Back in 1998, Blur released the album Bustin’ + Dronin‘, a remix compilation and live album which included 15 tracks spread across two discs.
The record, which was originally given a Japan-exclusive release, was later released in limited quantities across the UK and the USA due to its immense popularity. The album is built on remixes of songs which have been from the band’s eponymous album, Blur.
At this point of Blur’s fledgeling growth, the band had only ever worked with Stephen Street, a producer who had established a strong working relationship with Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree. However, for Bustin’ + Dronin‘, the record label handed over remixing duties to a handful of different producers who could add something extra to Blur’s creations.
The album, which includes nine remixes and six live versions taken from Peel Acres, has led us to focus on Moby’s unique rendition of 1997’s ‘Beetlebum’, a track which was released as the lead single from the band’s fifth studio album. The song itself, which Albarn has since said that it is about his heroin use and, more specifically the drug experiences he had with his then-girlfriend, Justine Frischmann of Elastica, remains one of Blur’s most iconic songs to date.
While appearing in the 2010 Blur documentary No Distance Left To Run, Albarn was pushed on the inspiration of the song much to his reluctance: “Well if it’s common knowledge then I don’t need to talk about it then do I?” Albarn said when asked about the song. “Well, that whole period of a lot of people’s lives was fairy muddied by heroin for a lot of people. And it’s sort of, it’s in that place. And a lot of stuff was at that time.”
Using drugs, for many, caused significant conflict in creativity. For Albarn though, the writer of ‘Beetlebum’, using drugs opened his mind to new possibilities: “[Heroin] freed me up. I hate talking about this because of my daughter, my family. But, for me, it was incredibly creative,” he once told Q.
He added: “A combination of [heroin] and playing really simple, beautiful, repetitive shit in Africa changed me completely as a musician. I found a sense of rhythm. I somehow managed to break out of something with my voice.”
Albarn would go on to describe the track as “sleepy” and sort of “sexy”, an emotion that musician, songwriter and producer Moby tried to take to another level.
Enjoy Moby’s rendition, below.