Playgroup is the punk disco group formed by the head of Output Records, Trevor Jackson.
In the Winter of 2001 he released a self-titled full length that has had incredible lasting power in a world when last month's sounds seem almost unlistenable. The Playgroup record has such staying power that it was only released in the US last year, and is due for new attention through a soon-to-be-released limited version on Output with a bonus remix CD (I will want one of them!).
What we are holding in our hands today is the second coming of the debut single from Playgroup. Make It Happen features Kyra from Thee Headcoatees / The Delmonas on vocals. It is a great track that almost anyone could enjoy.
Spread between these two 12inch singles are six new versions of the track. You might wonder why we need six new versions. The reason is that many of us love this song but are quite tired of it (along with the equally great Playgroup song Bring It On). These new versions bring enough new elements to the track that you can rediscover the song all over again.
There is a CD version, but it leaves out too much for me to choose it. the CD version only has the album version of the song, the Zongamin remix, the Soulwax remix, and a video directed by Trevor Jackson. The leaves out the very nice extended version, the two Ewan Pearson mixes, and the Midnight Mike (of Sonovac) mix. This set of singles is the second release on the new Output subsidiary Playgroup Recordings. The first release was a 12inch that had remixes of Bring It On and Front 2 Back.
The first 12inch has two mixes by Ewan Pearson on the A-side - one with vocals, one instrumental. Ewan Pearson is a Londoner who records as Maas for Soma Records, and in collaboration with Ivan Smagghe. Ewan's mixes have a danceclub techno sound that no other Playgroup recordings have had so far. The vocal version sounds odd, with Kyra's pop vocal melded to a techno track and the sax part that always reminded me of the song Who Could It Be Now? by 80s Australian group Men At Work. The instrumental version succeeds nicely. The track has stylistic continuity and works perfectly as a whole. Make It Happen is successfully reinvented.
On the flip, Japanese artist Zongamin gives us a long remix that includes vocals - something his own material seldom has. Zongamin has become very popular through his self-titled full length on XL. The mix he has given Trevor Jackson should only get him more fans. He cuts up Kyra's vocals and gives them space. The light bouncy beat he reassembles her role call of body parts into makes the song almost irresistible. He also throws in some disco raygun sounds and vocoder voice treatments.
Opening up the second 12inch we have Trevor Jackson adding a few beats and a few minutes to Mark 'Spike' Stent's original mix. The original mix was distilled to crystalline purity. The extra new parts do not weight the track down. There is a bongo break inserted into the regular portion of the song, then several extra minutes to enjoy the beat, driven by a bass part right out of the Jah Wobble PIL songbook.
The B-side has my favorite mixes. Soulwax have become almost untouchable favorites of mine through the many volumes of 2 many dj's and hang all dj's CDs. I also love the remix they did on the second disc of the 'Colette No. 4' compilation for the Paris fashion house Colette. For Make It Happen these 2 brothers from Belgium (Stephen and David) found a rock song I can't identify and created something new that achieves far greater life than novelty. Kyra's voice is subverted into the song Soulwax selected as its new bed. Make It Happen becomes a mirror world hit - the Soulwax version is just as enticing as the original, yet completely different in every way (except the vocal).
The 12inch closes out with Midnight Mike's mix. Midnight Mike is half of the Output Recordings duo Sonovac. Sonovac have put out many amazing releases, including a full length, a version of The Cramps Human Fly, and my favorite version of the Black Strobe song Innerstrings. Midnight Mike may be known to you through his song Round and Around, which has shown up on compilations such of Nettwerk's 'Electro Kills' and Neutron's 'Electric Pop.' Midnight Mike's version of Make It Happen is the most traditional of the mixes - he does not seriously rewrite the code - but it is enjoyable, and the most 'electroclash' of the mixes offered here.
A strong set of platters containing tracks that a Playgroup fan will want to hear.