Pitch shift: 10 records that sound incredible at the wrong speed

Pitch shift: 10 records that sound incredible at the wrong speed

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DJs have long experimented with the speeds of their records to add a little bit of personality to their sets. Patrick Ryder follows in the footsteps of the great dancefloor innovators to pick out ten records which shine when played at the wrong speed.


Words: Patrick Ryder


If you grew up in a house with a turntable, chances are you spent many a happy hour turning your parents’ record collection into ‘The Very Best Of The Chipmunks’ or an eclectic covers album by the late, great Barry White. What you probably didn’t know is that you were following the same path as a host of avant garde musicians (Pierre Schaeffer), adventurous DJs (Levan, Baldelli, Loda) and gloriously unprofessional radio hosts (John Peel), whose experiments with speed, whether deliberate or accidental were creating weird and wonderful results all over the globe. The list below ranges from the obvious to the obscure covering wrong speed ‘classics’ and a couple of my personal favourites. It’s by no means exhaustive though, so dive into your collection and give it a go, the results could just be spectacular.

Listen to all ten in this play list or individually as you scroll. Got a wrong-speed favourite Let us know in the comments below.


Dolly Parton
‘Jolene’

Originally 45rpm / Now 33rpm

Ms Parton’s enduring tale of jealous vulnerability is probably the best known record in this list and while the sombre tempo and plaintive male vocal of its 33rpm incarnation may be too much for the purists, the slowed down version has certainly caused a storm, doing the rounds extensively of late on various social media outlets.


Wayne Ford
‘Dance To The Beat Freakout’

Originally 45rpm / Now 33rpm

Cosmic club legend and turntable maverick Daniele Baldelli was one of the earliest advocates for the fine art of slow motion, frequently turning the dancefloor’s brain inside out with his pitched down afro cosmic selections. He famously worked his smacked out magic on this 1979 disco hit, transforming it from lightweight mediocrity into all out drug chug.


Linda Law
‘All The Night’

Originally 45rpm / Now 33rpm

A year before Rub N Tug dropped their mind expanding blend of pitched down madness, ‘Better With A Spoonful Of Leather 2’, the duo ended their flawless ‘Campfire’ mix on Eskimo with this sultry bit of Moroder-esque madness from Linda Law. Average electro-disco to intergalactic sex music at the push of a button.


Maxine Dee
‘I Need A Man (That’s What I’m Living For) Men Hungry’

Originally 45rpm / Now 33rpm

Sticking with the NYC scene, Justin Vandervolgen imperiously chopped and skewed this rampant bit of ‘83 Hi-NRG on his Try To Find Me mix for Golf Channel, pushing the 33 button to transform the tachycardic original into throbbing back room sleaze of the highest order. Poppers not provided.


Factory Floor & Peter Gordon
‘Cside’

Originally 45rpm / Now 33rpm

Everyone’s favourite industrial disco outfit hooked up with first wave avant garder Peter Gordon for two cuts of tessellating hypnosis on Optimo Music back in 2013. While A-side cut ‘Beachcombing’ got all the hype, I was smitten with the endless sunset of this bona fide Balearic B-side. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was actually designed for 45 and sounded like a Samsung ringtone.


Speedy J
‘De-Orbit’

Originally 33rpm / Now 45rpm

Not only was Jochem Paap one of Europe’s techno pioneers, he can also stake his claim as a key player in the evolution of Drum n Bass thanks to this melodic techno cut from back in ’91. At its regular 33rpm it’s a pleasant but unremarkable Italo-influenced cut but pitch it up to 45+ and those breaks and bleeps come into their own. What’s more, it came out a whole year before ‘Bug In The Bass Bin’ – take that Detroit.


Masters At Work
‘Justa “Lil” Dope’

Originally 33rpm / Now 45rpm

Although renowned as the finest purveyors of New York’s house sound throughout the majority of the ’90s, Kenny Dope and Louis Vega found a special place in the hearts of the UK rave scene when they dropped ‘Justa “Lil” Dope’ back in ’91. The low bpm cut, built out of break beats and horn licks from the Lafayette Afro Rock Band and plenty of reggae chatter didn’t have quite enough impact for Britain’s chemically enhanced youth. Switch it to 45rpm and it’s a different story.


