April 9, 2010

Malcolm McLaren, RIP

Malcolm McLaren, the amusing and sticky-fingered (self-)promoter / idea man behind the Sex Pistols, has died at age 64.

I always liked best Malcolm's own 1983 minor hit single Buffalo Gals, which pointed out explicitly what I'd been saying since about 1979: rapping sounds an awful lot like that most uncool of all musical forms: square dance calling. McClaren took the 1840s minstrel show song Buffalo Gals, which had evolved into a square dance call, and had some some New York rappers back him up while he rapped it (this was back in the early days before the racial wall hardened, when white people, such as Blondie, Talking Heads, and the Clash, were allowed to rap because rap was just the latest fun fad, not the sacred keystone of African-American culture):
Buffalo Gals go round the outside,
Round the outside, round the outside
And dozey-do your partners

To make sure nobody missed his point, McLaren's Buffalo Gals video features footage of square dancing. (Here's an even better video of a Buffalo Gals square dance on the Lawrence Welk Show.)

I assumed in 1983 that after Malcolm's Buffalo Gals that the world would now get the joke: rap was descended from minstrel shows and the dorkiest of all white forms of music: square dance calling. What more could shame black people, after four years of hip-hop, into going back to something they do very well, singing? Perhaps popular music would finally climb out of the rut of rap, the novelty music gimmick that had refused to die?

I was wrong.

And that was one of Malcolm's better ideas.

Most of his other ideas tended to sound cool in his constant self-promoting interviews, but sputtered out in practice. For example, the whole punk rock ideology Malcolm dreamed up about musical competence meaning nothing was a bad joke. The Sex Pistols were a young but fairly talented band, as their one album, which is full of catchy stuff demonstrated. Then bassist Glen Matlock was thrown out and replaced with Sid Vicious who couldn't play at all. It sort of made sense when you heard Malcolm spin it, but it turned out to be a disaster for all concerned.

Malcolm made an entertaining 1980 movie starring the Sex Pistol's affable guitarist Steve Jones, The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, about how the Sex Pistols were just a plot he invented to rip off the record companies for his own bank account. Yet, the concert footage from before their disastrous American tour when they still had Matlock instead of Sid shows they were a very high potential act, that just needed to, you know, practice. Instead, they spent most of the time suing their manager for cheating them.

Malcolm's line of intellectualization about how the Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen was built on the Situationist philosophy of French intellectuals from 1968 inspired critic Greil Marcus to write a ridiculously brilliant book about the Situationist roots of why the Sex Pistols hated the Queen. The autobiography of Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, however, debunked all that. Johnny didn't care about Situationism. He hated the British monarchy for the same simple reason his mum and dad did and his grandparents had: Lydon was Irish.

Around 1980, McLaren came up with the good idea of building pop music on top of tribal rhythms from Burundi, first for Adam Ant, and then he took Ant's backing band away, including the prodigious drummer David Barbarossa, to form Bow Wow Wow. There was always speculation that Barbarossa's album tracks had to be multilayered in the studio, but when I saw Bow Wow Wow around 1981, he was moving his hands faster than any drummer I'd seen.

But Malcolm could never have too much controversy, so he hired a 14-year-old girl to be a lead singer and promoted her as a sex kitten. At the show I attended in LA, she blew her voice out painfully on the second song, suggesting to me that 14-year-old girls shouldn't be on rock band world tours.

Anyway, when I was reading McLaren's obituaries yesterday, being reminded of how far he'd gotten in the garment and entertainment industries on sheer chutzpah, I decided to look up more about McLaren because I thought it was striking that he could have the most stereotypically Jewish career imaginable, yet be a Scotsman named Malcolm Robert Andrew McLaren. Pointing this out would be good way to shatter stereotypes!

But, then I worried that I ought to check his maternal line and his upbringing before saying this in public. To my surprise (although I shouldn't have been surprised), when I looked up McLaren on Wikipedia yesterday, I found:
McLaren was born to Pete McLaren, a Scottish[6] teenaged war deserter, and Emmy (née Isaacs) in the suburbs of post-World War II London. His father left when he was two and he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Rose Corre Isaacs, the formerly wealthy daughter of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish diamond dealers, in Stoke Newington. McLaren told Andrew Denton on Enough Rope, that his grandmother always said to him, "To be bad is good... to be good is simply boring".[7] ... When he was six, McLaren's mother married Martin Levi, a man working in London's rag trade.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

69 comments:

deariem e said...

When he was old and cancer-ridden, he did look a bit of a Highlander, though.

mnl said...

What an amazing talent. Definitely left his thumbprint on the 80's music scene that I grew up with. R.I.P. Malcolm.

jody said...

two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside.

eminem, 2002.

