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What Does It All Mean?
Rating: 8.5/10 ?
Feed the Animals
Rating: 9.3/10 ?
Like rap, the mash-up probably won't go away. Many think it's a trend, but the demand is too high for it to stop now. And unlike other trends, this new trend revolves around combining old trends. Although the trend is not altogether new either. Evolution Control Committee's classic mix of Public Enemy and Herb Alpert was created before mp3 technology, and Steve Stein and partner Doug DeFranco were cutting tracks together not long after Grandmaster Flash had only figured out the wheels of steel himself. Only time knows what the future holds for this is-it-a-genre, but two masters of mashing have got the past and present locked up.
Double Dee and Steinski's tracks "The Payoff Mix" and "Lesson Two" have gathered lots of ink about their importance as 80s dance bootlegs, with spoken samples snipped from TV shows, instructional tapes and a James Brown riff, and there's more where that came from on Steinski's brilliant anthology What Does It All Mean?, comprising two discs of perpetually out-of-print material the good folks at Illegal Art have thrust back out again in a definitive package with beautiful liner notes. Even deeper than the dance stuff is Steinski's oddly emotional collage skills, arranging news reports and tapes from the JFK assassination and 9/11 to invoke history and black humor. The beat reclaims enough shifty funk that it's workable in the background, though it's ambitious for close listening and certainly not all-the-time stuff, even the dancing. But it's heavy and clever at the same time, like one on each deck.
Greg Gillis should be so artistic. I didn't have any great expectations from a guy whose deal is something I once claimed to be able to do myself. I'll listen back to Night Ripper, but I'm secure in my view that this deepening one-trick pony has never made a record as good as Feed the Animals, which has a lovely title in an AC/DC you-want-blood-you-got-it way. Same deal, new mash-ups. But these are less name-that-tune and more tune-that-rap, and the samples are more practical and melodic and they last a little longer, just enough this time to actually get your fill. Miracles include the best "Since U Been Gone" I've ever heard (braided with Nine Inch Nails), the best "Jessie's Girl" I've ever heard (Chipmunked: perfect), the only "Born Slippy" I've ever needed, M.I.A.'s toneless warble tuning itself to the Cranberries, and my favorite musical moment of '08: "Whoomp! There It is" over the celebratory, Celtic guitar break from Big Country's "In a Big Country." Thanks for the emphasis on palm-muted 80s guitar, the previously unknown correlation between "Ghetto Supastar" and Yo La Tengo, and the funeral UGK's late Pimp C deserves... over Journey.
Illegal Art birthed both of these releases this year. Same teams, so no winners, except us. SEE ALSO: www.steinski.com
SEE ALSO: www.girl-talk.net
SEE ALSO: www.illegalart.net
SEE ALSO: www.lostatsea.net/feature.phtml?fid=2340234984815aa984d890
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.
See other articles by Dan Weiss.
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