Metro Weekly

‘Red Hot + Free’ revives the legendary remix compilations

Billy Porter, Titus Burgess, and Sofi Tukker HIV/AIDS charity fundraising effort

Red Hot + Free: Tituss Burgess, Billy Porter, Sofi Tukker, Casey Spooner
Tituss Burgess, Billy Porter, Sofi Tukker, Casey Spooner

When the late George Michael was at his career peak three decades ago, the late global pop megastar helped propel the fight against HIV/AIDS as a cause célèbre and a mainstream concern chiefly through his participation with Red Hot.

The pioneering charity raised many millions of dollars for the cause through sale proceeds of compilations featuring imaginative remakes or remixes of pop standards from some of the era’s biggest artists. The 1990 debut Red Hot + Blue, a 20-track tribute to Cole Porter, included David Byrne, k.d. lang, U2, Annie Lennox, Jimmy Sommerville, and Erasure.

It was followed in 1992 by Red Hot + Dance, a compilation focused on club remixes of hits by Madonna, Seal, Crystal Waters, and Sly & the Family Stone that shined an early spotlight on the DJs and producers who were becoming pop stars in their own right. It was Michael who helped propel the idea of the dance compilation in the first place, and the 13-track affair actually kicks off with the artist’s “Too Funky.”

Red Hot + Free

Almost three decades later comes Red Hot + Free, which is being touted as “a loose sequel” to Red Hot + Dance. The 18-track double album features Billy Porter, Tituss Burgess, Allie X, The Aces, and Sam Sparro, as well as intriguing artistic pairings ranging from Sofi Tukker with Amadou & Mariam, to Bright Light x2 with the Illustrious Blacks, to Louis The Child with Foster The People.

It also includes remixes of Ultra Naté’s “Free” by Felix da Housecat and Chris Trucher, as well as Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” by Eric Kupper. The set marks the first new full-length compilation in five years from the revived Red Hot organization.

“Red Hot is the only company in the world that wanted to go out of business,” says the organization’s co-founder John Carlin. “Thirty years later, we’re still here. I’m glad about that. But [I’m] sad that HIV/AIDS awareness, humanitarian, and LGBTQ+ rights still need to be fought for.”

Red Hot + Free is out now on your preferred music streaming platform. Visit www.redhot.org.

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