A1 Where It's At (Edit) (3:43)
A2 Where It's At (Mario C. And Mickey P. Remix) (3:23)
A3 Where It's At (Bonus Beats) (4:08)
B1 Where It's At (U.N.K.L.E. Remix) (12:25)
I was surprised at how slow Where It's At sounds to me now. I'm maybe remembering this period of Beck as being more typified by the breakbeat madness of Devil's Haircut, but the first version of the track on this UK-only EP sounded much more laid back than I remember. Perhaps it was just that clubs I was in as a happy-go-lucky nineteen-year-old played it at plus eight or something.
The opening organ riff is iconic enough though, and the quality layering of other keyboards, drums, guitar feedback and the lyrics (here, at the previously bigged-up whiskeyclone.net) - I mean, it doesn't get much better than this:
Pick yourself up off the side of the road
With your elevator bones and your whipflash tones
Members Only, hypnotizers
Move through the room like ambulance drivers
Shine your shoes with your microphone blues
Hirsutes with the parachute fruits
Passin' the dutchie from coast to coast
Check the man Gary Wilson rocks the most
Where it's at, I got two turntables and a microphone
Does it? Except having "Bottles and cans, just clap your hands" as a breakdown, obviously.
The A2 remix, by collaborators and producers of Beck, sounds more like a similar-era DJ Vadim tune than anything else to me. Nice change of bassline, and a good focus on the guitar feedback sample, but nothing original, and not a patch on the Vadim-produced Confessions EP of the same year on his own Jazz Fudge label, if you want to see how a series of remixes on one 12" can stand up to being listened to like an album. This remix actually started to remind me of The Stone Roses by the end, which only puts it about six years out of date, musically.
Bonus Beats? Boring Beats more like.
Which leads us to the B-side. Firstly, the fact that a 12 1/2 minute remix of this track even exists is testament to the power of the strange and short-lived scene that was trip-hop. That this particular remix was never on any release outside of the UK should also tell us something. But it is still there. Which current band could you imagine, in 2007, would include an extended, slow and largely scratch-filled remix on a single? The only people I could come up with was The Earlies, and that was solely on the strength of the 10-minute version of Morning Wonder - which wasn't even a remix, just a longer version of the track they saw fit to put out.
Secondly, UNKLE always struck me as being a bit pants. The best thing they ever did, in their many incarnations, was being remixed by Portishead on The Time Has Come EP. That, and the great DJ Shadow answerphone sample that ran "rock died out and then came pop.. now you're living in the world of ... trip-hop" on the opening track to that EP. (No Nostradamus though, yer man Josh)
Anyway, the whole Psyence Fiction album left me cold, probably because of my intense dislike of anything Richard Ashcroft gets involved in. However, this remix, acknowledging its bravery of length, is very engaging. The UNKLE boys dispense with the main track, lyrically, after it would pan out normally, so after 4 minutes or so of vocals you are left with a wonderful and stirring analogue bass whaaarping; nice shuffling, jazz-inflected hip-hop beats; an array of samples from the original and other sources, then some quite lovely breakdowns. And at short intervals there are sounds the like of which you'd find on Delia Derbyshire's work for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and there aren't too many singles from 1996 you could say that about.
Not highly recommended, more lightly recommended. More where it was, than where it's at.