Friday, April 23, 2004

We will teach our twisted speech to the young believers

Thanks to the fine folks at Boing Boing, I came across a musical project today called London, Booted.

London, Booted is kind of like The Grey Album "mash-up" put out earlier this year, but was created as a challenge to DJs. Their mission was to deconstruct, rework, reimagine or otherwise mess around with tracks from The Clash's master work: London Calling.

With a good bit of angst - driven by my love of The Clash and the really, really bad DJ mixes of stuff I find from time to time online - I ventured over and downloaded the 19 London, Booted tracks and gave them a spin.

What's come out of this project is a mixed bag, to be sure. Some tracks, such as "Bubba's Got A Brand New Cadillac" (created from "Brand New Cadillac") utilize very, very little of the original song; using only enough to qualify as a derivative work (kind of like on Iron Chef when the French chef is given octopus and ends up making regular French dishes with a bit of octopus thrown in).

Other tracks go the obvious route of mixing in another artist's vocals with the London Calling tracks. "The Power of Rebelution Can't Fail" (created from "Rudie Can't Fail") is a pretty good execution of this technique, and "This Girl Wants a Cheat" puts Christina Aguilera's "What a Girl Wants" on top of "The Card Cheat" in a pretty entertaining way. But even just a couple of months after The Grey Album, this feels like a tired technique.

But hidden among the so-so cuts are a few absolute gems. "Lost Souls in the Supermarket" (created from "Lost in the Supermarket") uses electronic beats matching the original's rhythm and layers on an electronic voice "singing" the original lyrics along with new words hinting at some kind of soul-less world where information is everything. Heavy.

Similarly, "Death or Glory (Zeitgeist Mix)" deconstructs the original and rebuilds it using synth instruments and a great late-1980s synth voice.

Those tracks, plus the "bonus tracks" "Street Profile" (created from "The Right Profile") and "Super Sharp Card Shark" (from "The Card Cheat"), are my favorite new visions of London Calling in the group.

Considering I began my exploration expecting to hate these damn DJs for mucking around with one of the top 10 albums of all time, I was pleasantly surprised.

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