Loosen up. You're being disco deep. Borrow that guy's poppers. Join the herd
Saturday, the wee small hours, London's Fridge club. Fridge nothing: it's hot, damp, heaving. Men with waxed backs dance with beautiful boys with pierced nipples and popper bottles glued to their snub noses. Sex, drugs and ... an advance copy of Beautiful, the Blondie Remix album. Mr DJ plays all the hits - "Heart of Glass", "Rapture", "The Tide is High", "Hanging on the Telephone" et al - but not really the hits. Not as you recall. The original pop form - the onceunalterable fixed shape that fitted itself to memory - has been abandoned, save a hint of hook, a chorus, or whisper of ragtag rhythm. It has been surgically altered into something else. Quite what, I'm not sure. Something is ... missing in action.

But the music's too commanding, too incessant for contemplation, the strobe lights and lasers and press of flesh too distracting for thought. Dance dance dance the latest dance: trance in your pants.

The speakers - big audio dynamite - blast music that eventually identifies itself as "Union City Blues". Deborah Harry implores through her impossible pout: "Oh oh oh oh/what are we going to do?"

The man next to me knows what he's going to do. He puts on his sunglasses. Cool.

As I hit that perfect beat, I get it, or begin to. The Blondie remixes of their old songs sound like cover versions of themselves. Familiar but alien, because they now lack - or, more accurately, have renounced - not just their first incarnations, but also the times that I associate with those incarnations.

"Union City Blues": Chalk Farm, Nicholas moving in, summer on Primrose Hill, in love, Sunday in bed.

Only Blondie's cheap music has lost that personal potency, because it's another cheap music now, shrewdly extending its commercial shelf life and coming on hip to the point of dislocation. Canny. It's not like a "clean" cover - say Kylie's "Give Me Just A Little More Time" or Gloria's "Everlasting Love" or even Duran Duran's "White Lines" - which at least allow those who were there the first time around the smug satisfaction of cliche: "Not as good as the original." No, that's you flattering yourself, and the Blondie remixes usurp even that pleasure. They are indisputably from then but also triumphantly of now, so actually, like you, you fabulous with-it thing, they are not old(er), but still part of the loop, in touch, going on and on, living the moment, discarding the past.

I get it, I get it. The trouble with Harry is that the remixes aren't about remembering. They're about forgetting. Scratch that. What intrigues me is that they're about both.

The guy in sunglasses inhales another vapour trail of amyl nitrate, spins and steps on my baseball shoes (new and blue). Debbie sees all, knows all, moans her outrage: "Oh oh oh oh/what are we going to do?"

Remixes can recall and repel, just as one song (template might be a more exact word) can also, thanks to the studio boys, be about a radio edit, dub, trance, handbag, hardbag, jungle - name your genre. It's not like the dull old days when the first edition was automatically considered the definitive thing, an immutable reference point and a "standard" to be judged by. In those days covers were the only other interpretative method available, and they modestly declined to challenge the original (there are exceptions - Dionne's "Walk on By" or Aretha's "Walk on By").

But at least most covers offered you the artist's take on their jukebox selection - a view from abroad. The received wisdom about contemporary remixes is that they, too, explore nuance, that they dig and peel and doctor until a single tune gives up a multitude of different meanings. Yet, once the single tune has been made over (and over) and posted in various formats to its respective musical niches - a marketing word - the final products are usually devoid of any character.Formula beats flavour.

Loosen up. You're being disco deep. Borrow that guy's poppers. Feel the music. Join the herd.

Besides, why shouldn't there be a million remixes of the (not so) same old song?

There are release prints of movies, airline versions, TV and video versions, the Director's Cut and the Studio's Abortion. And how many productions of Hamlet have you seen? Too many, and, yes, they're essentially cover versions of a text - unless the National decides on three radically different productions with the same cast, one after another (hmm) - but each offered its individual gift. Music remixes are exactly the same.

Only ... only music is different. Not a set-apart experience like popping to the Warner West End or the Old Vic, but continuous, at home, at work, on the car radio, down the rave. It's the soundtrack of your life. It's adaptable in a way the others aren't; you remix it in your head to suit your circumstances and, then, it belongs to you. Until it doesn't.

So I pull out my poppers, move to the remix, past music in the present tense, feeling childishly betrayed. I spin right round baby right round and Debbie tells it like it is: "Once had a love/and it was a gas/soon turned out/had a Heart of Glass."

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