The Junior Vasquez Post You Didn't Know You Needed
January 31, 2016 10:37 AM   Subscribe

1983: Donald Mattern releases his first remix, a 12" for Kid Nice's song "Keep Dreaming". It was the inauspicious birth of a phenomenon who would dominate house music remixes for decades -- Junior Vasquez. Join me for a chronological and selective journey through his remix career, won't you? As the years go by, witness the evolution of synth technology, remix philosophy, and house and dance music.

Junior's next remix release wouldn't appear until 1987, with Jack E Makossa's "The Opera House", but the intervening 4 years had apparently taught Junior a lot and brought him a long way toward what would be his signature style. Lengthening the track by repeating phrases, adding moody keyboards, and changing the track to suit his own house dance sensibilities. 1987 was a launch pad year for Junior, featuring remixes for many artists, but it was probably the work he did with Club Noveau's Heavy On My Mind (here featuring the Dub Mix) that really got ears to perk up.

He remixed Yello's Tied Up (In Africa) [also Part II] in 1988, and soon he was working magic for Janet Jackson (State Of The World) [unavailable], MC Hammer (Pray - Slam The Hammer Mix), and finally ended up working as a producer for Prince for Tevin Campbell's contribution to Graffiti Bridge, Round And Round.

That same year, 1990, he reworked John Lennon's Love for The Dream Academy (Dream House Mix), worked a couple more remixes for Prince (none of which are available), and did Technotronic's Take It Slow (Fab Bibulous Mix). When Queen's Jazz album was reissued in 1991, he was tapped to do a remix of Bicycle Race [one of his more psychedelic remixes, I do admit]. Soon afterward, he remixed Cher's Love And Understanding several times for an EP, here is the Love And Understand 12" Dance Mix.

1991 continued to be a busy year for Junior. He created the Siouxsie And The Banshees - Fear (Of The Unknown) (Vertigo Mix), Paula Abdul - Promise Of A New Day West Coast 12", and it is also the first year he worked with Madonna, contributing "X-tra Bits" [by which I think she means, did the entire remix] to Rescue Me (Houseboat Vocal), an artist who would tap him repeatedly for remixes for many years to come.

By 1992, Junior's remixing skills were causing him to be called from far afield. Witness the fascinating dance remake John Mellencamp - Love And Happiness (La Rock Dance Mix). Or 1993's entirely fun and moody house track Girls Just Want To Have Fun, a Cyndi Lauper remix. At this point we are a decade into Junior's remixing career, and we are barely getting started.

1994. Pet Shop Boys - Yesterday When I Was Mad (Junior Vasquez Factory Dub) [in which Junior NEARLY does a modern needle drop]. Madonna - Secret (Junior's Sound Factory Mix). [By this point, Junior Vasquez was an in-demand DJ alongside a remix producer, and he had been spinning at NYC's legendary Sound Factory (RIP) for quite a while.] [This is a track in which Junior DOES do the equivalent of a modern needle drop, over 20 years ago.] Alison "Alf" Moyet - Ode To Boy (Factory Mix).

By 1995, Junior was remixing Elton John's Made In England (Junior's Sound Factory Mix), Ace Of Base's Beautiful Life (Circuit Bump Mix), Janet Jackson's Runaway (Junior's Factory Remix), Madonna's Bedtime Story (Junior's Sound Factory Mix), Tom Jones' She's A Lady (Extended Mix), k.d. lang - If I Were You (Main Mix), Paula Abdul - My Love Is For Real (Junior Vasquez Soundfactory Remix), Annie Lennox - No More "I Love You's" (Junior's Club Mix)... *whew, pant, wheeze* that isn't even half of what Junior did that year for remixes...

And Junior's remixing continued to be in demand in 1996, working with Cher - One By One (Junior Vasquez Club Vocal Mix), Spice Girls - Say You'll Be There (Junior's Main Pass), Whitney Houston - Step By Step (Junior's Arena Anthem), and Gloria Estefan - Higher (Junior's 12" Club Mix). 1996 was also the year when Junior burned a few bridges, with his release of his original track If Madonna Calls (Jr's House Mix), reported to have been created after Madge didn't show up for a club performance where Junior was spinning.

