Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bob Dylan turns to hip hop remix

Bob Dylan lets the dance world’s hottest producer Mark Ronson remix one of his songs.

When Bob Dylan “went electric” he provoked howls of protest. But now the mercurial musician has taken an even more unlikely turn after sanctioning the first hip-hop remix of one of his classic songs.

Dylan has agreed to let Mark Ronson, the dance world’s hottest producer, weave his magic on Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine), the bittersweet break-up song from his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde.

After years of rejecting all offers to remix his catalogue, Dylan, 66, has decided that a dancefloor makeover is the best way to introduce his generation-defining work to a new teenage audience.

The London-born Ronson is the DJ hitmaker behind Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. He recently turned a song by The Smiths into a pop hit.

Ronson’s update of Dylan’s bluesy track is expected to fill dancefloors and top the singles chart. The Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe will give the song its first airing next week.

When Elvis Presley’s estate sanctioned a remix of his A Little Less Conversation in 2002 it became a global No 1 and revitalised interest in “The King”. Dylan’s record company is hoping to prompt a similar revival in his popularity before issuing a retrospective of his work in the autumn.

Mike Smith, managing director of Columbia Records, told The Times: “It is the first time Bob has agreed to anything like this. We want to bring his music to an audience unfamiliar with Dylan in a similar fashion to the Elvis campaign.”

Ronson and Smith were invited to trawl through the entire Dylan catalogue for a suitable track to reinvent. Smith said: “We hit on You’ll Go Your Way because it already has a great rhythmic breakbeat. It’s also got a timeless, universal lyric.

“It’s not such a familiar song that people will cry, ‘Sacrilege’. It will also confound people’s expectations of Bob, which he has done throughout his career.”

When Dylan strapped on an electric guitar in 1966, he was famously called “Judas” by one fan who could not accept the singer’s transition from acoustic troubadour. His sudden swerve into dance music may be the final straw for some.

Smith said: “We hope the fans will see this as an addition to the canon, not a desecration. It’s a new interpretation of Bob’s world and adds to the mystery. We all approached the remix with respect and awe.”

Ronson said: “It’s the first time Bob Dylan has given anyone the original multi-tracks of his songs to do remixes. I’m a huge Dylan fan, so it’s a great honour, along with the fact that he heard it and approved it, because, as you imagine, he’d be quite picky.”

Dylan is enjoying a creative resurgence with Modern Times, his 44th album, topping the US charts. His never-ending tour continues and his puckish radio show, which features classic folk, jazz and blues, has become a BBC Radio 2 hit.

He is not the only rock veteran to succumb to the remix temptation. The Beatles’ Love, the soundtrack to a Las Vegas stage show, comprises elements of their most famous songs stitched together under the direction of Sir George Martin.

But their lawyers were less pleased when the DJ Danger Mouse created The Grey Album by mixing raps from Jay-Z’s Black album with the Beatles’ White Album. The acclaimed results were removed from the public domain.

The Dylan remix will be included on a 51-track, three-CD career retrospective, to be released in October.

Other changes of note

— Charlotte Church did not just have the Voice of an Angel, but the public image of one, too. Then she ended her successful classical singing career with her first pop album, Tissues and Issues, in 2005. She has since left her record label

— Sting has repeatedly reinvented his musical style but last year’s album was the most radical yet. Songs from the Labyrinth was composed entirely of 16th-century music performed on the lute

— Prince renounced his moniker and took a symbol as his “official name” in 1993. He later became The Artist Formally Known as Prince, simply The Artist, and now, it seems, Prince once again

— Paul McCartney has turned from pop and rock to produce several classical albums, most notably Standing Stone in 1997. His latest classical work, Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart), was voted Album of the Year in the Classical Brit Awards in May

— The Who composed and performed an 11-song mini-opera at the BBC Electric Proms last year

— Cat Stevens was a successful pop singer and songwriter in 1966-78 before becoming a Muslim. He took the name Yusuf Islam, gave up his performing career and dedicated himself to education and philanthropy. In 2006 he released his first album for nearly 30 years



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