Really, this isn’t a remix album at all. More like a complete rebuild, using scraps of timber, radically rearranged bricks and a few familiar pieces of furniture.
In John Van Eps’ hands, age-old Chicago songs like “25 or 6 to 4,” “Beginnings,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” and “Saturday in the Park” aren’t just transformed with a big beat, they’re pulled apart and put back together again — sometimes in radically different ways. And yeah, there’s also a big beat.
Lamm first worked with Van Eps when the producer participated in a remix project for Lamm’s 2008 solo effort The Bossa Nova Project. That sparked the idea of working together to transform a series of Chicago songs — but, when the rest of the group seemed less interested, The JVE Remixes became Lamm’s latest release, due on June 1, 2012 from Blue Infinity/Chicago Records II. A trio of Lamm solo songs also appear (“You’re My Sunshine Every Day” and “It’s a Groove, This Life” from 2003’s Subtlety and Passion; and “On The Equinox,” from his current release Living Proof), but being as these are the less well-known tracks, they simply can’t match the eye-popping surprises found elsewhere.
It starts, appropriately enough, with “Beginnings.” Applying an angular, grinding new rhythm, Van Eps then feeds Lamm’s voice through what sounds like an underwater blender. “Saturday In The Park” takes the song’s most familiar elements — bleeps of brass, the line: “change the world” — and tosses them up in the air like a jigsaw puzzle. Van Eps then uses the single word “time” as a counterpoint for his sleek, new-look “Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?” Meanwhile, “Questions 67 and 68″ takes on this spacious smooth-jazz groove. “25 or 6 to 4″ is reimagined as a tangy salsa, becoming at first almost unrecognizable, then returns with Terry Kath’s familiar thrumming riff again at its center for a second remix.
Is this going to draw fans from the electronica crowd into the Chicago catalog? Hard to say. Piss off the old fans? Likely. Either way, Lamm is ready to shake things up — something that’s desperately needed for a group that appears to have lost its way creatively.
‘The JVE Remixes’ is available for purchase through Robert Lamm’s Web site.