LB Lynam
‘Get Things Straight’

Originally 45rpm / Now 33rpm

Here’s a little trick I learned from Manchester’s resident South African madman, Levi Love. At 45, this Caribou production is a skipping garage influenced monster with stadium sized synth breaks; but slow it down to 33 and you get a bass heavy zulu house groove perfect for mixing into a little Penny Penny or Shazula Max.


Gary Low
‘I Want You (Instrumental)’

Originally 45rpm / Now 33rpm -6

If Speedy J, Masters At Work and Carl Craig can all take props as unlikely DnB forefathers, then it only seems fair that we crown Gary Low the godfather of chillwave. At its intended allegro ‘I Want You’ is a fairly frothy Italo chanson you’d ignore in the pound bin, but played at 33rpm -6 you’re onto a sunblushed winner, as Washed Out found to his favour with ‘Feel It All Around’.


Wanda Jackson
‘Funnel Of Love’

Originally 45rpm / Now 33rpm

Just like dear old Dolly at the top of the list, Wanda Jackson is the proud owner of one of music’s unmistakeable voices, an instrument she used to fine effect as she carved out her own chapter in the Rock n Roll hall of fame. Asian influenced melodies and Wanda’s raucous vocals make ‘Funnel Of Love’ an undeniable Rockabilly classic, but if you slow it right down you’re met with layers of hidden mysticism as a cowboy vocalist gets lost in the Thai rice paddies. So successful is this slower version that Jim Jarmusch based his cover on it for the Only lovers Left Alive soundtrack.


For more pitch-shifted records and balearic good times, check out Daniele Baldelli’s 50 favourite cosmic disco records here.

  • Wrex Mason

    “Pickled!” by Flying Lotus, slowed all the way down

  • Richard Vergez

    Madonna 45 at 33⅓ sounding like Depeche Mode: https://youtu.be/g4kiRCdDyxI

  • Luca Faieta

    Tantra – Hill of Katmandu from 45 to 33 , super cosmic !

  • Thanos Katsolis
  • Patrick Ryder

    All mega suggestions! Madge as Depeche, ace! Bit of Rick Astley in that vocal too.

  • otherunicorn

    Jut about everything I’ve listened to can be made to work with a speed shift. Jarre’s Oxygene was a fave at 45. Tubular Bells is pretty good too. I have a modified CD player to do the speed change thing now.

  • Guillem Balaguer

    Aphex Twin – Girl/Boy. :
    Let’s try slowly !!!!

  • Micah Stupak

    No mention of A Split Second’s “Flesh,” the only record that launched a genre by being played at the wrong speed? Weak.

  • Natiahs

    Swans “The Seer” LP at 16RPM sounds like it clawed its way out of hell.

    Pebbles “Girlfriend” 45 ant 33RPM is, I believe, how the song originally sounded.

  • Lars Lippe

    Robert Hood – Minus on 33 rpm becomes a hypnotic Chill out monster https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9ImOrLlk1o

  • JP Wright

    new edition – cool it now
    cocteau twins – sugar hiccup

    both 45->33

  • Kwinten Callens
  • paulypaul

    You can play this game without the pitch shift on any YouTube video. Click the settings cog and you can hear a rudimentary sped up or slowed down version which attempts to keep the pitch consistent. Good Morning Captain set to 1.25 speed is a real mover. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J87vtrC_JBM

  • Krampus naar Nederland

    I already saw someone mention is, but “Flesh” by A Spilt Second needs to be included in this list, since its is a record which spawned an entire new genre just by being played at the wrong speed.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6XfRWVZvms

  • Filipe Parada

    The Charlatans Sproston Green(33rpm)

    B-Side From The Charlatans (UK) Weirdo (12 inch record / Maxi-single)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfWv4adJnxg

  • Paul Greenfield

    Osmonds – Crazy Horses from 45 to 33rpm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDr0q74GmMU

    • Tim Conklin

      Yes, this.

