Jellybean Benitez has crafted some of the best music of the 80s and beyond. These are his six best tracks.
As a prolific producer and remixer, John “Jellybean” Benitez has worked with some of music’s biggest names and most talented artist. Jellybean had a huge influence on mainstream and underground music. His productions helped bring Latin-style percussion and house rhythms into the pop charts, and to establish hook-heavy earworms as serious club material.
That makes it difficult to pick a mere six tracks from his catalogue. It’s safe to say, though, that these choice cuts represent the best of the DJ’s ability in the studio, and the energy he captures with his DJ sets in the club.
1. Madonna – ‘Holiday’ (Sire Records, 1983)
When Madonna needed a hit for her debut album, the future icon turned to Jellybean Benitez. The producer had been working on ‘Holiday’ already, and when he played it to Madonna she knew she had to have it. The two musicians reworked the track together to tailor it to Madonna’s emerging style, and the rest is history. ‘Holiday’ was Madonna’s third single, but it was her first big hit, topping charts worldwide and establishing her as a major star. It also established Jellybean Benitez as a go-to producer, for Madonna, and for anyone who wanted similar success.
2. Debbie Harry – ‘Feel the Spin’ (Warner Bros, 1985)
As such an influential producer, it’s no surprise that Jellybean Benitez found himself as a part of the soundtrack to 1985’s Krush Groove. The movie was a major milestone for music cinema, as it was the first time hip-hop culture had been portrayed on screen. Blondie vocalist and songwriter Debbie Harry’s contribution was ‘Feel the Spin’, a hard-hitting dance track encapsulating everything great about Jellybean’s craftsmanship. A dancefloor-ready beat melds with polyrhythmic percussion and a catchy chorus to create the perfect club concoction.
3. Whitney Houston – Love Will Save The Day (Jellybean & David Morales 1987 Classic Underground Mix)
Jellybean produced the original version of this track, the fifth and final single from Whitney Houston’s classic release Whitney, but the underground remix he worked on with David Morales really brings out its greatness. The original version had the misfortune of breaking Whitney Houston’s record-breaking seven consecutive number one Billboard singles, but it still cracked the top ten. Given an official release a long time after its creation, the underground remix version really lets the song shine, stretching it into a clap-heavy club anthem more than living up to its mythical reputation.
4. Jellybean – ‘The Real Thing’ (Chrysalis, 1987)
As well as producing and remixing for seminal 80s artists, Jellybean Benitez is a solo artist in his own right. With 1987’s ‘The Real Thing’ he became one of the first DJ-producers to score a hit as a lead artist. Featuring the vocals of Steve Dante, ‘The Real Thing’ permeated UK airwaves and clubs alike upon release, and remains a dancefloor staple to this day.
5. Hall & Oates – ‘Say It Isn’t So (Special Extended Dance Mix)’ (RCA, 1983)
Pop-rockers Daryl Hall and John Oates are not known for their club bangers, but that didn’t stop Jellybean Benitez from taking up the chance to rework one of their hit singles in the early 80s. Benitez takes “less is more” approach, adding a heavier rhythm and occasional club inflections, but the overall effect is inescapable. You would never throw the original on in a club, but this remix would make a great addition to any set.
6. Jocelyn Brown – ‘Love’s Gonna Get You’ (Warner Bros, 1985)
Another Jellybean original production, this time from vocal powerhouse Jocelyn Brown. Though a moderate hit upon release, the song is best known for a one-second vocal clip (“I’ve got the power!”), sampled by Eurodance group Snap!. Despite this, the original track is six minutes of bliss, with Jellybean’s production proving the perfect partner for Brown’s powerhouse vocal.
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