit the memory bank every once in a while.
This mp3 has been dubbed off a cassette, so the quality isn't perfect, but, enjoy. It's been a long time coming.
Oh, and don't tell Bon Jovi. Cheers.
Bon Jovi "Keep The Faith" (Jesus Jones Remix) (mp3)