Randomising the record collection #17: Eternal – So Good (CD1)

#4689 – Eternal – So Good (CD1)
(CD single, 1994) (Discogs tracklisting)

17 eternal so good

Listen to the Tree Men Full On Mix.

Some days are easier than others. Having just spent 25 minutes listening to four consecutive remixes of the same song, I barely even want to think about them further. But rules is rules, so here goes.

This is the first of two CD singles bearing the title “So Good”, neither of which carries the original version of the song which became Eternal’s fourth UK hit. As was standard practice at the time, the second CD single was released a week later, to increase and prolong sales. It’s trailed on the inside of CD1, complete with track listings, this allowing Eternal fans to salivate over the prospect of buying the West End Dope Jam mix all over again – for yes, exactly the same remix appears on both versions, in a remarkably shoddy act of shortchanging.

Canny Eternal fans who might have considered skipping CD1 entirely, and saving their pennies for CD2’s altogether better deal – the remixed radio version of “So Good”, plus two previously unreleased songs – were further wooed by CD1’s inclusion of “3 free prints”, but it’s likely that many would have snapped it up without examining the small print, ending up with four unwanted extended manglings of the song which they thought they were buying in the first place. Ah, the Nineties music industry.

To compound the cruelty, CD1 opens with the worst mangling of all – the Tree Men Full On Mix – which ditches the song entirely, salvaging a single line from a single member of the band (“so good, so good, oh baby”) and looping it incessantly. Instrumentation is reduced to a synth brass line and an organ figure, similarly looped. There’s a wholly new rhythm track, which strips out the light, sweet R&B syncopation in favour of a bog standard commercial dance template – and worst of all, there’s a jarring sampled shriek that runs literally all the way through the track, for the thick end of seven minutes. It’s an appalling piece of half-arsed hackwork. And yet it’s the lead track of the entire two-CD package. Go figure.

The same organ figure resurfaces on the West End Big Organ Mix, which reintroduces the vocal and plonks it over a tolerably serviceable handbag house arrangement. It’s a pale shadow of West End and Sybil’s cover of Harold Melvin’s “The Love I Lost” from the previous year, but it will just about do.

The West End Dope Jam mix cleaves more closely to the original, with a slower tempo, a more R&B-slanted feel… and, aargh, that bloody sampled shriek again. Finally, the Joe And Pain Remix inserts snatches of Maze’s classic “Joy And Pain”, which do nothing to lift the song; in fact, the whole thing is a bit of a muddled, indistinct mess.

“Original version of So Good available on the album Always & Forever“, the inside insert helpfully informs us. You can almost see them smirking at suckers like me, who sleepwalked their way to the tills at HMV without conducting due diligence.

I didn’t buy CD2. Meanwhile, “So Good” peaked at 13 on its second week, making it the first Eternal single to miss the Top Ten. The group’s chart fortunes swiftly bounced back, and they continued to have Top Ten hits for the next three years. I even bought a couple of them. I hope they were better deals than this.

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