Album Reviews

Various – Mashed

(EMI) UK release date: 5 March 2007

Mashed: verb; the intoxicated state of inebriation through combination of alcohol or other illicit stimulants; style of presentation of potato-based dish; the mixing of recognizable elements of one musical tune and splicing it with elements of another to create a mutant half-breed, and occasionally something that transcends the two = Mash-up. How quaint!

Obviously illegal, which creates a copyright minefield for any ‘official’ release. Step in ‘brave’ EMI to wade through the exciting ocean of artist clearance waters to bring you this sanitized and hey, legal, two years too late collection of all those illegal bootlegs you folks have heard so much about, probably have had already and are gathering dust on your iPods. It’s like going to a council organized rave. Thanks dad.

That’s not to knock the work of Mark Vidler or his Go Home Productions whose work makes up most of the tracks here. Like the groundbreaking work of Soulwax spin-off Too Many DJs this was a fizzing idea made possible through beat-matching technology, some magpie trackspotting and a DIY concept that owed more to punk than to current musical trends.

The unassailable truth is some mash ups work. Some don’t. When the concept of the underground has gone so blatantly overground something gets lost. The majority of these tracks are not just old, but barely �gold’, having been in circulation on the internet for over 2 years in some cases. Franz Buffalo as a case in point is a messy juncture of the Franz Ferdinand rhythm of Take Me Out’s staccato rhythm with the awkward white-geek rapping of Malcolm McLaren‘s Buffalo Girls: nasty on paper, worse in execution.

The majority of the rest of these tracks sound (by virtue of legality) dated, (by virtue of bedroom meddlings having the floodlight of exposure trained on them) lame and unnecessary. Individually the tracks may be thrilling for one or two spins, but collectively it’s like being captive audience to audio-fiddlers of ‘the can you tell what it is yet’ slavering school of point-scoring.

It’s only where there is a bit of musical dynamite that there is any sense of the medium working. Like when the dusty, suggestive pipes of Peggy Lee rub against the clattering undercarriage of the Iggy Pop express to create not just a musical, but a generational bastard that nods and winks in all the right places. Or when Jim Morrison gets resurrected on the low-slung new-wave street-rap of Blondie‘s Rapture do the musical hackles rise and purr with satisfaction at this unlikely union.

Proper Education, Rapture Riders, Horny as a Dandy and Doctor Pressure seem incongruous by their inclusion and their ironic chart success, when there’s a multitude of more dynamic, exciting and creative pairings out there than this musical copyright world will allow. Like the genius mix of Oasis‘s sneering speeded up Liam over The Jackson Five‘s I Want You Back, taking a ‘people’s anthem’ and shifting gears onto the dancefloor. It seems that true creativity remains illegal and edgy, and the devil truly has the best tunes. Go Home Productions have created a monster, but surely they didn’t need to sell his soul and tame it too?

So, Mashed not quite an album, more a tombstone to a movement.

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