  • You should also listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywi4jLKYhO8

  • Piero Di Tommaso

    depeche mode-shout

  • haystax

    Herbie Hancock, “Rain Dance” from the Sextant album, played at 45, is real nice.

  • Jake Revill

    https://soundcloud.com/jake-revill/billy-swan-dont-be-cruel-un

    Billy Swan’s slow version of Elvis Presley’s ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ sounds 1000% better with the backing track sped up by 32%.

  • emberglance

    Rings around Saturn by Photek. Sounded good on 45 and amazing on 33 – I heard it played in clubs at both speeds. The record doesn’t say what speed it’s meant to be. I actually asked Photek but he seemed kind of unclear. I’m guessing he meant it to be played at 45rpm.

  • Joe Walker

    So Com Voce by Thievery Corporation feat. Bebel Gilberto is exquisite on 45 but at 33 it just takes it to a whole nutha level.

  • Xavier Haniquaut
  • artpunk

    Try any of the tracks from Bloom by Beach House on 33rpm. 🙂

  • Lukey Loops

    the world is a ghetto – george benson 33 rpm instead of 45

  • Do Funkk

    this is very cool for DnB 🙂
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lsr3OZYZCAw

  • Alex Canada

    After Severed Heads and Split Second suggestions I’d like to recomend a listen to Renegade Soundwave – Cocaine Sex at 45 rpm instead of the official 33 rpm.
    https://youtu.be/xvrc8-tTSPY

  • Matzo Sweetlife

    Hey there! One of the best pitch shifted records that made history, is this. Original is a good spin faster!
    ESG – UFO (low pitch)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9ikatomf6g

  • Aaron Sandhu

    Can’t believe no one has uploaded this to youtube, but it’s such a tune slowed down

    http://hypem.com/track/sfdj/Casiokids+-+Fot+i+Hose+%2833rpm+version%29

  • Clamzie
  • the Cherrymoon on Valium mix by Soulwax! Lospeed Gabber shitttt
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yBvP3616Wc

  • Damian Christie

    I don’t know whether it’s better, but The Bangles ‘Manic Monday’ at 33 RPM sounds a hell of a lot like it’s being sung by Eric Carmen. So…

  • David Campbell

    In the late ’80s Dave Strachan turned me on to Madonna’s “Over The Borderline” (12″ 45rpm) played at 33. We were dancing to it in his living room when his roommate, the owner of the disc, walked in and caught us.
    It was Steve Shelley, pre-Sonic Youth. Hard to tell if he was more irked we were playing it at the wrong speed, or just embarrassed Dave had discovered his extensive Madonna collection…
    A couple years later when Ciccone Youth came out, a few of us knew what was up with that.

  • Hans Beuzel

    Hot Shot by Karen Young, played on 33 instead of 45, gives a devilish touch to the music and words.

  • BrianTSimonson

    sped up double time makes a great disco song
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7-yAX9ijuM

  • BrianTSimonson

    “Moody” by ESG and “Cavern” by Liquid Liquid pitched down were some of the most influential hip hop breaks of all time.

  • Michael Rawling

    Can’t believe no one mentioned this! John Saul Kane, depthcharge, vinyl solution. Breakbeat <3…

    https://youtu.be/KyC4BrAQrWY

  • Horace Morris

    Try “Free From The Funkafied Filth” by Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles live played at 45rpm…It gets extra funky!

  • Harold_Snepsts

    I hope those tracks sound incredible at the wrong speed, because most of them are pure shit at the correct speed.

  • Myles DJctoafn

    Q Project – Champion Sound (the Hardcore will never Die or Bad Company remixes work) down from 45 to 33 comes out as wicked breaks.

    A tonne of dnb records slowed to 45 make perfect Breaks tunes 🙂