Back in the summer of 1987, I was excited that Cabaret Voltaire were about to release a new album, their first one on a major label. It was titled Code. And, lo and behold, it was also the first time you could get a CV album domestically (at any record store - it was on EMI Manhattan or something). And then... this. For those of you who never heard Code, it was, uh, instructive. My first shock was buying the import 12" single of Don't Argue and slapping it up on the turntable in my dorm room at Cal - Oh my God, what a shock. I mean, sure, previously CV had had vague nods towards what could generally be termed black music - James Brown and Digital Rasta come to mind - but this 12" had a full-on sassy black chick chorus singing backup. "No no no better watch / Better watch yourself boy" - oh my dear God, this wasn't the CV I'd come to love. I was afraid that when the CD came out it would be similarly horrible (I really don't enjoy women's voices in music, and this was just awful, coming from a CV record). Thankfully, no, the album itself didn't - I think - include the righteous diva vocals in the mix, and Code went on to eventually become my favorite CV album of all time. As you can imagine, I sold off the 12" single pretty quickly.
Well... it's back. The first track on the new CV compilation 'remixed' is exactly that 12" mix. And I'm still flabbergasted by the cheek of it. Was this supposed to be a mega smash crossover hit, taking dancefloors by storm all across the world? Could anyone actually take this seriously? "Cuz you're trying to drive with no / Hands on the wheel!" It's so ridiculous. Who was responsible for this? Was RH Kirk temporarily really high or did he just need the cash (or desire the wide release) so badly that he agreed to have anything and everything done to this music?
[As a postscript, a few years back, I was watching a tape of WWII propaganda movies, and the one from which the 'Don't argue with them', 'Don't clasp the hand', etc. samples came from was directed by none other than Ted Geisel, a/k/a Dr. Seuss himself. Go figure.]
[I would also like to nominate Hypnotized as the best hit single that never was.]