A remix album is an album consisting mostly of remixes or re-recorded versions of a music artists' earlier released material.
One of the earliest remix albums was 1971's Aerial Pandemonium Ballet by Harry Nilsson, which was released by Nilsson after the successes of "Everybody's Talkin'" and The Point!, after he decided that his older material had started to sound dated. One of the earliest remix albums in jazz music had been John Coltrane's Infinity, which was released in 1972, and may have been one of the earliest posthumous remix albums for any artist in the music industry, as well as one of the earliest remix albums ever recorded in general, regardless of music category and despite the criticism Coltrane's widow Alice got for changing the orchestral backgrounds and rhythm sections along with creating new solos for piano, organ, harp and timpani.
Miles Davis, whom Coltrane once performed with, recorded his own remix album called Evolution of the Groove, and though it was also released as a posthumous album like Infinity, it had to wait until 2007. The best-selling remix album of all time is Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix by Michael Jackson, released by MJJ Productions Inc in 1997 Followed Very close by Madonna's You Can Dance remix album which was the best-selling remix album of all time until 1997. Sly & The Family Stone's 1979 release 10 Years Too Soon featured disco remixes of the 1960s Family Stone hits.
In 1982, Soft Cell's Non-stop Ecstatic Dancing, which contained the track "A Man Could Get Lost", notable as one of the precursors to house music, was released. A month after the Soft Cell album, the Human League's Love and Dancing was released, and just under a year later Imagination's Nightdubbing was released.
The format was later popularized by the Pet Shop Boys' 1986 release Disco. Janet Jackson's 1987 Control: The Remixes album was notable for not merely rendering extended mixes or alternate productions on the same song, but the remixers also played with vocal phrases which would be repeated and chopped up for instance. Madonna went even a step further with her EP You Can Dance by further experimenting with chopping up vocal phrases and even doing the same with parts of the music. These could also been transposed in pitch, sometimes to realize an alternative chord progression. And most notably: the songs fade nicely into each other, which would become common among future remix albums. In 1991, Kraftwerk released the album The Mix consisting of remixes of their earlier work.
Fixed by Nine Inch Nails in 1992 was also notable for being one of the first releases to be largely made up of remixes by other artists. In 1993, UK band Curve released the remix single "blackerthreetrackertwo" featuring three mixes of their tracks by other artists, including by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor. In 1995, Massive Attack released No Protection, a dub mix by Mad Professor of their album Protection, and Nine Inch Nails released Further Down the Spiral, a full album predominantly made up of remixes by other artists. This was followed by the White Zombie release, Supersexy Swingin' Sounds, which was entirely made up of remixes by other artists, in 1996.
Bowery Electric released the album Vertigo in 1997. The album, consisting of remixes from Beat, was among the first remix albums by an indie band and featured an interesting range of avant-garde and experimental electronic music artists.
Although they had existed for years, remix albums still eluded mainstream acceptance. That would all change in recent years with releases from many popular artists who have taken advantage of the format of the remix album (including Jennifer Lopez, whose 2002 remix album J to tha L-O!: The Remixes was the first remix album to ever debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart). British band Bloc Party have released remix albums for two of their three studio albums to date (Silent Alarm and Intimacy) which have the same track listing as the studio album, but the remix instead of the original (e.g. on Intimacy Remixed, track 6 on the original is "Signs" whilst on the remix album track 6 is "Signs (Armand Van Helden Remix)", etc.). The Benzino Remix Project mostly contains remixes of songs from The Benzino Project.
Also, one of better known remix albums is Linkin Park's Reanimation released in 2002. It contains remixes of their mega-successful debut album Hybrid Theory as well as remixes of some older songs and B-sides. It sold about 2 million copies worldwide and was certified platinum by the RIAA.
In the world of reggae music, it is not uncommon for a whole album to be remixed in a dub style. Examples include UB40's Present Arms in Dub (remixed by the band) and Gorillaz's Laika Come Home (remixed by the Space Monkeyz).
In hip hop, 2Pac's Nu-Mixx Klazzics was the first of his two remix albums, and was released in 2003. A second remix album, Nu-Mixx Klazzics Vol.2 was released four years later. Both were not received very well by the artist's fans. Notorious B.I.G.'s Duets: The Final Chapter was also a remix album of his three original albums, and was released in 2005, the second to last record of unreleased music to be released from the artist. One of the earliest attempts at a rap remix album had been by Snoop Dogg in the mid-1990s, which became a future original album called Doggumentary, but Snoop decided to cancel it. The best-selling rap remix album is Linkin Park's Reanimation, released in 2002.