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Reissue Theory: Malcolm McLaren, “Duck Rock”

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The recent passing of music impresario Malcolm McLaren has led to a lot of emotions. Some hate McLaren for his self-aggrandizing ways and mismanagement of The Sex Pistols’ supernova career. Others laud him for his contribution to music history as not only a tastemaker and agent provocateur, but as a semi-successful musician as well.

There’s something to be said about some of that music, too. McLaren’s debut LP, 1983’s Duck Rock, has been championed – thanks to both the quality of the music and McLaren’s near-unmatched gift of self-promotion – as one of the first records to bring hip-hop culture and technique to the masses. It mashed up worldbeat and Stateside DJ prowess (cutting and scratching and such) and packaged it in a way that reflected the excitement of old-school New York dance music (down to the sleeve art by Keith Haring). The record also had a considerable staff at hand, including synth whiz Thomas Dolby and all of the members of The Art of Noise (Duck Rock producer Trevor Horn in fact formed the group with Anne Dudley and J.J. Jeczalik not long after the making of the record).

While McLaren would later dabble in other genres in subsquent years, including funk and opera(!), it’s probably Duck Rock that will end up as his signature work. And with the rising trend of reissuing great, off-the-wall U.K. dance LPs from the ’80s (hello, ZTT!), maybe it’s only a matter of time before Duck Rock gets the deluxe treatment. And there’s a lot of material there, too – not only the various single tracks and remixes (some of them compiled on the 1998 remix album Buffalo Girls Back 2 Skool), but a hard-to-find record of Duck-inspired material recorded on tour and released very quickly in 1985 (even the press release cheekily dismissed it as filler – but it’s never been pressed to CD, which might be at least fair to give it a whirl).

Your buffalo girls go round the outside after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 10, 2010 at 11:46