Rock artists get reinvented

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Maroon 5 Call and Response: The Remix Album A&M Records

Given the number of genres platinum-selling group Maroon 5 straddles for their sound (i. e. pop, rock, R&B, funk) and the fact that they take a few years between proper studio albums, it’s not surprising that they decided to take the remix route for their latest release. Especially since singer Adam Levine’s voice is so versatile.

“Call and Response” gives a number of high-profile, hip artists a crack at remixing and reconstructing some of the band’s biggest hits. And while the collection proves interesting, there are some definite surprises (and a few letdowns) to be found on this collection.

The songs get points for stretching Maroon 5’s sound in so many directions, many of which make the band more appealing than they are in their natural state. Swizz Beats injects a hip-hop-infused Justin Timberlake-like swagger to their remix of “If I Never See Your Face Again.” But adding hip-hop to Maroon 5 has its limits. The band doesn’t go gangsta very well and David Banner’s remix of “Wake Up Call” proves it.

Maroon 5 can pull off retro soul, judging from Questlove’s tasteful take on “Sunday Morning,” Phantom Planet’s spacey mix of “Woman” and DJ Quik’s stripped-down-funk version of “Shiver.”

The new R&B-style remixes sometimes fall short, though. Pharrell’s “She Will Be Loved” just doesn’t catch fire; neither does Just Blaze’s mix of “Make Me Wonder.”

Ultimately, it’s the more adventurous electronic remixes that shine the brightest on this collection. Bloodshy & Avant give a bratty Daft Punk-like energy to their mix of “Little of Your Time.” Of Montreal goes noisy techno crazy with its excellently brash version of the same track. Tiesto does an excellent pumping remix of “Not Falling Apart.” Cut Copy transforms “This Love” into a monster club track. Paul Oakenfold brings Rihanna into the mix for a stellar version of “If I Never See Your Face Again” that is sure to be filling dance floors.

Over all, “Call and Response” is a worthwhile effort. There’s enough crazy eccentricity to pull in listeners who otherwise might not be into the group while keeping the band’s core fans happy.

William Control Hate Culture Victory Records

William Control is the alter ego of William Francis, vocalist for the punk/hardcore/alternative rock group Aiden, and apparently he’s a cocky little bastard. Why else would he kick off his CD exuding nicotine-laced bravado by reciting the prologue to Stephen Jeffreys’ “The Libertine”? If anything, it writes a check for an implied sonic experience that sometimes just doesn’t deliver.

Fortunately for Mr. Control, he appropriates enough of the vibe from Depeche Mode’s “Black Celebration” and The Cure’s “Disintegration” albums to make up for his rather clichéd lyrics. Not to imply that “Hate Culture” is anywhere near as good as either of those albums.

Sometimes he tries too hard. Songs like “Beautiful Loser” and “Damned” almost sink under the weight of the lyrics, which read like the cheesiest of goth poetry that one can only hear while waiting in line to see “Twilight.” “The Whipping Huas,” with its S&M samples, sounds even more forced and is more of a distraction than anything else.

Yeah, we get it. You’re a naughty little misanthropic deviant with a death fetish. But you still have to be better than those hundreds of others like you.

If you can get past those tracks, there is some promise to be found. “Cemetery” is the most accessible song on the album, with a polished new-wave sound reminiscent of early Billy Idol. “Tranquilize,” “Strangers” and the title track have enough dark electronic authenticity to appeal to the fishnet-and-black-lipstick-wearing, clove-cigarette-smoking set that occupies Shampoo on Wednesday nights.

The closing track, “London Town,” breaks away from the formula of the rest of the album to deliver a somber acoustic guitar- and violin-driven track that might just be the best song on the album. But be warned: You might want to skip the disturbing phone call that follows three-and-a-half minutes after the song ends.

Larry Nichols can be reached at [email protected]