Trackitdown contributor Jonty Skrufff has remixed Arthur Baker’s seminal disco classic Walking On Sunshine, delivering three versions including a stripped Berlin style tech edit and two more melodic versions built around Donnie Calvin’s soaring original vocals.
The electro-disco anthem was produced by Baker in New York in 1982 at the same time as he produced Afrika Bambataa’s groundbreaking hip-hop classic Planet Rock and became one of the biggest club hits in the US as well as a bona fide pop hit in the UK (reaching number 4 in the charts).
Fast forward 30 years and a happy accident serendipitously led to the new remixes coming to life.
“I was chatting to London wizard/ unsung nightlife hero Jeffrey Disatronaut about making a disco-techno mash-up together purely for our DJ sets, and Jeffrey mentioned to me that he happened to be storing Arthur Baker’s original studio equipment in his flat,” said Jonty.
“So I started thinking, why not use one of his tracks, and since my favourite was always ‘Walking on Sunshine’ I suggested that to Jeffrey. He loved it too and said ‘why don’t I phone Arthur to see if he might have the parts. So he called up Arthur who revealed that he’d just had the original stems digitized for the first time ever! He sent them all over and we discovered an incredible selection of vocals, synth parts, percussion and beats, all played live in the studio- each of which was over nine minutes long,” he said.
“Jeffrey and I plus his very talented brother Greg then worked on various versions for over six months and after creatively heading in different directions, I decided to start all over again back in Berlin, which is how these three versions were born. My aim was to maintain the spirit and essence of the original while giving it a contemporary Berlin spin and 12 months on, I think I’ve finally managed to do it justice.”
Delivering the stripped version to just a handful of tastemaker DJs including Ibiza legend DJ Alfredo (‘very good track, perfect production’) and Laurent Garnier (‘“This made me smile and want to go out and feel the sunshine. A great rework of this biiig classic. Super well done, my friend. Full support from me.”) he added the vocal version to Soundcloud this week, with similarly supportive initial feedback.
“Love the track . . . that's going straight on next week's radio show,” said Fierce Angel/ Ex Hed Kandi founder Mark Doyle, while Tim Deluxe responded ‘it’s great, a big remix, congratulations.”
“Arthur still hasn't firmed up a label just yet but he’s given me the green light to put the remixes out there to generate some interest and I’m delighted with the initial response,” said Jonty.
“The comment I’m most pleased with is from legendary New York DJ Johnny Dynell, who’s been a fixture on New York’s underground for 30 years.
“I used to play this song at Danceteria and then dance to it later at The Garage. It's one of my all time favorites. FINALLY I have a great new mix to play!” he says, “Jonty gives it a fresh new feel but keeps the original flavor. Not an easy thing to do.” It certainly wasn’t, but I’m proud and grateful to Arthur for giving me a chance.”
Seb Mortimer (Skrufff.com)