Anonymous said...

Stereotypes (really just "Tradition" or "wisdom" or "knowledge" on a different scale) work.

There's a reason they're suppressed.

Anonymous said...

Like Steve, I regard Rap as a cultural cul de sac for black popular culture -- which is actually the only kind of black culture. Of course, Steve isn't the first person to suggest rappers are just putting on a minstrel show: I think Thomas Sowell said this in a column long ago, but the square dance call thing I hadn't heard before and it's hilarious because I immediately think of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhZip41FAec

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

Sir-Mix-A-Lot "reclaimed the word" as it is, with "Square Dance Rap"

Neneh Cherry(who's got a _really_ interesting story) took the beat and made it "Buffalo Stance". The song is/was a hip-hop classic.

I am Lugash.

fdfaferew said...

Punk is junk. Killed music for awhile. Bugspray music. So pesty and hideous.

keypusher said...

jody said...

two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside.

eminem, 2002.


You beat me to it. Here's a link for anyone who hasn't heard the song.

http://popup.lala.com/popup/432627082214015110

Clever fellow, that Mr. Mathers.

Keyser Söze said...

You should figure out how you want to spell the man's last name.

Anonymous said...

Glen Matlock

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks.

Vernunft said...

Plenty of white people rap :confused:

Whiskey said...

Scottish teen age war deserter. Looks like McLaren's naturally larcenous tendencies were inherited from his father's side. In turn, just the sort of guy that is attractive to a teen age girl.

Practice their instruments? As opposed to working the next con? That's the whole point of a guy like McClaren, he only got born because of short-term thinking. There is an obscure Charles Williams novel "the Diamond Bikini" which captures this completely. Narrated by a naive 9 year old boy, his father is a racetrack tout who keeps "getting Drafted" (jailed) and hides out with his even more shifty brother, "Sagamore Noonan" -- some Mississippi county's worst bootlegger and conman. Who does nothing all day but think up new schemes. Probably part of this has to do with ownership rights being pretty sketchy under tribal chiefs or the English, but Caesar and other Roman writers noted this tendency even then (i.e. short-term scheming) among the Celts.

Black music died the moment Blacks refused to borrow and interpret European forms of melody and construction. Which was basically around 1975, when Disco moved from a Black pop interpretation of European strings (listen to say "Love Unlimited Orchestra Theme" by Barry White and the Love Unlimited Orchestra) to Gay celebrations of sex (anything by Donna Summer).

OneSTDV said...

Another recent white girl "singer" who people don't realize is simply rapping is Kesha. Here's her HUGE hit Tik Tok and an even more "rapped" song, Blah Blah Blah. (yes those are the actual names of the songs. Oh the Youtube generation!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP6XpLQM2Cs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3taEuL4EHAg

Kylie said...

Anonymous said: "...the square dance call thing I hadn't heard before and it's hilarious because I immediately think of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhZip41FAec"

Thanks a million. I'd clean forgot that old favorite. What a treat.

ironrailsironweights said...

Square dance calling may be uncool, but it's a safe bet that very few square dance callers could care less. They're perfectly happy to be uncool, thank you very much.

Peter

Nanonymous said...

how far he'd gotten in the garment and entertainment industries on sheer chutzpah

Ever wondered how many McLarens who were just as good merely died trying?

stari_momak said...

Between the square dance calling and the Kraftwerk samples, I think we can call rap a white musical form.

Of course, black musicians have been 'borrowing' from whites for a long long time. Hoagy Carmichael (may have) died in poverty while Ray Charles raked in the dough by stealing Hoagy's song. And don't even get my started on 'Leadbelly' and his appropriation of English folk culture with his 'Gallis Pole'.

I for one am sick of the black man ripping off white music.

Smith, W. said...

After listening/watching to 30 seconds of that Tik Tok garbage a single word comes to mind:

CURTAINS

Yes. It's so over. America's AAA credit rating going up in smoke is only scratching the surface. The Idiocracy is springing up around us like a strain of super weed.

Goodbye America. Say hello to North Brazil aka New India with its gigantic 21st century baby booms (500 million coming soon) of beige toned marginal talents.

Steve called out the Diversity Recession. But the recession is not manifesting only in the economy. We have entered a huge recession of the arts, literature and science also. The dumbing down is manifesting in many areas of achievement.

Yes, they did spike Idiocracy. You bet your ass they did. One of the upstream media controllers had one of those "you'll never eat lunch in this town again" fits and spiked that movie with a vengeance.

Anonymous said...

