Release Date: September 16th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Overcomer (Capital Kings Remix)
- Back To You (Neon Feather Remix)
- Joy Unspeakable (ATELLAGALI Remix)
- Good Morning (Capital Kings Remix)
- What If We Were Real (NEVA Remix)
- Stronger (Movin’ Remix)
- My Deliverer (RawlsCO Remix)
- Shackles (Switch Remix)
- Waiting For Tomorrow (Silver Remix)
- Only the World (Switch Remix)
- Press On (CB Ultra Run Remix)
Remix albums, if not recorded properly, are a bit of a mixed bag for me. An artist can completely reinvent songs, and an album can be enhanced or the sentimental value completely destroyed (sometimes on different songs within the same album!), depending on the mixes, and the tempo of the ‘new and improved’ tracks. This is why over the years I have been a bit indifferent to remix albums, with only Newsboys Remixed (2002), Avalon’s O2 Remixed (2002), Zoegirl’s Mix Of Life (2002), and Newsboys’ Go Remixed (2007) standing out from 2001-2011. This year however, remix albums are quite ingenious, creative and daring, with Jesus Culture, Hillsong United, Capital Kings, Everfound and Amy Grant all unveiling competent, captivating and inspiring new versions of their hit melodies and fan favourites.
Now, in just over a couple of weeks, on September 16th, Mandisa, of the many success stories that has originated from the reality TV show American Idol, and fresh off the heels of her 5 Dove Award nominations, and her most successful album in her career to date; offers up her first full length remix album, titled Get Up: The Remixes featuring eleven of her most compelling and catchy melodies, the songs that most people connect and resonate with, from each of her 4 studio albums, including the current single “Back To You” and the title track of her most recent 2013 album. What has resulted is a groovy, danceable, unique and fun playlist that doesn’t obstruct the musical integrity and lyrical genius of the original tracks, while also breathing new life into these top songs!
Though I would have probably preferred to hear more newer tracks (7 out of the 11 songs were either featured on the Remixed: Get Movin’ EP in 2012, or the deluxe edition of Overcomer in 2013), the familiarity brings with it comfort and enjoyment as I can relate to these remixes and understand them because I have been exposed to them more and more through last year and this year. In “Stronger”, Mandisa’s voice is quickened and put at the forefront of a backdrop of Super Nintendo and Gameboy sounds, as she emphatically and ardently cries out ‘…when the waves are taking you under, hold on just a little bit longer, you know this is gonna make you stronger, stronger, the pain ain’t gonna last forever, in time it’s gonna get better…’. A wonderful remix that lifts me off my feet to dance; there are many electronic effects inclusive of distortion in the vocals. This “Movin’ Remix” of this track is very ingenious, and the uplifting message of troubles in this world making us stronger is still intact.
“My Deliverer” is given a Latin/Caribbean/regae/R&B twist, and this now piano heavy track has enhanced what is a fan favourite from Mandisa’s 2009 album, Freedom. Usually, a great remix should make one forget about the fact that it is a remix- you should just love the music for what it is, and “My Deliverer” does that to perfection as we praise God for who He is! I can certainly cry out ‘…my Deliverer, You rescued me, from all that held me captive…You set me free, now I’m alive and I can live, so every moment I will give you praise…’.
Capital Kings remixed their own version of “Overcomer”, which turns out to be very unique and creative (however I like the original studio version better, but this is good too), with the duo implementing their electronic bass loops and signature pace and pitch alterations. It’s great that the vocals weren’t distorted though, as this song demands Mandisa’s sublime voice to be preserved as we sing along about being overcomers in Christ, that ‘…the same man, the Great I Am, the One who overcame death; He’s living inside of You, so just hold tight, fix your eyes, on the One who holds your life; there’s nothing He can’t do…’. The remix version of “Press On”, maybe prophetically titled “CB Ultra Run Remix”, transforms the pop uplifter into an electronic dance anthem fit for encouragement- it’s remixes like these that I love, as “Press On” was enhanced greatly! Speaking about running the race that God has prepared for us, without looking back or to the side; Mandisa calls this her running song; the lyrics of ‘…I will follow, I will press on, even when the walk feels long, your hands will hold me together, your love is with me forever..’ being sure to encourage and uplift even those in the toughest places of their lives.
