Write here, Write Now: 8.16 – Girls Just Wanna Dance with Somebody

DJ Early Bird – Girls Just Wanna Dance with Somebody. Glorious divas in happy harmony

This has been one of my favourite mash-ups for a long time – probably since I first started hearing these musical enforced collaborations. The two songs work very well together, such that, after listening to it on and off over the last couple of weeks, I’ve started singing one and drifting automatically into the second, even unto the electronically assisted rise up the scale to get from one singer to another.

Whitney effectively takes the verse, Cyndi the chorus. Though the music bed under the two is really more Girls Just Wanna Have Fun than I Wanna Dance With Somebody. It ripples, pops and bounces about under the two singers.

If you’d asked me who was the more interesting, appealing singer back in the eighties, it would have been no contest – Cyndi would win out every time – Time After Time, She Bop, True Colors – just great unaffected songs, happy to be gauche and throw herself with open feeling into expressing herself. Whitney, on the other hand was this operatic singer of supreme self-control – technically impressive, but cold, determined and ambitious – much like that other diva from the eighties, Madonna. Listening now, Cyndi is still close to my heart, even if she has worn hers on her sleeve rather often.Whitney now comes over as fresh and invigorating in her singing – maybe age has softened my views and my ears.

It’S a great mix, which is probably what lifts Whitney’s voice and my impression of her. Liberated from the music from her own song, maybe it sounds like she’s imbibed some of the warmth of Cyndi’s music. I think what I like most about the track is the uninhibitedly, joyous trilling of both singers, buoyed up by the insistent rhythm guitar. A happy, happy sound.

Write Here, Write Now: 8.15 – Super Jumper

MadMixMustang – Super Jumper. And didn’t they wear super jumpers?

This is just ridiculously pleasurable. Both bands sound like they are having great fun and the songs by ABBA and Van Halen fit together very easily.

The synth stabs from Jump emphasize the melody in Supertrooper and Anni-Frid’s vocals, which crowd out the track, to the extent that David Lee Roth is almost unheard during the 5 minutes of music, (though his “Awww!!” is the first voice heard after the music starts).

There’s space enough for Eddie Van Halen to have a guitar shredding solo and for the track to finally break away a little from the ABBA-dominated melody, before launching back in for a final chorus, first just with drums, then with “Go ahead and jump” ringing out in quite upfront “backing vocals.

Thematically, do the two songs have much to say to each other? Overcoming stagefright/touring ennui vs. encouraging somebody to make a leap? I think they do, in rather a cute way. Dave is getting Anni-Frid to feel the fear and do it anyway, or something like that. The story of the video seems to be that Van Halen boys’ pratfalling and silliness persuade the ABBA girls to go for it.

This track is like a big old comforting jumper that it’s nice to snuggle under. Nothing extraordinary about it (apart from impressive editing techniques, of course), but its very familiarity makes it pleasurable.

 

 

Write Here, Write Now: 8.14 – Ring of Smoke

MadMixMustang – Ring of Smoke (Johnny Cash-Deep Purple). Riff-free country rambling.

This is a revelation. Taking Ian Gillan’s vocals and setting them to Johnny Cash’s music, I couldn’t quite believe at first that they were the same as those originally set to Ritchie Blackmore’s rifftastic heavy metal guitar. They sound so country, so suited to the Mariachi-tinged sounds of Ring of Fire. There almost seems to be the same twang that I hear in Cash’s voice. And are those really the original backing vocals? They seem so Nashville.

And the story of Smoke on the Water could so easily have been the sort of yarn narrated by a glib country singer – “the things folks do, eh listeners?”

Deep Purple were one of my first favourites as a rural pre-teen discovering music back in the seventies, probably for the power chords and the heavy sound. But gong back to them in recent years, what I like most is the subtleties of things like Ian Paice’s swinging drumbeat. Smoke on the Water is so dominated by the guitar riff, that it is really refreshing to hear Ian Gillan’s vocals free from the perpetual music instrument shop irritant. Next time I hear the original, I will listen out for more than just duh duh durr, duh duh duh durr.

Write Here, Write Now: 8-13 – Sleazy Egyptian

Go Home Productions – Sleazy Egyptian (The Bangles vs The Stranglers). Bootiful bassline.

There aren’t the fireworks in this track that there are in some mash-ups. No great surprises, more the pleasure of elements from two songs working well together, (with a bit of  Ini Kamoze thrown in to leaven the mix).

It’s like treble has been added to bass with all the frolic and high notes from The Bangles, and all the (really) low notes from The Men in Black.

