MAY 27, 2017
“THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG (THIEVERY CORPORATION REMIX)” (WRITER: JOHN LYDON—KEITH LEVENE—MARTIN ATKINS)
ARTIST: NOUVELLE VAGUE
RELEASED 2006 ON VERSIONS CD
When you get right down to it, nothing seems weird anymore. Especially not an abrasive 1983 postpunk song by Public Image Ltd. being covered by a French bossa nova ensemble in 2004 then remixed two years later by a pair of Washington, D.C. DJs into a trippy drone with Indian sitar, tanpura, and tabla.
John Lydon’s aggressive, defiant “This is Not a Love Song,” a refusal to remain poor while music industry money floats around him, was reimagined two decades later by Nouvelle Vague into a slinky declaration of self-control and power. But this isn’t a case of simply replacing PiL’s “difficult” sounds with something more “smooth”; singer Melanie Pain (one of several vocalists NV used) purposely pitched her vocals flat in the best Brazilian tradition.
When looped, lengthened, and dipped into a languid, liquid new setting in 2006 by Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, the already discombobulated track lost even more of its original intent, floating freer of context and more into the realm of pure, shimmering, enveloping sound.
Over the years, Thievery Corporation has proven itself outstanding at two things: compiling tracks from various artists (an ability best heard on DJ Kicks and The Outernational Sound) and remixing others’ material.
The CD Versions, a terrific example of the second skill, recontextualizes artists as disparate as The Doors, Bebel Gilberto, Herb Alpert, Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, and Ben Folds using funk, downtempo, and lounge beats, odd samples, and Indian, Brazilian, and Jamaican settings. “This is Not a Love Song” is the most audacious of these remixes, but not the only great one.