White people in pop are increasingly singing like black folks... the entertainment industry is selecting for black-sounding whites.

Gone are the days when effeminate, very white sounding white men like Chet Baker could actually sell some records.

re: Ke$$ha - I was surprised to find out she was a (rather strung out looking) white girl, sounding blacker than Rihanna

jody said...

the better punk bands get at their instruments, the more they turn into rock bands.

no way black american music died in 1975. it was still fun, easy to listen to, and catchy all the way to the 90s. it was more like 1995 when black americans began to reject instruments and started tuning out harmony and melody. gangster rap was great at first, then it started to ruin black american music because gangster rap was the only thing the black men with music talent wanted to make. it's a little better now that they've started to get away from it. 2005 was the last year of the gangster rap era, by my reckoning. in 2006 there were zero rap albums among the 10 best selling albums.

i was just listening to raydio and ray parker. you turn on black american music from that era and it's great. you can barely resist dancing around.

Anonymous said...

White people in pop are increasingly singing like black folks... the entertainment industry is selecting for black-sounding whites.

The purpose of popular culture is to turn whites into facimilies of the black underclass.

Anonymous said...

no way black american music died in 1975

I saw you, and him, walking in the rain...

Anonymous said...

no way black american music died in 1975

Don't have to be rich, to be my girl; don't have to be cool, to rule my world...

Anonymous said...

no way black american music died in 1975

Once you get started, you can't sit down; come join the fun, it's a merry-go-round...

Anonymous said...

no way black american music died in 1975

If you want more, then jump, for my love...

wren said...

One of my favorite white raps :
Suburban Homeboy
, by Sparks.

Anonymous said...

The sheer implacable hatred Johnny Rotten had for Malcolm McLaren was palpable.
Of course, Rotten walked out of the Sex Pistols (and thus destroyed the band), when McLaren went a gimmick too far - the American tour was a sick joke seeking as it did to rile the Bible Belt and the collaboration with the gangster Ronnie Biggs in Brazil just plain silly.
All in all McLaren was purely and simply a shyster, a slick businessman exploiting the gullible (both public and punk rockers)by foisting garbage on them.

Anonymous said...

Don't they sing "Buffalo Gals" in "It's a Wonderful Life"?

I gotta give Eminem even more credit for incorporating that reference, which I had no knowledge of until now. He's the Avatar of rappers, which was obvious before and this just confirms it.

Drawbacks said...

Yes, he did look like a cartoon Scotsman. And I bet his dad knew more about chutzpah than just how to pronounce the "ch".

"A Scot and a Jew, arguing about money in a graveyard." -- Spalding Gray

Anonymous said...

its in the blood.. it's in the blood

Anonymous said...

The decline from Chet Baker to Keesha is noteworthy.

Try "My Funny Valentine"

http://www.lala.com/#artist/Chet_Baker

Chet Baker was a jazzman - he sounds as white as possible and made no compromises about this. You don't hear him trying to scat like Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald.

MQ said...

no way black american music died in 1975

How do I say goodbye

Dumbered Down said...

Raise your plastic container of Brawndo and toast the new colossus: New North Brazilindia!

Anonymous said...

Another recent white girl "singer" who people don't realize is simply rapping is Kesha. Here's her HUGE hit Tik Tok


And here is a superb spoof of that song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7n8GqewJ2M

Kylie said...

stari_momak said: "I for one am sick of the black man ripping off white music."

I'm not. It's better than what he produces when left to his own devices. Have you ever listened to on-the-spot recordings of African ceremonial and folk music? Lots of hoots, whistles and drum beats commemorating, say, the sighting of a hippo but no discernible melody, such as can be found not only in Western music but in Asian music as well. There's complexity of rhythm, as you would expect, but not a whole lot else. The musical forms Westerners and Asians have developed like the concerto, the raga and the sokyoku have no counterpart in African music, probably because it has no indigenous form of music notation. It's more a case of oral traditions and of "express yourself", which may be why black music in America really took off when it did, in the 1960's.

In any case, indigenous African music is very...vibrant but once you heard one series of hoots, whistles and drumbeats, you've heard them all. On the other hand, the choral works of R. Nathaniel Dett and Jessye Norman's operatic career demonstrate that black people can excell at producing what you might call "high art" when using white musical forms just as Ray Charles did in the pop world when he co-opted white songs.

No, what gets me is when black people say Elvis "stole" their music.

Anonymous said...

Like a lot of 'black female' music, "Jump" was written by a team of white people. In this case: Stephen Mitchell, Gary Skardina, and Marti Sharron.


Song writers are an interesting breed. How many people have heard the name "Toby Gad"? Everyone has heard his music though. He writes a immense amount of music for female pop stars, including Fergie, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, and Natasha Bedingfield.

