Ever since reviewing the single before this a few months back, I’ve been promising myself that I’d get onto Stay with Me Tonight as soon as possible. Apart from being one of my favourite full singles, it really is worth contrasting these two releases and remembering that although the 1990s weren’t especially kind to The Human League, they really were on top form.
Stay with Me Tonight is a bit of an oddity in many ways. Recorded as the one new track for 1995’s reissued Greatest Hits following the success of Octopus earlier in the year, it was released as a one-off non-album track in early 1996. Following on from the more successful previous single, a reissue of Don’t You Want Me with a whole package of lousy remixes, it just snuck into the bottom end of the top 40 and as with much of The Human League‘s output from the mid 80s onwards, was largely forgotten by the world at large.
But the lead track is classic Human League, particularly for this era. Apart from being one of their strongest lyrics of this period, it’s also one of their catchiest tracks, and is covered with lush synthesiser arpeggios and swells. It’s totally brilliant, and if you disagree you’re wrong (you don’t disagree).
There are then two pairs of remixes; the first by Space Kittens. Their Vocal Mix turns the track into an even more lush mid-late 90s trance track, which is totally bristling with energy. It’s got a little bit of Motiv8 about it (I mean that in a good way – he was huge during this period) and a lot of the original track as well.
Next up is the Future Dub, also by Space Kittens. This one is a 9-minute odyssey through the original track, which as with all dub mixes takes slightly more liberties with the original. This version adds some almost Japanese sounds, mixed with a female chant of “the future,” and “won’t you stay,” and builds into an extremely good version.
The final pair of mixes (let’s call them Side Two, although strictly speaking the 12″ single took things in a different order) are both by Biff & Memphis, a pseudonym used by Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe in the mid 1990s when they were producing massive, lush, long drawn-out remixes for pretty much anyone who was anyone. Soon after, they would be masterminding the sound of the Spice Girls and much too busy for this kind of thing.
Their first remix of Stay with Me Tonight is characteristically beautiful, full of rippling arpeggios, driving drum builds, and massive synth squeals. There’s not a lot of vocal to be heard except for the odd “stay with me tonight,” but this was an age where reinventing the song to produce something equally special was entirely OK, and that’s what happened with this mix.
Finally, Biff & Memphis‘s Dub Mix, somewhat darker and more atmospheric than its predecessor, which further builds on some of the background elements of the mix – there are more synth howls and drum builds, and flanged backing. As with its predecessors, I’m not sure I can really see this being played too widely in “the clubs,” which was perhaps the problem, but it’s very good nonetheless.
Stay with Me Tonight is a great little package, containing a fantastic single and four brilliant remixes – a real masterclass for how to put together a simple, effective release. If only the record buying public of 1996 had agreed.
You can read my thoughts on the dreadful previous single Don’t You Want Me 1995 here. Stay with Me Tonight is deleted, but can be found on the 1995 (black sleeve) version of their Greatest Hits or on the original CD if you track it down.