Remix and rarities collections often offer a unique portrait of a pop star’s career. Such is the case with the workmanlike Remixes and Rarities, a two-disc collection that offers two and a half hours’ worth of alternate history for 80s pop crooner Paul Young. Best known in America for his 1986 Adult Contemporary smash “Every Time You Go Away,” his modest US success didn’t represent his worldwide stardom. Surprisingly, this collection isn’t nearly as repetitive as one might fear; only two songs are repeated, but they differ just enough not to be superfluous.
Taking the backdoor approach to Young’s legacy serves him well. Unlike most remixes of the era, Young’s producers ensured top quality in all things Paul. (The cynical might suggest that this particular compiler weeded out the crap, but let’s not fuss over that.) Thus, the extended version of his signature hit adds a lulling string arrangement that builds up to the song’s recognizable piano line. It’s a deft, subtle work of art that enhances an already excellent song. Lesser known songs such as “Tomb of Memories” and “Come Back and Stay” accentuate the groove, with Young’s vocals working together with the beat, resulting in a pleasurable experience. Great is the quality of Young’s rich voice, even the songs that don’t work (witness a divisive cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”) really aren’t bad. Lest one think that Young was merely a studio phenomenon, live tracks prove otherwise–especially the hot and heavy nine minute Prince-style funk groove of “Oh Women.”
Pop careers are peculiar things, often loaded with dreadful filler offered simply to milk the fans’ love and devotion. Remixes & Rarities shows that, at least for the 155 minutes offered here, Paul Young avoided that trap.