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LABEL: Flashback RELEASE DATE: December 19, 2011 GENRE: Electro House
// review by Jeff

Wonder how many people burned this song...

Ferry Corsten's been in the business longer than I even knew the "business" existed. The Rotterdam native has created countless trance classics and helped shape and develop the genre as it was reaching new heights in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Though fellow compatriots of trance have seemingly branched out into a more mainstream sound, you can always count on Ferry Corsten to remain true to the evolution of trance without feeling at all stale. Yet sometimes it's good to dabble in new sounds, new trends, as he did way back in 2002 with Punk, a pure electro heavy hitter that was so radically different from his usual output that he used the pseudonym "Funk Einsatz" on it first before proclaiming it as his own. The trend of shuffling to an electro sound continued into his 2006 album, "L.E.F.", and the leading single from that album, "Fire".

In the effort to be a completionist, we'll be looking at the 10-track re-release from 2011, basically covering all the official mixes of the track. But for the bare basics, starting off with the Radio Edit isn't a bad idea. The Radio Edit wastes no time in getting to the meat of the song, blaring its signature warm synths your way before introducing the "Fire" sample, a vocal clip from Duran Duran's 1990 song, "Serious". Interestingly enough, lead singer Simon LeBon actually re-recorded his vocals specifically for this track. There are only two lines, repeated ad nauseum throughout the song: "Oh woman, you make me feel... Like I'm on fire..." and "Oh woman, you make it real... It's the only way for me." Aside from a few funky squelches (which had often been one of Corsten's signature electro sounds for several years at that point), however, there isn't a lot of variety to be found in Fire; frankly, once you've heard the first minute, you've heard the second and the third. Likewise with the Extended (yes, it's not a mix, just an "extended"), the flair really only lasts for a short time before it wears off. That's the main problem I had even a decade ago: once you've heard it a couple of times, you're good — and you end up skipping it every time it pops up on the iPod.

Ferry then sprinkled a little dust over the track and made the Flashover Mix, named after his new label, Flashover Recordings. This version has a stronger focus on trance pads and muffled guitar-like synths and less on the electro aspect of its host material, resulting in a more varied and non-repetitive experience that doesn't leave half as much wear and tear on the ears as the original. The Flashover Mix is far more easily revisitable and worth your time.

Fire also picked up a few remixes. First is the Ron van den Beuken Remix, obviously performed by Ron van den Beuken, whose major peak was 2003's "Timeless" and his subsequent remix of Coldplay's "Clocks" as its own song under his Clokx alias. Offering a more bubbling-under-the-surface bass-laden introduction, the main coup de force here is van den Beuken's ever-so-fuzzy simple yet new melody halfway through the mix that gives the tune a whole different flavour entirely. For fans of trance and hard dance alike, this could be a defining mix in the collection.

Meanwhile, the Bush II Bush Vocal Remix offers up a housier affair, fixating on a VERY forward bassline before eventually introducing the original's hook chords and LeBon's vocals. There's a backing electro pad, but it's fairly subdued and a bit out of place, to be honest. Bush II Bush's take is not as polished as other tracks here, and that fact sticks out like a sore nose. There's also the Bush II Bush Instrumental Mix, which, as you can guess, eliminates the vocals but still leaves you with that goofy upfront bassline.

A vocal-free version of the extended mix is also on offer in the Dub Mix, if you're looking for some Ferry Corsten karaoke (or "Ferry-aoke", as I have now coined it). But the last new mix on display is the Robbie Rivera Remix. Wasting no time in throwing an attractive beat our way, Robbie goes right for the jugular with a new filtered guitar pad that really doesn't match the vocals at all. The harmony's surprisingly off, and it's just awkward. It isn't until the halfway point where he just throws his arms in the air and says, "Y'know what? Let's just add Ferry's original hook and roll with it." And it simply is a mess of audio. Skip it. Just skip it. Did anyone LISTEN to this first? No one had the guts to say, "Hey, uh... my cat has coughed up better sounds than this?"

Rounding out the package are edits of the Robbie Rivera Remix and the Flashover Mix. The Flashover Mix Edit is good for trance-goers on a time budget; the Robbie Rivera Remix Edit is good for people who enjoy migraines.

Ferry Corsten has composed so many great tracks, but Fire is far from his finest moment. Even though some remixes, particularly his own Flashover Mix, try to salvage the otherwise repetitive choker of a track, I'm ultimately disappointed by the entire package as a whole. And it doesn't help that Robbie Rivera left his ears in another city when creating his musical cacophony. Certain songs here are worth your time; others are worth a visit from the steamroller.


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