Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Compilation!: Malcolm McLaren: "The Bad, the Good, the Simply Boring"


So I'm trying a new thing here. I love making compilations - you know, mixtapes, playlists, etc. The problem is that I'd love to be able to include them here to be heard, and that's just not very easy, legally.

Here's an attempt at a way around: a compilation made up of songs that exist on YouTube, where I link to the uploaded YouTube files. I'm not uploading them, no harm no foul? I think... I hope. I don't know.

First kick at the can is the recently-deceased 'imp' Malcolm McLaren, more famous perhaps for his managerial role and for his dabbling in politics than what he's produced as a musician - largely because he very clearly couldn't care less about having a musical 'career' and was content to periodically release music whenever he felt like it - in pretty much any ol' genre he preferred, with a wild variance in quality.

It turns out he does have enough 'greatest hits' for a full 70-minute CD, and one that's really quite listenably as it flits from genre to genre. This material probably belongs to a dozen different record labels, which would make it pretty difficult to have a physical form as a CD you can buy in HMV. And I'm not too sure who would buy a CD of Malcolm McLaren's greatest hits. Which is a pity, since it's quite a good listen. Don't take my word for it listen for yourself. Click on each song below and a window will open with the YouTube viewing screen for the song in question.

» #1 - Buffalo Gals (3:43) «

» #2 - Aria on Air (4:09) «

» #3 - About Her (4:50) «

» #4 - Double Dutch (3:50) «

» #5 - Deep in Vogue (4:03) «

» #6 - Madame Butterfly (6:23) «

» #7 - Revenge of the Flowers (Todd's extended mix) (5:07) «

» #8 - Magic's Back (4:35) «

» #9 - Carry On Columbus (3:49) «

» #10 - Eiffel Tower (3:44) «

» #11 - Something's Jumpin' in Your Shirt (4:53) «

» #12 - Chinatown (4:10) «

» #13 - Paris Paris (5:24) «

» #14 - Carmen (4:57) «

» #15 - Waltz Darling (4:29) «

» #16 - Operaa House! (5:54) «

» #17 - Duck for the Oyster (2:55) «

1983's Duck Rock was Malcolm McLaren's first kick at the can as a solo artist - and to a real extent his greatest accomplishment, not just because of legendary early hip-hop/square-dance 'crossover' Buffalo Gals (track 1) but also because of the amazing African-sourced jumprope song Double Dutch (track 4) - two brilliant songs the equal of anything else out there. Duck for the Oyster (track 17) is a silly little take on straight square dance music - a joke, really, but good fun. McLaren followed his début up with the modern-opera concept of Fans (1984), the source here of the magnificent Madame Butterfly (track 6) and Carmen (track 14). This 'situationist' reimagining of premodern music in a modern environment is the signature McLaren trick, something he'll return to again and again throughout his career. Swamp Thing, from 1985, is his last 'early years' release, and it's from this that we get McLaren's reworking of a Bow Wow Wow track, Eiffel Tower (track 10), sung by a pre-fame Neneh Cherry.

In 1989, McLaren released Waltz Darling, perhaps his hast attempt at 'chart success' the conventional way. It's a lush album, a perfect soundtrack to Paris fashion week, and we take three tracks from it: Deep in Vogue (track 5), Something's Jumpin' In Your Shirt (track 11) and Waltz Darling (track 15). The next year saw Round the Outside, Round the Outside, a kind of return to past hip-hop glories, but the lead single Operaa House! (track 16), a track less awesome than its title suggests it should be, was completely outshone by its b-side (and significant source material) Aria on Air (track 2), perhaps the most recognisable song on this disc due to its usage in British Airways marketing.

At this point, McLaren seems to have realised that conventional albums were not the way to go. The next two tracks we have here are both from soundtracks: 1991's Magic's Back (track 8), featuring Alison Limerick, from 'The Ghosts of Oxford Street' and 1992's Carry On Columbus (track 9), from the 'Carry On' film of the same name and released under the alias Fantastic Planet.One last 'normal CD' release in 1994 was called Paris, and featured Paris Paris (track 13) with Catherine Deneuve, and also the original version of the song that I include here in a Todd Terry remix: Revenge of the Flowers (Todd's extended mix) (track 7), featuring Françoise Hardy.

A few random releases here and there followed before McLaren showed up, mysteriously, on the 'Kill Bill Volume 2' soundtrack in 2004 with the odd version of the Zombies' 'She's Not There', retitled About Her (track 3), which also showed up a year later on a rare CD Tranquilize, from which I've also taken the very strage mashup Chinatown (track 12), a fittingly bizarre 'final song' from the man, a track which was never a single but which I felt added more than a little to this most curious of compilations. Available here for your listening pleasure, until YouTube takes them down...

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