Ubiquitious production crew The Neptunes have remixed The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” (Watch and hear it here.) Save your outrage, puritans. Of course no one needed to hear a remix of one of rock’s most perfect songs. But the Stones are in business, and “Sympathy” is a commodity. Instead of gnashing teeth over the validity of the act, save that energy for an analysis of the result. Or just read ours.
The Neptunes’ “Sympathy” reset bears many of the duo’s distinguishing marks. Most importantly, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo never overstep the original track. The best example of this style would be the pounding Junkie XL big beat remix of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” – while the track was effective, it was all huppa huppa and neon percussion without any actual substance. Conversely, The Neptunes are masterful at the minimal, as their work on Nelly’s stuttering “Hot in Herre” and the gritty, jerking funk of Mystikal’s “Shake Ya Ass” proved.
For “Sympathy,” the duo retained the original’s emblematic parts – Jagger’s animalistic yelps; Keith Richard’s mindfucking, Cliffs of Insanity guitar solo – but subtly reengineered its famous percussion track and rumbling piano line. They didn’t soak the master tapes in sound-expanding studio juice, nor is there anything horrid like additional vocals. In fact, the final section of their version, with its add-on acoustic guitar dropout, might be the most effective part of the remix. In the original “Sympathy”‘s spooky fade out, it’s possible to hear satyrs drinking blood out of craniums in the hooting falsetto of Mick Jagger. The Neptunes’ version of endgame is quietly determined. Playing out in the video over Satan’s gentlemanly agreement with a political hopeful, the sobering tension of the acoustic chording is palpable, and just as unsettling as the Stones’ version still is. That’s the best part about the Neptunes’ remix – it amplifies the shadowy power of the original instead of hijacking its naughty bits for a 21st century hack job.
ABKCO will issue the track as part of a seven-song EP on September 16th. In addition to the Neptunes, “Sympathy” was remixed by Fatboy Slim and Full Phatt. All three crews turn in radio and extended versions; the original also appears on the release. The Stones’ iconic logo also gets a futurific update, speaking further to the band’s enterprising nature.