Picks and Pans Review: Wotupski!?!

UPDATED 12/10/1984 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/10/1984 at 01:00 AM EST


John ("Jellybean") Benitez has become a cult figure in New York City dance clubs. The Bronx-born 26-year-old began as a deejay in that long-ago time of the disco era, but he has moved into mixing, remixing and producing records. Using sophisticated studio techniques, Jellybean has performed surgery on songs by Michael Jackson, Billy Idol and countless others to turn out Frankensteinian creations. He'll extend the running time of a track, emphasize the bass and drums or cut out all the lyrics except the chorus (on Hall and Oates' Adult Education, for instance). Employing echoes, over-dubbing, needle scratches and other tricks of his trade, Benitez can turn the most unlikely fare into dance compulsion. His alchemic art has become so popular that many New York record stores now contain a section for 12-inch remixed versions of songs from well-known artists. For Wotupski!?! (sidewalk jargon for "What's up?") Benitez commissioned original material by such pros as Nile Rodgers, John Robie Sanborn, Dan Hartman and Madonna, Jellybean's girlfriend. Then he poured his bag of tricks all over them. The results are marvelous. Compromise, for instance, turns out to be satiny, soulful funk with excellent vocals by Vernon Jeffrey Smith. Was Dog a Doughnut and The Mexican are extended salsa-influenced riffs. With Dancing on the Fire, Benitez pulls out all the stops on his control board, using reverb, rhythmic delays and pop-up percussion. The whole package is a lethal carrier of dance fever. (EMI America)

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