All that Madonna stuff notwithstanding, 1996 continued to be a VERY busy year for Junior Vasquez. He remixed Everything But The Girl - Missing (Junior Vasquez Remix) and Jars Of Clay - Flood (Remix). By 1997 he was working with Lisa Stansfield - Never Gonna Fall (Junior's Return To 27th & 10th Anthem), and he even remixed Michael Jackson - Off The Wall (Junior Vasquez Remix).

1997 also included remixes for David Bowie - Little Wonder (Junior Vasquez Club Mix), Dolly Parton - Peace Train (Junior's Arena Anthem) [a true favorite of mine, a complete reimagining of the original track that elevates and magnifies], and Rickie Lee Jones - Living It Up (Junior Vasquez Arena Anthem).

Junior continued his intense remix schedule through 1998 into 1999, including remixes for Kylie - Too Far (Junior Vasquez Remix), AQUA - Cartoon Heroes (Junior's Playground Mix), Whitney Houston - I Learned From the Best (Junior Vasquez Disco Mix), Mariah Carey - Heartbreaker/"If You Should Ever Be Lonely" (Junior's Heartbreaker Club Mix), Shannon - Let The Music Play (J. Vasquez X-Beat Mix) [a particularly involving mix], and Soul Seekers - Nowhere Love (The Junior Vasquez Remix).

As 1999 continued, Junior reworked two classic Whitney tracks - I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Junior's Happy Hand Bag Mix) and How Will I Know (Junior Vasquez Club Mix), two particularly joyous remixes of beloved tracks. And in 2000, he tackled a third Whitney standard with Greatest Love Of All (Junior Vasquez Club Mix).

Also in 2000, remixes of Ace Of Base - Beautiful Life (Junior Vasquez Circuit Bump Mix), Mary J. Blige - Your Child (Junior Vasquez Marython Mix), Amber - This Is Your Night (Junior Vasquez Sunday Night Bump Extended Mix), and the Elton John classic Your Song (Junior Vasquez Remix) were released.

The retro kick continued for Junior, with 2001 seeing the release of Elton John - Rocket Man (Junior Vasquez Arena Club Mix) and but also [then] new artists like Nelly Furtado - I'm Like A Bird (Junior Vasquez Club Remix Edit). He also created Information Society - What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy) (Junior's Blue Zone Club Mix), and a remix for the All Star Tribute charity album What's Going On (Junior Vasquez's Club Mix). He also did house mixes of gospel group Donald Lawrence And The Tri-Cities Singers - Testify (Junior's Sunday Morning Mix), and did what I feel is a truly clunky remix of Cyndi Lauper - True Colors (Junior Vasquez Gay Pride Mix).

Elton John - Original Sin (Junior Vasquez's Recyclable Earth Mixshow Edit) came out in 2002, as did Ghostland feat. Sinead O'Conner - Guide Me God (Junior Vasquez Mix) and Funky Green Dogs - Rise Up (Junior Vasquez Earth Anthem Mix). 2003 brought the creation of remixes for Beyoncé such as Baby Boy (Junior Vasquez Club Anthem Remix), Krazy In Luv (Junior's World Remix), and Me, Myself and I (Junior Radio Edit), as well as several remixes for Justin Timberlake, including Rock Your Body (Vasquez Club Anthem) and Cry Me a River (Junior's Earth Club Mix). He also remixed Kelly Clarkson - Miss Independent (Junior Vasquez Tribal) and Nelly Furtado - Powerless (Say What You Want) (Junior Vasquez Sound Facbory Remix).

Not a bad year for 20 years in the business.

Kelis - Milkshake (Junior Vasquez Remix) was released in 2004 [sadly many of the most interesting remixes from this point onward aren't available online], and by 2005 he was once again remixing Beyoncé - Check On It (Junior Vasquez Club Mix), and by 2006 he was working on Christina Aguilera - Ain't No Other Man (Junior Vasquez Club Mix) and Pink - Stupid Girls (Junior Vasquez & Dynamix Club Remix). 2007 saw Junior reworking tracks for Britney Spears, including Piece Of Me (Junior Vasquez & Johnny Vicious Club), Gimme More (Junior Vasquez & Johnny Vicious Club Remix), and Womanizer (Junior's Tribal Electro Mix).

2008 was a quiet year for Junior, but in 2009 he was once again remixing Britney Spears for If U Seek Amy (Junior Vasquez Big Room Mix) and Circus (Junior Vasquez Club Remix). That same year, he also remixed Pink - Please Don't Leave Me (Junior Vasquez Tribal Dub).