The rhythm guitar and bass riffs start the song (and get the engine running), but then Walk Like An Egpytian takes over, boosted every few bars by a bit more rhythm and bass. The effect is like the Bangles have been turbocharged, while maintaining the poise and cool of the original song.

I like both songs, but I really like them together, as they complete each other’s missing part – Walk Like an Egyptian being a bit fly away, Nice’n’Sleazy not really being much more than a repeated title line with great rhythm, but nothing at its core.

T

Write Here, Write Now: 8.12 – Radioactive Tubular Girls

LeeDM101 – Radioactive Tubular Girls. Apocalyptic

A new mash-up artist to me, it took some time tonight to find something refreshing and creative to play, but he seems to have the artistic touch to draw out interesting aspects of the songs he samples from – not just sticking two songs together over a thumping techno beat.

Though Simon Le Bon’s vocals do dominate the track, the music from Radioactivity and the main piano riff from Tubular Bells do stand out nevertheless.

It’s enjoyable and disposable, and there’s not much to say about it really. I haven’t really paid much attention to the video, which is probably a shame. I suspect that as much care has gone into preparing that, as for the audio – that they need to be experienced together.

Watching it closely, it occurs that, what with the brinkmanship going on over the Korean peninsula, this is rather a topical choice. It wasn’t meant that way – just coincidence.

Write Here, Write Now: 8.11 – Our Definition of Jazz

Fluke: Our Definition of Jazz. Throw a mess of wild instruments into the pot and stir.

It starts with an unstoppable jazz drum pattern, a sound which sets the frenzied tone and jittery pace for the whole track. It swings so hard, it feels like the floor is rocking. The syncopation sets my teeth vibrating. I could almost just listen to that alone.

Then some trumpets echoing each other and, together with a sax, launch into a quick blast of a riff that will repeat during the song, in particular the sax spiralling down the scale over and over. Oozing in alongside them is a synth bass sound that is the first instance of something electro in this previously primarily swing track. Mind you, it is still just 30 seconds into the song – not much to get your teeth sunk into.

It’s this bass tone that dominates the track for the next 30 seconds. Until the minute mark when the trumpets and sax play their fanfare. A couple of judicious swipes on the drum kit as with the opening salvo taking us through the next 30 second mark upon which there is the first of a series of dull thumps, heavily marking the point at which you are invited to headbang.

The thumping continues into the general drum rhythm and the oozing glistening bass snake continues to fill out the sound for another whole minute – the track is cruising along at top speed now. The drum rhythm gets decidedly more complicated and it sounds like, at the 2 minute 30 mark, Django Reinhardt  has dropped  in for a quick strum accompanied by his double bass player.

A bold blast from the trumpet and then the sax player goes wild, repeating the sax riff some 10 times in quick succession. A similar number of trumpet breaks and then merry chaos as everything goes until the trumpet is left to slow down and fade out the track.

So jazz swing, then. But the number of times the instruments repeat themselves in quick successsion suggests these are samples  mixed in and repeatedly played for rhythmic effect. Together with the synth sounds and electronic bass, this is a mash-up in style, not of song – an early form of electro-swing, I ‘d say.

I remember hearing this on Peel in the early 90s (one of the shows I recorded) and being blown away by what seemed so different to other music around at the time, (apart from possibly the one hit wonder that was Doop). In those pre-internet days, I thought I heard Peel say it was by a techno outfit called Fluke, but I had no way of checking.  All the other music I heard from the band was good, but completely different to this – maybe I was dreaming and it was some other artist – all I had was a track on a compilation tape – somewhere between The Moonflowers and Build A Fire by KLF.  Thank goodness for the net then, for confirming what I thought I knew with this clip:

Write Here, Write Now: 8.10 – Sul-E-Stomp

Astralasia/Suns of Arqa – Sul-E-Stomp. I love to stomp to this.

Another song which isn’t strictly speaking a mash-up, but more a mixing of two genres – techno trance and folk. I remember when I first heard this on the Peel Show, I couldn’t quite believe how well the two bands had managed to preserve both genres distinctly in the one song, and yet for it to work so well as a combined music.

Starting off with synths and electronic beats firmly in the techno zone, it then slips neatly and fully into the folk world with fiddle sawing away.  Lovely bouncy rhythms underlie the gradual mixing towards the violin and the multiple rhythms playing alongside each other, building up the intensity until the violin stops and it spirals off into full trance. The clip below only conveys some of the full frenzy and abandon of the track.

And it is irrepressibly dancey. One of those tracks that I have to move around to. The musical ideas leaping out of the speakers fill me with little moments of joy. I went to see them at the Hebden Bridge Trades Club one night and was on the dance floor throwing myself around the whole night. Happy memories.