The all-too-brief period in the late 1990s when Everything But The Girl stopped being slightly electronic and very jazz-folky, and switched to being very electronic and only slightly jazz-folky, seems a very long time ago now. After just two albums and a handful of singles, it ended properly in 2005 with the compilation Adapt or Die – Ten Years of Remixes.
It opens with a very chilled out version of the 1996 album track Mirrorball, slightly improbably by DJ Jazzy Jeff, who despite a somewhat questionable CV really pulls something rather special out of the bag with his Sole Full remix, full of rippling pianos, soft pads, and gentle beats.
Adam F‘s fantastic single version of Before Today, also from the Walking Wounded album, follows. The original mix combined gentle pads and a beautiful melody with soft drum and bass, and this version does the same, but with even more energy and sparkle. A couple of tracks in, and this collection really hasn’t disappointed at all.
All things date to some degree, and so it is with Missing, which turns up next. Of course, it’s still one of the best dance tunes ever written, but CL McSpadden‘s Unreleased Powerhouse mix should perhaps have remained unreleased, as it takes up the place of Todd Terry‘s wonderful single version. This mix, while still very good, surely steps a little too close to the vacuous house music of the late 1990s to be the only version of Missing on this compilation?
The Knee Deep remix of Corcovado, painstakingly re-edited by Ben Watt to include the original vocal, is pleasant enough, but is a slight disappointment given how exceptional the original b-side was. Like the dreadful Tracey in My Room, it sounds a bit like a mash-up, and works some of the time, but not all of it.
King Britt‘s Scuba mix of 1994’s Rollercoaster is rather better. It may lack some of the more cohesive elements of the Walking Wounded and Temperamental albums, but it’s an entirely pleasant piece of what’s probably best classified as some kind of warm, deep house, but with a huge number of drums. It’s somehow more haunting than the original, and really rather good too.
There are lots of big names on here, but that doesn’t always mean much, as Kenny Dope‘s take on Downhill Racer, originally from Temperamental, while far from bad, is an uninspired piece of work. Similarly Brad Wood‘s Memphis remix of Single does little more than add a house beat to the original, but the stronger song makes it more memorable.
Dave Wallace‘s darker take on Walking Wounded is a pleasant surprise – it’s very different from the original, but it fits well here, in amongst the darker remixes on this collection. It may lack some of the subtleties of the album version, but it’s a good re-imagining nonetheless.
Kevin Yost‘s Everything And A Groove mix of Five Fathoms is rather more dull. The original, a dark and atmospheric piece of deep house, is reduced to a tribal piece with silly vocal samples and very little else. It’s not entirely unpleasant, just a little empty after the preceding piece and considering how good the original is.
The improbably named Jay ‘Sinister’ Sealee turns up next to rework the stunning Lullaby of Clubland. This version is good, but again lacks the power of the original – or indeed some of the other versions on the single. Similarly, the bizarre Pull Timewarp Remix of Temperamental, which has had pretty much everything changed – it’s not bad by any means; you just find yourself wondering slightly what the point might be.
Changes from original songs doesn’t always have to mean something worse than the original – Fabio‘s fantastic remix of Blame is one example of the opposite trend, although perhaps it’s not quite as different as some of the others. It’s a much darker, more primal take than the album version, and works extremely well. It’s edited here (a minute or so has been lopped off) and unusually on this album, that is a bit of a shame.
Somewhat behind schedule, Todd Terry turns up to remix the very much Todd Terry-inspired Wrong, the second single from Walking Wounded, and the one that sounded a little bit like Missing. Again, the Unreleased Freeze Mix isn’t quite as good as some of the versions that came out in 1996, but it retains most of the charm of the original, so can’t really be faulted.
The acoustic version of Driving is a little out of place, but does serve as a worthwhile reminder of Everything But The Girl‘s background. In the place of a third album, Adapt or Die is a great album, and a fantastic way to close the decade or so in which EBTG put the world of electronic music to rights.
You can just about still find Adapt or Die at all major retailers.