Sunday 4 December 2022

The Original Debutante

Sides 1 & 2 of a Björk cassette compilation, recorded 23rd February 1997.
Confusingly, I posted another Björk selection called Debutante last September, an all-video recreation of her Debut album. This is the original though, "a selection of mixes and alternate versions" culled from accompanying singles and other sources and put on a C60 cassette.

The Underworld remix of Human Behaviour that appeared on the vinyl and CD single was a 12-minute epic and remains one of the finest reworkings that Darren Emerson and Rick Smith delivered as a partnership. The version here is an eight-and-a-half minute edit that appeared on the Welcome To The Future² compilation. Yes, it's considerably shorter but loses none of it's impact.
Mykaell Riley was/is more familiar to me as a member of Steel Pulse but by the early 1990s had further success as the founder of Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra. I prefer the original version of Venus As A Boy, but this is a very radio-friendly mix.
There's More To Life Than This appeared as a B-side to Venus As A Boy. The single version is great but serves to highlight how inspired and brilliant the 'toilet' interlude in the original album version was.
There are a trio of songs from 1986, recorded by Björk when she was a member of The Elgar Sisters with Guðlaugur Óttarsson. On the original cassette, I cut the third song, Glóra, to 40 seconds to fit it onto the 30 minute running time. I've restored the full version, still under 2 minutes and essentially a lovely flute solo from Björk.
Back in 1997, I didn't have an alternative version of Björk's cover of Like Someone In Love so I had to stick with the album version. For this selection, I've swapped it for the MTV Unplugged version from 1994, her band for this performance comprising Talvin Singh, Leila Arab, Guy Sigsworth, Dan Lipman, Ike Leo and Tansay Omar.
Big Time Sensuality got a whole new lease of life when Fluke got their hands on the song and their remixes of the song are my favourites of the lot. Björk evidently agreed as it was an extended version of The Fluke Minimix that was used for the memorable video, Björk dancing around on the back of a flatbed truck driving through New York.
Side 2 kicks off with Andrew Weatherall, Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns transforming One Day into a thing of even greater beauty. I can remember being stunned when I first this mix on a freebie NME cassette and being delighted when I was finally able to get it on CD a year later on "The Best Mixes..." EP.
Play Dead doesn't feature on my original CD of Debut but was tacked on to the end, following the success of the single and the soundtrack to Danny Cannon's film The Young Americans. Whilst I don't think it fits with the album, it's a great single. Then again, with David Arnold, Jah Wobble and Tim Simenon involved, the odds were in it's favour.
I'm guessing that I Remember You was in consideration for inclusion on Debut before Björk ultimately went for Like Someone In Love. It's covered in a similar style and sits comfortably with the other B-sides on the Venus As A Boy single.
The Black Dog, at the time a trio of Ken Downie, Andy Turner and Ed Handley, were producing some incredible music for Warp Records and their remixes were no less exciting. Their recreation of Come To Me is much more unsettling than the original but is one of my favourite Björk remixes ever.
Fluke return for a remix of Violently Happy, at the time not a personal album highlight and as a single, feeling like the record label were squeezing every last drop out of Debut's success. However, Fluke delivered the goods again and I grew to love the song in all it's variations.
Closing the selection, as with the original album, with The Anchor Song. Black Dog again, with a looped sample that evokes (for me, at least) a ship's engine, providing an additional element to the song. Wonderful.
I'm pretty sure I recorded a similar alternative version of Björk's follow-up, Post, but I can't find it in my cassette collection so I may start from scratch with a new selection in the future. 

Side One
1) Human Behaviour (The Underworld Mix By Darren Emerson & Rick Smith) (Edit) (1993)
2) Venus As A Boy (Mykaell Riley Mix) (1993)
3) There's More To Life Than This (Non Toilet) (Single Version By Nellee Hooper & Jim Abbiss) (1993)
4) Sídasta Ég: The Elgar Sisters (1986)
5) Stígðu Mig: The Elgar Sisters (1986)
6) Glóra: The Elgar Sisters (1986)
7) Like Someone In Love (MTV Unplugged) (Cover of Dinah Shore) (1994)
8) Big Time Sensuality (The Fluke Minimix) (1993)

Side Two
1) One Day (Endorphin Mix By The Sabres Of Paradise) (1993)
2) Play Dead (Tim Simenon 12" Remix): Björk & David Arnold ft. Jah Wobble (1993)
3) I Remember You (Cover of Jimmy Dorsey) (1993)
4) Come To Me (Black Dog Productions) (Remix By Ken Downie, Andy Turner & Ed Handley) (1993)
5) Violently Happy (Fluke (Well Tempered)) (1994)
6) The Anchor Song (Black Dog Mix) (1993)

1993: Big Time Sensuality EP: A4, A6, A8, B4
1993: Björk Cut By The Sabres Of Paradise (promo 10" single): B1
1993: Play Dead EP: B2
1993: Venus As A Boy EP: A2, A3, A5, B3, B6
1993: Welcome To The Future²: A1
1994: The Best Mixes From The Album 'Debut' For All The People Who Don't Buy White Labels: B1, B4, B6
1994: Violently Happy EP: B5
2001: MTV Unplugged & Live (DVD): A7

Side One (31:20) (Box) (Mega)
Side Two (30:10) (Box) (Mega)


  1. This is a superbly compiled collection of tunes.......those early Bjork albums and songs were stunning and remain so today. I haven't quite had the same enthusiasm for much of her more recent offerings.

    1. Thanks, JC. Debut was just so perfectly formed that I didn't immediately take to Post but I found it and subsequent albums grew on me and rewarded repeat listens. The remixes and B-sides from those early albums were almost without exception quite brilliant. I think I did a similar alternate version of Post, will have to dig it out.