Juha's cover of Nina Simone's "Be My Husband" is remixed into multiple genres as a benefit for New Alternatives, a NYC-based organization for homeless queer youth. Timely in this age of the fight for marriage equality, this live staple of Juha's is finally available in studio form. In addition to the hypnotic chant of his original version, this single adds: a psychedelic soul mix from New Orleans musician Christopher "Chops" Ingold; the dancefloor stomp of Eddy J. Free; a cinematic trip from Lin Sangster of BadAnorak; Brett Basil's broody 80's new wave take; and Bridgeport's artistic lullaby. An interlude features a vocal relic from Juha's radio interview with Sheila Garrett, a lesbian teenager who committed suicide in 1993. All musicians, DJs, and master-hands have donated their skills to this project.
BE MY HUSBAND
Ambitious musicians can sometimes be too ambitious for their own good; their intentions might be admirable, but musical ideas that sound great on paper don’t necessarily work out so well when the musician actually does some recording. However, London-based American expatriate musician Collin Clay Chace, a.k.a. Juha, scored an artistic home run when he recorded his wildly ambitious late 2007 release, The Grooms of God. That rollercoaster of an album drew on everything from soul, funk, hip-hop, alternative rock, reggae and dance-pop to contemporary Indian pop, and Juha pulled it off magnificently. Juha’s ambition served him well on The Grooms of God, which made it clear that the singer/composer/producer thrives on variety. And he also achieves variety on this release, which lasts 25 minutes and contains six different mixes of his interpretation of Nina Simone’s bluesy, dusky “Be My Husband.”
In the R&B/hip-hop/dance-pop realm, hearing six different mixes of the same song can easily grow tiresome if the song isn’t really memorable. But Juha’s take on “Be My Husband” is memorable. Juha’s interpretation of the song has a strong Prince influence as well as a strong Parliament/Funkadelic influence; it is an engaging blend of George Clinton’s p-funk and Prince’s Minneapolis sound, which is not to say that Juha is actually trying to emulate any of his idols. Juha has his influences, certainly, but he is his own person. And during the course of 25 minutes, he offers an interesting variety of “Be My Husband” mixes and remixes.
The Album Version of “Be My Husband” is perhaps the most radio-friendly of the six different versions. That version isn’t overly club-minded and is essentially a version to sit down and listen to rather than dance to. But “Be My Husband” becomes much more danceable and much more club-friendly on Eddy J. Free's Infidelity Mix and Lin Sangster's Rockatoms Mix; both of those versions increase the tempo, and both of them would easily work well on a dance floor. Lin Sangster's Rockatoms Mix has a strong Indian pop/bhangra influence, which is quite appropriate considering that Juha now lives in the United Kingdom. London has one of the world’s largest Indian communities outside of India, and Lin Sangster's Rockatoms Mix of “Be My Husband” is a reflection of the popularity that contemporary Indian pop (as opposed to traditional acoustic Indian raga music) enjoys in London and other British cities. Lin Sangster's Rockatoms Mix is by no means an example of traditional acoustic Indian music; Juha isn’t trying to be Ravi Shankar, but rather, is acknowledging the way that bhangra and modern Indian pop are uniting eastern and western elements.
The Chops Mix of “Be My Husband” is the most overtly rock-minded of the different versions. Juha doesn’t sacrifice a bit of funkiness on the Chops Mix, but he definitely turns up the rock appeal. And that makes perfect sense given his appreciation of Parliament/Funkadelic and Prince. George Clinton and Prince are both funksters who were greatly influenced by the iconic Jimi Hendrix; Juha is obviously well aware of that, and the Chops Mix celebrates the influence that rock has had on funk over the years.
Brett Basil's Dance With the Husband Mix of “Be My Husband” and Bridgeport's Mile High Mix of “Be My Husband” both point to the fact that club music doesn’t have to be ultra-fast. Both of those remixes operate on the slower, more pensive side of electronica, and they add to this release’s variety.
Over the years, “Be My Husband” has been covered by a wide variety of artists ranging from Jeff Buckley to jazz/R&B vocalist Dianne Reeves to rocker Grace Potter. The Nina Simone favorite has a long history, going back to the 1960s. But Juha, much to his credit, manages to inject some freshness into a very familiar song. And while The Grooms of God would be a better starting point for someone who is exploring Juha’s work for the first time, this release is an intriguing example of what the chance-taking American U.K. resident has to offer.
- Alex Henderson (Billboard, SPIN, Allmusic)
"Be My Husband"
Performed by Juha
Written by Nina Simone
Mastered by Chris Hudec for Digitalsunspot.com
"Chops Mix" produced and played by Christopher "Chops" Ingold for Myspace.com/chrisingold
"Album Version" produced by Adam Capriccio and Juha for Juhamusic.com
"Infidelity Mix" produced and played by Eddy J. Free for Eddyjfree.com
"Sheila's Prom" performed by Sheila Garrett from a WALE "Closet Free Radio" show
"Rockatoms Mix" produced and played by Lin Sangster for Linsangster.com
"Dance With The Husband Mix" produced and played by Brett Basil for Reverbnation.com/brettbasil
"Mile High Mix" produced and played by Bridgeport for Luktown.org
Art direction, design, and photography: Bonnie Baker for Bonniemakespictures.blogspot.com
Clothing by Alex Cawkwell for Cosmic Felch
“In memory of Leonard Bondy. You were my husband, and I will always miss you." - Chris Hudec, Audio Engineer at Digital Sunspot