Junior hasn't been active in the remix market this decade at all, although he continues to do DJ event nights around NYC. His remarkable talent for creating house mixes out of unlikely (and likely) source material carried him across 25 years, and I'm sure there is more he could offer if he wanted.

The source for this post was Discogs "Credits" page for Junior Vasquez. There is much I know is missing from those pages, and much that I left off because of lack of availability for easy online sharing or simply because this post could be 3x the length and still not be complete.

Long live House music, and long live Junior Vasquez!
posted by hippybear (17 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Brilliant survey of Vasquez's productions. His live sets also need to be heard, starting with the generous collection shared on Mixcloud. Sample an early set from NYC's Sound Factory in 1991, another great Sound Factory set from 1995, and later sets from 1999 to 2009. Also, don't miss his guest spot on BBC's Essential Mix [YouTube][Mixcloud]--a perfect set of essential classics and rarities.
posted by prinado at 11:08 AM on January 31, 2016

After the narcissism-powered turbines of hate spinning post after post after post, you click on one that's driven by love. And it's fantastic.

Post Of The Year.
posted by four panels at 11:13 AM on January 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


(Created a youtube playlist of all links here.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:04 PM on January 31, 2016 [8 favorites]

Glorious post! JV can really take a track to another place.
posted by scruss at 1:24 PM on January 31, 2016

@MCMikeNamara: Thanks for the playlist. I would never have had the endurance to click through all those individually.
posted by BentFranklin at 2:32 PM on January 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Chairman Wow! Best of the best of the best of the web, hippybear!
posted by prismatic7 at 6:39 PM on January 31, 2016

holy shitting fuckbeans, hippybear
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:09 PM on January 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Amazing post, job well done!
posted by sektah at 10:44 PM on January 31, 2016

I have begun to look at the used CD single section of thrift stores just because of the interest in remixes like this. Thanks for the roundup.
posted by solarion at 2:43 AM on February 1, 2016

Simply wonderful! There is no such thing as too much Junior
Thanks, hippybear!
posted by matrixgeek at 3:36 AM on February 1, 2016

When I'm digging through $1 bins in a record store, I'll pretty much grab anything with a Jr Vasquez dub, no matter how dire the artist is.

My favorite Vasquez remix, K.D. Lang's Theme from the Valley of the Dolls, 1997.

(not that Lang is dire)
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:15 AM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jesus Christ, I'd forgotten how important that "Yesterday When I Was Mad" remix was to me in 1994; it's like a trigger to a direct connection to 19 year old me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:18 AM on February 1, 2016

Thank you hippybear and thank you MCMikeNamara!
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:31 AM on February 1, 2016

Great post, thanks so much.
posted by dayvandi at 1:13 PM on February 1, 2016

I'm coming in super late to this party, but holy crapsticks hippybear, thank you so much for amassing all of this.
posted by LMGM at 3:22 PM on February 3, 2016

Thanks also to MCMikeNamara for his playlist. It's like a voodoo wizard found this thread and made it even better with that one link.
posted by hippybear at 7:04 PM on February 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

As long as I am commenting here, there were SO MANY FUCKING REMIXES that I did not include for various reasons. There's an entire library of Madonna remixes that aren't here. There are entire musicians' catalogs that Junior remixed that I didn't even begin to mention. There are what I am sure are some gems (remixes for Maroon 5 and Mary J Blige and many others) that simply were not available. And many more remixes that were on Youtube but had questionable provenance (track duration did not match, mix did not sound like Junior but was labeled as such, etc). Also, I know there are a lot of mixes that exist that simply were not listed on the discogs page I used as a source, and I didn't even try to track those down. That way lies madness!

I listened to easily half again as many mixes as I listed here, and there are a lot that I know I left out for various editorial reasons -- I'm not a big fan of instrumental mixes, a lot of dub mixes leave me cold, etc. Also, I did not include many of Junior's own songs, of which there are many, or any of his actual CD mix releases, which I thought about including but decided to keep the post more closely focussed.

It would be easy to probably have a Junior playlist that is nearly a month long just off of YouTube, and certainly many more if all of his mixes could actually be assembled from all their sources. So much Junior! The mind boggles!
posted by hippybear at 7:12 PM on February 3, 2016

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