Monthly Archives: August 2017

Write Here, Write Now: 8.30 – Bootystition

Luminous72 – Bootystition

Some mash-ups are clever, and some just swing. Given a choice between the two, I ‘d take one that sounds good on its own terms, while still keeping enough of all the original source material audible as separable elements.

More than that, I think both Bootylicious and Superstition are enhanced by being brought together.  It’s a bigger, wilder party with more sounds coming at you out of the speakers. Stevie brings his funky clavine riff, and leaves the silly lyrics behind, Destiny’s Child bring the sassy singing.

Having said that, there’s not much more I can think of saying about this track. I’m not sure it makes me want to go and explore either of their back catalogue, but it’s fun when it’s put in front of me like this.


Write Here, Write Now: 8.29 – Lauren’s Opus

The Reborn Identity: “Lauren’s Opus” “I want to make peace, I want to sit with him

When I first heard this, it jarred. I love the Straight Story, as an earlier blog demonstrated ( and I quite like the Opus III song, but they didn’t seem to sit easily together.

Sure, it’s pretty good in one way – a largely vocal track placed against an instrumental track, and both tracks have lots of space in them, they take their time to develop, unhurried. But they do sound odd set against each other, a house music song and a violin  droning country track  – it doesn’t work, does it?

Through repeat listening, the oddness of the juxtaposition is tempered by the fact that both tracks have a calm, positive disposition – so they aren’t ideal bedfellows, but they aren’t going to steal the duvet from each other, are they?

A full 45 seconds of the time in this mashup is given over to the Badalamenti track before Kirsty Hawkshaw starts her ‘Hello clouds, hello sky’ Fotherington-Thomas act. And the repetitive, unmemorable lyrics start to fade into a jolly, airy treble babble against which the drones, whines and turns of the violin and incidental sounds begin to stand out as the lead instrument in this ensemble piece.

The gentle guitar picking and bass notes are unobtrusive presences, yet accompany both vocal and violin as those two voices try to successfully share the song space without completely failing to understand each other. Like a body at risk of rejecting a donor organ, are guitar and bass there as immunosuppressants?

Of course not, this is just idle conjecture. And yet, a mashup is an interesting approach to music creation. The chances of two such pieces of music working alongside each other without jarring are slim. Put musicians in a studio together and, whatever the original musical differences, listening to each other play must surely bring out commonalities, sympathetic and harmonic expressions of melody. A mash-up doesn’t get that chance, apart from the musical ear of the mashup arranger, and the sympathies and braodmindedness of the listener.

I’m lucky to have found nearly 30 examples.

Write Here, Write Now: 8.28 – Eternal Spades

Divide + Kreate – Eternal Spades. “Don’t forget the joker

Sitting in a friend’s bedroom, looking at a picture of three men dressed in black leather, standing in a giant sandpit, like it was the set of a spaghetti western, Ace of Spades came blasting out of his cassette player as we built spaceships and road cruisers out of lego- What an adrenalin rush, though in truth, also a headache – part of me wanted to listen to the more pastoral side of Led Zep or his sisters’ Monty Python records.

A decade later, and after an album that’s almost the antithesis of Motörhead, Chill Out, KLF go from ambient to stadium house to Extreme Noise Terror. So this mashup is not such a diversion from the meandering path Cauty and Drummond trod between genres. Chill Out is, of course, one of the forefathers of the mashup – a wonderfully creative live sampling of songs, sounds and spoken words. What was so great about the KLF was how playful they were – everything they did, whether planned and plotted out of not, seemed to have been a great caper. Their philosophy being, as far as I can see “Why not!?”

This appeared to come down to earth with a bump after they burned a million quid. I saw them in Bradford when they toured the country, asking audiences to explain to them why they had done what they did. Angry accusations of wasting resources were met with downbeat, momentum-braking responses from the pair,  until the audience seemed to share the overall bafflement and shock that the two had brought with them. The sparkling cola, it seemed, had turned flat.

The two songs make a glorious, chaotic noise when brought together – like two chainsaws exploding in sparks. And it’s not an unharmonious meeting. There’s the shared, racing and rattling rhythm that makes this mashup work – like they are all playing in a howling wind tunnel But there’s also the harmonies between the singing on “3a-e-a-m, 3a-e-a-m” and the chords played on Fast Eddie Clarke’s guitar.

Beauty & poetry in found objects. Could this be the balance between hard rock, pastoral and anarchic humour I was reaching for, all those years ago?

Write Here, Write Now: 8.27 – Sign o’ That Hill

Wax Audio – Sign o’ That Hill. “Let’s exchange the experience

I think the 80’s is definitely my musical comfort zone. My teenage years, so it’s not surprising, I suppose. I do like that Prince and Kate Bush have found their way into a mashup. Both artists seemed to be determinedly ploughing their own furrows, irrespective of musical fashion, given large freedom to give free range to their artistic expression and to have managed to avoid the public eye for much of their careers (outside of public performances).

Like the best of mashups, this one gives equal musical and vocal space to both songs and the mood of tempered but forceful expression in both finds its match in the other.

