See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Motown Remixed

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Motown Remixed takes its cue from the Verve Remixed series, where oldie classics get a new, beat-driven makeover from today’s dance floor finest.

Difference is, of course, putting a funk beat under an old jazz standard is a no-lose situation; when it comes to Motown, these are funk classics. It ain’t broke so there ain’t nothin’ to fix. Which is why, for the most part, the remixers here assembled takes on Marvin, Smokey, The Temps and even funkier fare by the Undisputed Truth and Edwin Starr with more reverence than adventure. Hip-hop DJ Z-Trip, for instance, doesn’t do much more with the Jackson 5’s "I Want You Back" than throw a kickin’ breakbeat under it to make a surefire party record. Ditto for Salaam Remi’s "Crunk-A-Delic Party Mix" of the Jackson’s "ABC." Likewise, Roots drummer ?uestlove and James Poyser, recording as The Randy Watson Experience, softly update Gladys Knight and the Pips’ "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" — you can’t tell where the original leaves off and the new tracks begin.

At its best, though, MR introduces its classics into a new, powerful context. Groove Boutique’s Rafe Gomez and Dave Baron give Smokey Robinson’s "Quiet Storm" new life as a downtempo masterpiece, complete a fresh arrangement and all-live playing highlighted by vibist Roy Ayers’ solo. King Britt, meanwhile, gives Edwin Starr’s "War" a relentless, tribal undercarriage that upholds Fela Kuti’s honor and electrifies the song with relevance and a dope, dope beat. What is it good for? Absolutely everything — dancing, listening, pondering. Berry Gordy would be proud.

Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Hobey Echlin

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit