RIP Talcy Malcy

A sad loss, one of a kind for sure, the Sex Pistols – whatever. For me it was all about the Duck Rock LP. I wrote this for Wax Poetics #19 back in 2006 for my top ten all time greatest cut and paste records:

Malcolm McLaren “Duck Rock” (Charisma) 1983

More a collage of cultures than literal cut and paste—this is generally considered to be the record that brought hip-hop to the U.K. The rulebook was still being written and McLaren stuck his head in the door, staged a smash and grab and headed off to Africa via Cuba, Columbia and Tennessee with the words “Zulu Nation” ringing in his ears. He got pretty lucky with his big steal too—breaking by the Rock Steady Crew, art by Keith Haring and Dondi White, vocals by the Ebonettes, all dressed up back in London by Vivienne Westwood. Luckiest of all he got Trevor Horn to put it all together before he rocketed to super producer status with Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Grace Jones. After liberally sampling everything, McLaren left it to Horn and his team to work out which way up the map went before returning to take all the credit.

This is McLaren’s strength, he’s a great A&R man and he was in several right places at the same time. He’s not an artist (Horn described working with him as like “knitting with fog”) he’s an ideas man and a publicist, this time with himself as the star. It always seemed a little weird to me at the time to see McLaren fronting this lot with his ginger curls and pasty complexion, he couldn’t have been further removed from the players and performers surrounding him. The whole thing had the air of someone’s dad trying to be ‘down with the kids’ because everyone knew of his past dealings in the Punk and New Romantic scenes. Even back then people were asking what bandwagon Malcolm was jumping on this time.

This is a record much like “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”, one that exists in it’s own bubble; white, middle class Brits trying to adapt black traditional and homemade culture into pop music, of sorts, just don’t call it ‘World Music’. What they came up with is a gigantic, mutant version of the reality they sampled, rearing it’s head up into the charts, that could only exist for a very short while before all it’s constituent parts crashed to the ground and scuttled off in their own directions. This is more than a super group combining their talents, more like a super nation all finding themselves at the same party and staying just long enough to make something unique and never to be repeated.

McLaren 650

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