I became a teenager in the 1980s, so I was familiar with the sounds of squelchy, sparkling synthesizers, frantic drum machines, and the true wonder of twelve inch remixes.
This was when the extended songs still sounded like the originals. There was a real thrill to hearing an extended version of your favourite song; it was still familiar but with added flourishes.
Remix albums started to appear in the 80s; sometimes these were literally collections of 12 inch versions, but others were proper fully-remixed odysseys.
Below are some of the best examples, in chronological order.
The 12″ Album by Howard Jones (1984)
I picked this vinyl up in a charity shop, only to discover that the wrong record was inside! Fortunately, it is available to stream on Spotify.
This remix album includes the massive hit, Like To Get To Know You Well alongside 12 inch versions of other hits, plus a track that was brand new at the time, called Always Asking Questions.
It was released in between his first and second albums.
Disco by Pet Shop Boys (1986)
This was the first Pet Shop Boys album I ever heard, thanks to my best mate who had it on tape and made a copy for me.
This album contains remixes and B-sides from their first album Please. Here’s the extended version of Suburbia.
Control: the Remixes by Janet Jackson (1987)
As the title suggests, this is a collection of remixed singles from her 1986 Control album.
At the time, I was not a Janet Jackson fan; I remember seeing this album in the bargain bin in Woolworths and not giving it a second glance.
I only became interested later on, after Rhythm Nation 1814, when I wondered if her earlier material was any good. Both The Pleasure Principle and Nasty appear in two different incarnations each.
You Can Dance by Madonna (1987)
The album included one new track, Spotlight, and extended versions of older songs from her previous albums, all newly remixed; there were no recycled 12 inch mixes on here.
Most of the tracks are mixed and sequenced in such a way that they blend seamlessly into each other, like a DJ set. Be warned though, this is very 1980s, with some dubious effects that sound beyond dated now.
Just like the Pet Shop Boys, this was the first Madonna album I ever heard, because my best mate had it on tape, and yes, he made a copy for me.
The extended remix of Into The Groove is epic, but my favourite song here is Over and Over.
All Mixed Up by Alexander O’Neal (1988)
I was aware of the song Fake at the time, but didn’t really get into Alexander O’Neal until much later, when I was going back through Jam & Lewis produced material.
This album completely remixes his previous album, Hearsay, and throws in one new song for good measure. The standout for me is this extended version of Fake.
Life Is A Dance: The Remix Project by Chaka Khan (1989)
So here we are in 1989, and this has to be the one with the worst title; could they really not come up with anything better than The Remix Project?
This also happens to be my least favourite; I only really got this for the remix of Ain’t Nobody.
Did you ever have any remix albums lurking in your collection?
2 thoughts on “The pure joy of 1980’s remix albums”
Yeah. I’ll start with one you probably don’t know:
INXS “Dekadance” was a cassette in a cigarette box with mixes off The Swing and a cover of “Jackson” with Jenny Morris). Well worth it.
“Patrick Cowley Dance Party” a must have for real Hi-NRG
In a similar vein are my pair of “Studio 57” albums from Ben Leibrand.
“The Extended Hit Summer ’85” is a great intro to the magic of the 80s extended mix over chart hits like Stranglers “Skin Deep”. The Eurogliders “Maybe Only I Dream” is excellent work.
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Thanks – I didn’t know any of those! I used to have a double cassette called “Hit Mix 86” which was amazing, but it was really a mega mix of songs rather than extended or remix versions.
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