The Sneaker Pimps' Remix Album

Oh no. Another "interim" album, that now almost obligatory record

that every new act of note seems to release somewhere between its

first and third opus. Back in the '70s and '80s, the

interim record was usually a live album from some stale rock band

that decided to issue

recordings from its last tour as some kind of apology for not making

it back into the studio for three years or more. At least they were

usually world-famous before testing their fans' devotion. These

days, the interim albums come much earlier in a band's career and

take shape in one of two guaranteed forms: "the B-sides" or "early

demos" collection, or the remix album. The Sneaker Pimps have gone

for the latter.

Still, some of the songs on

Becoming Re-mi-X-ed are excellent. Van Helden, whose superb

reinvention of Tori Amos'

"Professional Widow" was a U.K. #1 hit last year, opens the proceedings

with a typically breathless hard-

house/techno mix of "Spin Spin Sugar" that retains

the original vocals. The song is followed by an imaginative

Tuff Jam Unda Vybe house mix of "Walking Zero," which speeds up

Kelli Drayton's voice and turns her words in on themselves to create

an entirely new vocal. Elsewhere, "6 Underground" and "Roll On" are

given functional, alternative-dance mixes by Paul Oakenfold, who has turned

songs by

U2 and Happy Mondays into dance-floor staples. "6

Underground" is also given a luscious, orchestral trip-hop

treatment by Simon Warner, and the excellent song "Post-Modern

Sleaze" appears no less than three times -- once as a mid-'80s funk

workout by Salt City Orchestra, once in unrecognizable drum and

bass form by Roni Size, and once in delightful, late-night Bjork mode

by Mono

co-producer Jim Abiss.

Still, one begins to wonder what the point is. I mean, if I want to

hear drum and bass, I'll buy Roni Size's album (his version of "Post-

Modern Sleaze" owes almost nothing to the original anyway). If I

want to dance all night to Armand Van Helden's style of music, I'll go

hear him DJ. If I want house music, I'll buy a good mix CD. And if I

want to hear the Sneaker Pimps, I'll listen to their excellent debut.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm an avid proponent of remix culture, and I

love the idea that, thanks to the sampling revolution, almost every

piece of music is only ever a work of progress, and that any song, no

matter how formally structured it appears to be, can be

deconstructed and rebuilt into something else. But as an album,

Becoming Re-mi-X-ed (horrible title, by the way) is

hopelessly disjointed, like a random voyage through the various

sounds of modern dance culture. The inclusion of the Roni Size mix is

particularly jarring; it sounds like nothing so much as a token sop to

the latest dance-floor craze. And the renditions that close the album

-- down-tempo like their originals -- are in fact so close to home

that I can't imagine too many casual fans being blown away by the

subtle changes.

Back when the remix album was invented -- Soft Cell and Human

League started the trend in the early '80s when they put out

essentially extended versions of Nonstop Erotic Cabaret and

Dare, respectively -- there was a purpose to all of this.

Remixed by the disco-conscious artists themselves, they were

designed not just to be played at parties, but also to be listened to

in their entirety. Though there are still a few occasions when that is

the case (Nine Inch Nails' "Fixed" reinterpretation of "Broken" being a

particularly abstract example), there are more occasions, like this,

when it isn't. By all means, remix an act's current single if you think

it will get you dance-floor popularity and maybe commercial

success as a result (you won't find Tori Amos complaining). But don't

bundle them all back up and sell them to the fans as worthwhile,

cohesive albums when they're not.