Doctor and the Medics – Spirit In The Sky (29th Anniversary Remix Package)
By Jay Martinez
As many of you 80s freaks probably have heard (and if you don’t know, you need to know), DOCTOR AND THE MEDICS are back! And better than ever.
If you don’t remember this awesomely colorful psychedelic/goth English band, you definitely remember their 1986 American radio hit ( number 1 in the UK).
I’m talking about “Spirit In The Sky”. A superb cover of Norman Greenbaum’s 60s original.
The original is good, and I also love Marilyn Peter Robinson’s silky smooth version. But it is DOCTOR AND THE MEDICS’ blistering version that is definitive, for me.
It came out at a time when I was becoming an alternative, visually eccentric person; and Clive Jackson (lead singer and “The Doctor”) had a huge influence on my eventual “look”.
He’s also responsible for that hole in the ozone layer. Can you say “hairspray”? Lol. Dude’s hair was taller than his body. Gloriously cool.
This was the era of “I gotta outdo the other weirdos”; the competition to be king freak was fierce. Looking plain or like anyone else WAS A SIN. Being accused of ripping off a fellow pop star, if proven- could end careers. This insatiable quest for uniqueness was WAR. I personally think Clive WON the war. Or maybe it was Pete Burns of DEAD OR ALIVE. Hmmm….
He was taking style cues from both KISS and post punk bands such as LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH. Along with GENE LOVES JEZEBEL, FLESH FOR LULU, and THE CURE-DOCTOR AND THE MEDICS helped define my life, trenchcoat attire, eye liner habit, and Aqua Net addiction for 2 years. What a great time that was! I miss it.
Ah. But I don’t have to miss it. Because Clive and the gang are back on the charts. With a “remix” of “Spirit In The Sky”.
And IT ROCKS.
There are several different remixes, but it is the PARRALOX radio mix that just hit number 1. Which I’m glad for, because of all the mixes, this is my favorite.
This is not a remix in the traditional sense; where a producer is given the ORIGINAL master tracks and has rearranged them.
No. This IS NOT the identical 1986 sound recordings. This is an entirely new rendition; a new RE-recording.
AND the results are FANTASTIC.
The song sounds invigorated. Modern. Yet retaining the right amount of “old school rock” authenticity of better days gone by.
My main pet peeve with remixes are that they so often strip away all instrumentation; every intricate riff; all detailed theory, and simply cover it in a “dunz dunz dunz dunz dunz” 4 on the floor techno kick beat. Recipe: Leave the vocals, remove music, put in stompy generic beat, add water, mix, repeat. Done. Instant remix!
Lazy, braindead bullshit. Soooo overdone and BORING. Just like, fuck off with that uninspired shit. RESPECT THE MUSIC! I’m happy to report that this mix does.
All the guitar riffs are intact. Buzzing, roaring, sounding dirty. Just like The Doc had it originally. It has balls. Sure, some sequencer synthz have been added to propel it to the dance floor, but they are a help to the song, not a hindrance. They don’t overpower it, and it’s RECOGNIZABLE as the song you know n love.
It sounds like a perfect mating of where the band has been, and where music today is going. It’s not become some Teletubbies kidz bop high school musical crap like the disappointing new Duran Duran stuff. You hear A BAND playing. Not just a producer turning knobs on a Korg drum machine.
Doc’s voice has matured. He now sounds relaxed, effortless. In the 80s, he had a more tense, strained sound. That gave an urgency and an edge to his delivery. It fit with the raw rock guitar sound. With the addition of the moody synths and dance beats in 2015, a more controlled performance works. The nuances in his very enjoyable tone really shine. The man is a great singer.
I suspect that the new found confidance and swagger in his singing stems from working with Barbara Sobel. She is promoting his new stuff, and the chemistry obviously works. You can hear the contentment. After the industry ignoring you for 30 years, there is a reason to be suddenly thrust back into the spotlight. Good musical work, and good promotion. One is nothing without the other.
DOCTOR AND THE MEDICS are a buzz band right now. The interest and curiosity is steadily building. Among musicians, DJs, and booking agents. It has got to feel satisfying building up your career on nothing but music. No gimmicks or jumping trends. No guest stars. No $300,000 a track producers. No paid for articles. THIS is how a “comeback” ( hate the term) is launched. No dreams of yachts n fame-just a love to perform. True intentions always show.
I am lucky to have heard some brand new, unreleased DOCTOR AND THE MEDICS ORIGINAL music. And it’s SPECTACULAR. Clive’s voice is soaring. I loved the songs instantly. No brainwashing myself to like dog shit due to loyalty.
I wish them every success.
But for now, check out the 2015 version of “Spirit In The Sky”. It’s very cool.