"Crazy Mix 'Em Ups!"
I don't have a lot of time to write, so I figured the best thing for me to do in a time of panic is to post about a couple of artists that I don't know a goddamned thing about. I'm talking about the anonymous remixers... the mash-up artists out there who are redefining the way we think about songs, their structures and the once-unthough possibilities that can arise when we tear what we know apart and create a new curiosity with the remnants.
Take CCC (again, no idea who this person may be) and his/her work on "Making Plans for Vinyl," a song that mixes the vocals from Tweet's "Oops, Oh My!" and XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel." While I've always loved the XTC track, I can't say I've felt the same way about Tweet's song... until now. A truly great mash-up can have that effect, where a song you may have thought you hated is shown in a new light, juxtaposed against a melody or rhythym you might appreciate a little more.
One of the first mash-ups I ever heard was from a guy calling himself The Freelance Hellraiser. He had taken the vocals to Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" and laid them over a Strokes song, giving Xtina a new sound that took her out of the insipid teen pop and reimagined her as Debbie Harry. I have a similar mash-up (which I have seen alternately titled as Gob of Light and "Ray of Gob,"), created by a gropu calling itself Go Home Productions, that combines my second-favorite Sex Pistols song, "Pretty Vacant," with the slightly sped-up vocals from Madonna's "Ray of Light." The result is an amazing new song that makes Madonna sound like a less annoying version of the singer from The Darkness. (Pistols fans, note the use of the Steve Jones "you dirty fucking rotter" sound byte at the end.)
I've collected a few dozen tracks from CCC and Go Home Productions, and it's hard for me to pick a favorite. CCC has done some unbelievable work, like "Rain Babe," a stunning combination of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" and the Beatles' "Rain" that sounds so perfect, your brain might forget the original versions. Then you have a visionary combination like the pairing of The Jackson 5 and George Harrison on "I Want Pity". CCC slows down MJ's vocals, aging him another 4 or 5 years as he adds a dozen layers of sadness with George's mournful classic.
Go Home Productions have several classics under their belt, as well. If you can find it, hunt down their "Karma in the Life," which mixes Radiohead's "Karma Police" with the Beatles' "A Day in the Life." Or, download the mutliple-artist mash-up-clusterfuck of "Wrapped Detective," which blends Lionel Ritchie, The Police, The Wailers, Elvis Costello, Peggy Lee, Led Zeppelin and more into one big hypnotic chunk of funk. If that's not your bag, try getting some Marvin Gaye with your Radiohead on "Sexual High."
Of course, if you visit a site like Get Your Bootleg On, you'll find that there are tons of others out there with some innovative ideas for song collaborations. I can't even begin to tell you who put together this mix of Elliott Smith and the Beatles, but they managed to create a new song that turns Paul McCartney into Morrissey. And then you've got the truly sublime "Crying in the Chapel", where Elvis Presley's subtle, gorgeous vocals croon over a peaceful Wailers instrumental.
It's good to know that even if everyone in the world stopped recording music tomorrow, there are still a million places we could take the music we already have.
FOR MORE MASH-UPS:
What appears to be CCCs page
Go Home Productions' MP3 page
The Kleptones Beatles mixes
Live videos of DJ Z-Trip, including footage with Beck
A mix of Joan Jett and Queen
DJ BC's mash of The Roots and Radiohead
DJ BC's Beastles project