Don't skip it: Remix adds to original
Soulive: Turn It Out Remixed (Blue Note)
Only a very few live shows have had a meaningful impact on my life. I can count on one hand the ones I've seen in Charlottesville.
One group who consistently amazes when they roll through town is the Blue Note wünderband Soulive. Soulive has been Blue Note Records' number one selling non-catalogue act for two years running.
A trio consisting of drums, guitar, and Hammond organ, they have spread the gospel of funky hip-hop jazz to the masses by relentless touring. Their formula has been simple: Bring jazz to a new generation by incorporating elements of hip hop, funk, electronica, and soul.
With a great many eyes on them, Soulive took the opportunity to do something unique. The group revived their first album, Turn It Up (recorded on Velour Music), making calls to their favorite DJs, MCs, and producers to remix and collaborate on remixes for the album. That resulted in a highly innovative jazz record that crosses multiple boundaries without seeming contrived.
The depth of Turn It Out Remixed is two-tiered. By itself, the album is quite an enjoyable listen. Starting with the punch-line heavy writing of Wordsworth over a reworked Tabasco, and the moving to the inclusion of Chali 2na and Akil of Jurassic5 and Meshell Ndegeocello on Doin' Something, the album will grip you.
Epic remixes by DJ Spinna and DJ Krush follow the first two hip-hop flavored tracks with a bit more orchestrated feel. Unfortunately, after the DJ Krush track, the album loses momentum. Soulive drummer Alan Evans takes his only shot at the remix and misses the mark on S.O.U.L.I.V.E.
Goofy gangster rappers Beatnuts lyrically butcher a relatively decent remixed track of "Steppin." Luckily things peak immediately with appearances by songstress Ekene Nwokoye, producer Dub Fader, DJ Logic, and two tasteful tracks redone by Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno.
Although it's not necessary to have heard the original Turn It Out album, it does give a deeper understanding to the innovation present here on the remix version. Those who may be skeptical about the legitimacy of samplin may find themselves in awe comparing Soulive's original versions to what was eventually done to them by some of the most innovative cats in the game.
I don't think it's possible to beat the energy of Soulive in their live performances. That's something I suggest you don't miss. Despite its shortcomings, Turn It Out Remixed is also something that you should not pass over too quickly.