THE SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND OF HIP-HOP
Shawn Wolfe | Seattle, WA USA | 06/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album anticipates the multi-cultural "world music" movement by almost ten years. (Check that date, 1982.) At the very least it was one of a handful of early attempts to exploit that movement, pre-dating Paul Simon's "Graceland" by a good five or six years. (Talking Heads did it too, incorporating African rhythms into their new wave music in the late 70s and early 80s. Then later David Byrne went full tilt multi-culti, with his Brazillian music compilations of the early 90s.)
If you're too young to know who Malcom McClaren is/was -- he's the guy who assembled/managed/invented the Sex Pistols in 1976. He also managed Adam & The Ants in their early days, as well as Bow Wow Wow. Both of those acts were built around the "Burundi Beat" and vaguely Appache tribal rhythms. "Duck Rock" was the first time McClaren put out an album of his own, but he's not really a singer or a songwriter or a musician, or even a record producer. He's an "idea man" and an exploiter of other people's creativity.
His idea here was to mix early East coast hip hop, radio DJ banter, and scratching with African zulu, Brazillian and Carribean music, with layers of Eurocentric strings, lush beds of nu-wave synthesizer and... Appalachian square dance music! The effect is at turns gorgeous, hilarious, ponderous, weird, wonderful, infectious, etc., etc.
Some other reviews here crow about Eminem sampling the song "Buffalo Gals" -- but hundreds of rappers and hip hoppers have sampled "Duck Rock" over the years. (Neena Cherry's "Buffalo Stance"?)
"Duck Rock" is a unique melange of an album - and a first of its kind in many ways. It really is the Sergeant Pepper of hip hop... in my opinion. Others would elaborate and do it better, but "Duck Rock" came first. It's seminal - and judging by the scant number of reviews here, it's been all but forgotten. Pitchfork.com didn't even include it in their Top 100 Albums of The 80s. In my estimation, "Duck Rock" belongs in the top 5, easily, in terms of influential albums of the 80s.
McClaren's subsequent albums weren't as interesting or relevant.
Produced by sampling maverick Trevor Horn (Yes, Buggles, Art Of Noise, ABC, Propaganda, Seal) who deserves as much of the credit as McClaren for this brilliant album. Maybe more. All of his best ideas (Art Of Noise most notably) were arrived at in the process of making the ground-breaking "Duck Rock"."
Clever cultural imperialism.
D. H. Richards | Silver Spring, MD USA | 09/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Upfront this album is really nothing more than Mr Maclaren going out and wholesale stealing (lifting, borrowing) world music before there was ever a bin in the store called world music. But (!) he mixes it with the emerging NYC hip-hop scene with the help of Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley and JJ (future Art of Noise team- you can hear the roots of the noise on this record. In fact the initial AON sessions were done at night during these recording sessions). Double Dutch (not the famous Double Dutch Bus song by Frankie Smith) is the stand out track here, predating Paul Simon's South African work by almost a decade. Coupling it with the NYC street double dutch teams was pure genius. Merengue is nothing more than a third rate Dominican Merengue pattern. Buffalo Gals is the other stand out track here, deserved of its place in music history. From our standpoint here, 20 year on, this sounds dated and even slightly un PC. But at the time this was the first time that most people outside of NYC had heard hip-hop or early DJs. Call it what you will but this record broke a lot of new ground and parts of it still sound fresh today."
Malcolm's first solo album fuses hip-hop with african rhythm
Joseph P. Ulibas | Sacramento, CA, USA | 06/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Duck Rock is an very intersting album. Malcolm was on a trip to New York. On his trip he heard an interesting sound. The music of break dancing and double dutch. Being a business man and a "haberdasher", he knew that this music was going to become the next hottest fad. So he got together with music producer Trevor Horn (of the Buggles) and worked on an album that'll mirror the music of hip-hop with traditional african music. This album was a labor of love for Malcolm. He put his heart and soul into this disc. It also caused a lot of grief because he "borrowed" heavily from traditonal South African music.
Recording the disc was an event in it's self. Bringing a cast of characters into the studio (a whole cast of african singers and musicans, N.Y.C. hip-hop d.j.s', an elderly southern violin player to name a few). The album was a huge sucess but it cost the studio plenty. To re-coup the losses they released a few discs that featured re-mixes and out takes from the production (Swamp Thing and Do You like Scratching). Buffalo Gals was a smash hit and hugley inspirational amongst many young hip-hop music performers in the United States and the U.K. Fifteen years later these artists paid tribute to McLaren by doing their own re-mixes and versions of Buffalo Gals and other songs from this disc. Malcolm would later re-visit the world of hip-hop ten years later. This time merging the music with Shakespere and Salsa beats.
Can You Say CLASSIC?
Joseph P. Ulibas | 03/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember this album form when it hit stores in 1982. I bought it for the outrageous cover and was amazed when I got home at the techniques malcom McClaren and The Worlds Famous Supreme Team were incorporating in their radio shows. This is a classic that every hip-hop head should have in their collection. If you appreciate the art of scratchin' this is a must own. The re-released product with appearances by Rakim and KRS One and Soulson revives this classic and gives it a new life and identity, but the original holds its own."
Apres Le Swindle
Joseph P. Ulibas | 07/12/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Notorious as the mastermind behind the Sex Pistols, McLaren surprised everyone with an album (originally released in 1983) that blended African high-life rhythms, early East Coast hip-hop, latin beats, moody synthesizers (courtesy of Thomas "she blinded me with science" Dolby and Anne "art of noise" Dudley) and Tennessee-hilltopper fiddles (!) into a heady gumbo that may qualify as the first post-punk World Music album. Gleefully schizophrenic, this record is pure genius, pure fun, and a testament to McLaren's sense of style. A must-have in any collection, and a killer car-stereo selection."