From the "if it ain't broke, don't break it" school of thought come the remixes of "The Right Life," the second single from Seal's latest album "System," and the follow-up to his gorgeous number one single "Amazing."
The Stuart Price-produced album version of "The Right Life" flows through the same dreamily hazy vein as its predecessor, but this one comes off as a little more effortless, a little more refined, a little more "amazing." Perhaps it's even better than anything on the impressive "Confessions On A Dancefloor" album he produced for Madonna a few years back. (For those of you whose jaws drop at that remark, let's just call this Seal's "Get Together" and move on). One listen to the original version from "System" incited a friend of mine who isn't terribly musically literate to cry out, "Listen to those gorgeous chord changes!" And she was right - those chords are absolutely stunning, as are the hypnotic vocal loops, delicate atmospheric flourishes, and, of course, Seal's always impeccable lyrics and delivery. For an album version this is one highly dancefloor-ready gem, made even more so by the perfectly executed "Extended Original Mix" by DJ ZAX, who graciously provides a seamless intro and outro to enhance the original's undeniable mixability.
So it was with excitement and trepidation that I approached the remixes - three from Eddie Amador, one from ROCAsound, and one from Tiesto. And perhaps it comes as no real surprise that the mixes that succeed keep elements from the original intact, while the ones that fail seem too eager to stray from what was already near-perfection. Two of Eddie Amador's are completely unnecessary. His "All About Seal Remix" wastes over five minutes on an aimless journey through some faroff galaxy's murky ozone layer, occasionally throwing in Seal's vocals and a muted thudding of a metronomic beat so we don't get too lost. Then at the 5:30 mark, an actual beat FINALLY comes in with a too-little-too-late electro bassline accompanied by one repeated lyric and cheesy 80s handclaps. Um, wha...? Eddie's "Back Room Remix" is also a dud, placing the full vocal track atop a snooze-inducing house beat with an unflatteringly repetitive bassline. This song could have inspired a gorgeous house mix, but this is definitely not it. Finally, Eddie's "USA Club Mix" succeeds where his other two failed, if only because it's basically a speed-through of the album version. It's definitely the best of Eddie's batch, and this is but a minor Paula Abdulesque complaint, but it feels as though he could have done a little more with it to really make it shine. Maybe he was too busy throwing handclaps in his "All About Seal Remix" or napping through his "Back Room Remix" to tweak his "USA Club Mix."
ROCAsound reimagines the song as a driving-yet-low-key electro disco twirler. This version somehow seems to keep the intent of the original version in focus, even though the arrangement has been completely reworked around a whole new chord structure. It's a potentially risky experiment that yields a delightfully trippy, highly danceable result. But the best of the batch is the mix by Tiesto, who fortunately avoids going the easy route and turning this song into a trance cliche. He merely adds an irresistibly solid beat, some light-trance synths, and a rubbery bassline which complement and echo the elements of the original version perfectly. In showing restraint, Tiesto manages to elevate the song to a whole new level, somehow improving on what was already so "right." Bravo!