Let me start off today’s article by wishing everyone reading this a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping that 2017 will be filled with peace and joy for each and every one of us, and that we’ll finally get that long awaited new U2 record. Two years ago, I wrote an article on the song that would be most appropriate for today, U2’s first international hit single, “New Year’s Day” (see here). Having already covered my first choice of topic for today’s holiday, I had to choose something a little different for the start of this new year, 2017. I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at a remix of the U2 classic, a song from 2001 by British dance group Musique, “New Year’s Dub”.
For those who don’t know, a “dub”, as mentioned in the title, is a danceable instrumental (or mostly instrumental) version of a previously recorded track. The term originated in Jamaica in the 1960’s as artists like Lee “Scratch” Perry began remixing popular reggae cuts for the dance halls. To make these new versions, producers would remove most of the vocals and add reverb and echo to what remained, often emphasizing the drums and bass parts of the originals, creating entirely new songs in the process. This is essentially the process that Musique performed on New Year’s Day – they removed Bono’s original vocal, added a new electronic drum part and some further samples, and mixed it all together in a new song called “New Year’s Dub”. Their remix started attracting notice as Musique played it in clubs around the world, and everything came to a head when Musique attended the Miami Winter Music Conference in March of 2001.
U2 were in Miami preparing for the first shows of their Elevation Tour, and the two musical groups got together to hammer out a deal that would allow Musique to commercially release their remix. The video for “New Year’s Dub” was filmed during this period, and in a demonstration of the blessing the senior band had given for this single to be released, all four members of U2 appeared in that video, interacting with the British musicians who were responsible for the remix. The video also included shots of Musique driving down the road and DJ’ing in a dance club.
Several singles were released for “New Year’s Dub”, and quite a few remixes of Musique’s original version were included across the spectrum of these releases. My personal favorite is the “Mauro Picotto Club Mix” which splices the same sample from “New Year’s Day” with a frenetic drum and bass coupling that should produce a good workout if you’re in the club dancing to it. None of these “New Year’s Dub” remixes should be confused with the Ferry Corsten remixes of “New Year’s Day” which were initially released only on a promotional CD in late 1999. Years later, in 2008, some of the Ferry Corsten mixes (two that weren’t included on the first promo disc) were finally commercially released on the two disc version of the War remaster package.