“Good Morning”, which features TobyMac, is given the biggest makeover, with layers of synth and reverb on the vocals present on this track, and distortion on the music. “Capital Kings Remix” is a slow paced dance track, and this one reminds me of the longer remix tracks in Newsboys’ 2002 album, with the makeup of the verses and the chorus turned on its head and given a redefinition. Mandisa certainly made a bold move on this popular tune, and the ‘no fear’ vibe is very commendable. While “Only The World”, Mandisa’s first single from the 2007’s True Beauty; is given the quick treatment, and with pounding drum beats, hand claps and the sound of a cheering crowd in the bridge, and added backing vocals (from Mandisa?) in this improved version; “Switch Mix” is a step up from the near flawless original. The message of life on Earth being temporary and heaven being our permanent home is also all the more powerful. And the final recognisable remix “Shackles” is an odd choice for a remix, and feels a tad out of place in the midst of original material, considering there were plenty of other upbeat tracks to choose from, inclusive of “Dance, Dance, Dance”, “What If We Were Real”, “Temporary Fills” and “Free”. Nevertheless, “Shackles” is a fun track to bring out on a dance party; with the vertical worship themed track being all the more so as shown in the added bridge where Mandisa sings out ‘…I’m gonna praise You…’ a few times. Though at first glance, on an album full of originals, this song may not fit on this album as well as the others; after a few listens, this version has grown a bit more on me.
For me the newer 4 tracks change this album from good to great. “Back To You”, the current single, is bright and sunny, and is driven but keys and light programming, and later moves into a full on dance club mix that feels right at home on something Owl City would record. Very experimental, inclusive of a synth solo in between the chorus and the verses, as well as a shortened bridge and last chorus; the song reminding us that everything we have in life is God’s and the only thing left to do is to thank Him and be grateful, has definitely resonated with fans, with the remix set to only enhance the popularity of the song in my opinion. While “Joy Unspeakable” isn’t altered that much- the electronic dubstep remix type track, with plenty of instrumental synth solos for us to dance and move our feet, shows Mandisa at her highest creatively, as the song speaks about how our joy for God pleases Him immensely; and “Waiting For Tomorrow” is more subdued, with finger clicks and a r&b/reggae beat driving the track, and relaying to us that we shouldn’t wait for tomorrow to do the things we want to do and can do today; it is “What If We Were Real” that really grabs my attention.
The title track of the 2011 album, there’s plenty of musical distortion of the instruments such as guitars and keys, as well as the introduction of loops and remix-y effects, yet the message of the song that we need to try to be as real as can be to everyone we meet than a different version of ourselves to a different group of friends or acquaintances; is kept intact. Sounding busy yet calm at the same time (if that is indeed possible!), the musically chaotic yet most authentically and musically preserved track on the album is the diamond in the rough- the song that makes me want to listen to this album again and again. Well done Mandisa for reminding us through these 11 tracks what worship sounds like even when it is remixed!
While the only problem I can pick out on Get Up: The Remixes is that there weren’t many ‘new’ remixes (only 4), and that 11 tracks is far too short for a vibrant and inspiring career like Mandisa’s (why no slower ballads like “He Is With You”, “The Truth About Me”, “Not Guilty”, “Broken Hallelujah”, “Dear John”, “The Difference” or “Just Cry”?); Mandisa has a stellar and gorgeous voice, and this full length remix album more than highlights her stunning vocal ability. With a new studio album probably on its way in 2015 or 2016; Mandisa is sure to excel in her craft as time goes on, and is sure to find new fans through her studio and remix albums. One of the artists that I most respect because of her strong faith in Jesus; this is definitely my favourite remix albums of the year! Well done, Mandisa, I look forward to your next full studio album hopefully sometime soon!
3 songs to listen to: What If We Were Real, My Deliverer, Back To You
RIYL: Britt Nicole, TobyMac, Group1 Crew, Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline