The history of the extended ( 12" ) 33 RPM version of the traditional 45 RPM 7" single is ironically not as long as its mini forefather, but with much more depth. Since its birth in the '70s with Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby," the 12" went from a DJ-only necessity ( due to time constraints ) to a music nerd go-to for special versions "not pop enough" for the passive music fan and an enticement for you to buy one more version of your favorite song. While it's more common for songs to be remixed and extended by DJs for 12" mixes, the tradition created in the first decade of the format was a complete re-recording of the track ( see Duran Duran's "Night Versions" ), sometimes with special guests. These re-recordings yielded some interesting star appearances you may have overlooked in their obscurity.
Before Madonna signed to Sire and catapulted to fame with her self-titled debut, she hung around the studio with then-boyfriend Jellybean Benitez, with whom she recorded the classic "Sidewalk Talk." When Jellybean was asked to remix Naked Eyes' "Promises Promises," someone had to delivery the actual promises on which Naked Eyes complained. About three-quarters of the way through the 12", that familiar voice chimes in with a list of promises sweetly delivery with all the coo she could muster.
Afterwards, Madonna's fame gave her the clout to get any special guests she could possibly round up, and she went right to the top. While it's relatively common knowledge that Prince duetted with her on Like a Prayer's atrocious "Love Song" and played keyboards on the playful "Keep It Together," it's not as commonly known that the Purple One played guitar solo on the title track. That's because, unless you paid attention enough to the opening of the video ( that version not released on vinyl ), or were a DJ, you didn't hear it. In the video, at the very start you hear a bit of it, you get a double whammy on the DJ-only 12". Not only does the B-side, "Act of Contrition," feature his distorted jam, but the rare Extended Immaculate contains a more traditional solo at the eight-minute mark of the A-side's nine-minute epic, rarely heard outside the club who dared to play it.
Prince himself also loved to mess around with the format and none was more glorious or unexpected than "I Would Die 4 U." The 7" was what it was, as you know from its top 10 success, but the 12" was a completely different song. Not re-recorded post-success, but given to Warner Brother from his rehearsals for tour, the 12" version is an epic jam tonally night-and-day removed from the version you know: A giant extended jam session featuring the wonderful Sheila E. and her band plus Wendy. Besides the commercial extended jam, if you dig deep on the web, you can find the 26- and 31-minute versions as well, if you want to be tortured or pleased.
The Pet Shop Boys are probably the most prolific in the format, taking cuts like David Bowie's "Halo Spaceboy," Rammstein's "Mein Teil," Bloodhound Gang's "Mope" and Blur's "Girls and Boys" and completely re-recording them with their vocals dubbed into and over for great effect and club consumption.
But not all extended mix guest spots are for the dance floor. Marc Almond needed a boost for his cover of the Gene Pitney song from the album The Stars We Are, so for the extended single he got the original '60s crooner to duet with him, giving the Soft Cell singer his first solo #1 hit in the UK with "Something's Got a Hold Of My Heart."
And for probably the biggest and gayest guest of them all, look to Boy George and Culture Club, who got the one Dolly Parton to toss in her co-lead vocals on their 1999 comeback single, "Your Kisses are Charity." Unlike Marc Almond's attempt, Dolly did nothing to assist Boy and friends in their road back, but it was a fun ride. Like all these guest shots, it was lost to time, leaving us who do the work for our musical pleasure motivation to dig deeper in the crates.
DJ Moose spins these and other nuggets at Kylon's 12" DILF, this Saturday at 9 pm at The Sofo Tap.