I like how the quiet synth of Running Up That Hill launches it, without taking away from the minimalist drum start of Sign o’ the Times. A drum rhythm that unobtrusively continues through both Prince and Kate’s sections, which follow sequentially from each other.

There’s an otherworldly feel to both songs that comes through, suggesting deeply felt passions that are barely touched on, but when expressed, burn.

Do you want to know how it feels?
Oh why. Time, time

And Kate’s song’s allusion to seeing things from both sides of the gender divide nicely links to Prince’s general comfort in expressing both his male and female sides.

The video complements the mashup well – darting from one song to the other, letting Kate’s dancing fit well with that of Cat’s, as if they were of one piece.

I’d always liked both songs, but had never thought of the complementarities of the two of them before. A good ear and gifted mixing from Wax Audio to thank for broadening my horizons.

Write Here, Write Now: 8.26 – Passenger Fever

Go Home Productions: Passenger Fever. Swamp fever

Sometimes a mashup doesn’t have to be big or clever, it can just fit two songs together comfortably and let them do their thing, Iggy Pop and Peggy Lee are perfectly good bedfellows, though I would have preferred the added edge of the Cramps’ version of Fever (

The opening strummed guitar riff tells you you are in familiar territory, and then when Peggy Lee introduces another well-respected classic, the track pretty much writes itself. This would be boring, except that both songs are so great, they can’t be diminished by being combined.

Good time songs to bounce around the dancefloor to, and not much more than that. The words aren’t really very meaningful – all about the feeling of the music. And that may be the problem I hadn’t really thought of about this mashup. In as much as it can bring out elements of songs that hadn’t stood out in their original status, it can also drown out charming idiosyncracies that don’t work any more in the new arrangement.

In this mashup, for example, while there still remains space around the singing, the constant´backing music detracts from the Fever part, which I remember best as a song with distinct pauses between each elegant verse. Here it’s rather drowned is sound.

So, what was a muted thumbs up, is now, on reflection, a bit of a thumbs down. More joy tomorrow, I hope.


Write Here , Write Now: 8.25 – Careless Rebel

Wax Audio – Careless Rebel. Rebel yellers.

This is one that has been going round my head a lot in the last few days. George Michael singing to the backing of Biily Idol. It’ sounds considerably more impressive and much faster that the original,, though I have a feeling that George doesn’t increase the BPM in his vocals. It’s more the energetic guitar that replaces the more languorous saxophone of the yuppie classic. It is only a little bit shorter than the original.

George sounds so energised. The one point at which Billy gets to sing is when he unleashes, appropriately enough, rebel yells, accentuating George’s words. “Please let me stay!” And then punches the screen. Oh Billy!

Sometimes, manic is the right response to bad news. Push yourself into your job, do it with more intensity until the grief catches up with you. I’m not going to let it affect me, kind of thing. ‘I betrayed my partner. They dumped me. Shit happens, Move on‘. Brutal, but bouncy.

I like it. It’s throwaway and silly, but much more fun than the original.

Write Here, Write Now: 8.24 – Go, Mercedes

Lenlow – Go, Mercedes. “That’s it!”

Hunting mashups on YouTube and the web generally is strange iterative process – link after link lead round and round in circles through countless repetitive and not very interesting mashups – is that all there is out there? Michael Jackson, Madonna, Daft Punk, Nirvana, etc?

And then, like a hidden button revealing a sliding door onto a secret passageway, one choice of words takes you off down a Chinese whisper trail to a whole new selection of unusual (yet familiar) combinations of songs. On this occasion, it was ‘Doris Day mashup’ that was the open sesame. Nothing involving the 50’s songstress directly, but she laid the way open to new treasures.

Many mashups sound interesting, possibly gimmicky, possibly ghastly, but don’t hold the attention for too long. This one has instant appeal and long lasting quality right through to Janis Joplin’s chuckle.

I know both Joplin and Beck, of course, though I wasn’t familiar with Beck’s song from the album Guero before. It didn’t matter – it was so much in his style that it fitted like a well-tooled pair of leather loafers.

And I love the easy way the vocal duties pass from one singer to the other, like they were in the same room. How Beck’s voice is so in sync with the bass, which, with the clapping beat swings so sweetly, it’s like a musical hammock strung between two trees with dappled sunshine dabbing down between the tones of beck and Joplin. How the gently raucous guitar kicks in. How Joplin’s usually histrionic voice is tethered and soothed by the backing vocals and humming organ.

To my ears, it’s exactly what Janis Joplin needs. Her beautifully fractured and powerful voice normally sounds so frantic. Like whisky, it’s so strong, I can only take it in small doses. Given the right musical dilution, like here, it can spread out and more comfortably seep into and massage the inner folds of the ear.

And Janis is what Beck needs too. Without her, he’s a bit too matt, too bass – warm but unfocused. Her broken glass slashes surgically across the soft skin of the music he offers up.

Though I can’t say I’ll be too sorry to leave this mashup month behind, due to the time it takes to find good sounds, I must say, when a good one comes up, it’s a real pleasure to listen to.