Most female pop stars, regardless of race, are just a pretty-faced front for a lot of other creative people. White creative people, for the most part.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was striking that he could have the most stereotypically Jewish career imaginable




I personally would not have thought that punk band promoter was the most stereotypically Jewish career imaginable.

That aside, I think there's a bit of the old one-drop rule at play in assigning him to the Tribe.

Anonymous said...

Punk is junk. Killed music for awhile. Bugspray music. So pesty and hideous.

The original brand of punk, which came out circa 1976-77 (aka Sex Pistols, et. al.)was a rough but spirited style of music with various degres of merit depending on which group were talking about. But the most important thing punk did was clear the way for a reamerkable era of "let every flower bloom" New Wave, where all sorts of catchy, arty, quirky, creative music was being made. Late '70s punk allowed rock to start over again, with wonderful results.

As for punk which was "junk" and "killed music for awhile"...I agree with you much more if were talking about the early '90s derivative of "punk" called "grunge." That was like rock's "death rattle." It gave us about 2 years of murky, depressing music and constipated groan-like vocals, followed in its aftermath by a decade of lousy "urban"/rap dominated music in the United States.

(The UK, intelligently enough, sought to clear their collective palatte of this gunk with their much more hopeful, melodic Britpop... but America was too much in "gansta paradise" to notice.)

Martin B said...

"jody said...

gangster rap was great at first, then it started to ruin black american music because gangster rap was the only thing the black men with music talent wanted to make."

Hah, gangster rap was made by people with NO musical talent, as befits a musical art form that is not music, and not art. What was Snoop Dogg's musical training? Choir boy, drug dealer. That's some training.

Rap has no musical value. It is toilet scum.

Mr. Anon said...

Steve, you may wish to check out "The Hives", you can easily find a lot of their stuff on YouTube (I recommend "Try it Again" for example). They are a swedish group (!), that started out as a garage punk band, although they have moved away from punk. People have compared them to the Ramones (musically, not sartorially), although I don't see it. You might like 'em.

Anonymous said...

"I for one am sick of the black man ripping off white music."

Why would you care?

josh said...

Wasnt punk music in general and the Sex Pistols especially...junk? Yes,'I Want To Be Sedated' by the Ramones was a nice hummable tune;but so what. Isnt it all a bunch of crap?? People on here justifiably expose rap as junk,but then seem to get all dewey-eyed at guys like the Pistols. Why did people--incl my brother,-get so enthused about these idiots? The movie about Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen exposed him as the idiot,drugged out monster that he surely was. Maybe these guys wouldve been better off if they had made their own music on their own,it nmightve been 1/2 assed decent!

Anonymous said...

Steve, you may wish to check out "The Hives",

The Hives were part of the "garage band" genre of the '00s, which included also the Strokes, the White Stripes, the Vines, and some others. It brought some life (and fun) back to rock music after a depressing decade.

Anonymous said...

It was part of the Jewish conspiracy from Day One to invent Punk Rock, so why would it be surprising that McLaren was a member of the Tribe?

MQ said...

Actually, the notion that this crowd has any idea of the range or quality of contemporary black music is pretty hilarious. Even the party music is far more sophisticated than "square dancing". Go on, admit it, when was the last time you listened to the radio?

And 20th century American music -- which is just as big a cultural accomplishment as the best European music -- is thoroughly mulatto, but blacks played a leadership role. White pop composers who work in the blues (namely: all of them) are following a black lead. You guys act like black music first appeared in 1965 or something. It's absurd to claim there aren't great black songwriters. Smokey Robinson, anyone? And singers like Ray Charles transformed the white-written songs they covered.

MQ said...

Also, one of the best pop songs of the aughts was just about straight punk...sums up the decade pretty well.

Punk is a very white style, sort of the white counterpart to gangster rap culturally. Probably why White Power music is usually punk.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCeZzW54a2o

Santigold (formerly Santogold.) College educated black lady from Philadeplphia singing and writing New Wave songs. Really well, I might add.

Anonymous said...

Rotten walked out of the Sex Pistols (and thus destroyed the band), when McLaren went a gimmick too far - the American tour was a sick joke seeking as it did to rile the Bible Belt and the collaboration with the gangster Ronnie Biggs in Brazil just plain silly.

Another part of Lydon's problem with McLaren was related to this Biggs incident.

Biggs was one of the Great Train Robbery gang. They assaulted the driver of the train, which led to his death.

In 1963 John Lydon's dad was a loco driver. Somewhere he is on record as saying "That could have been my dad". This was as much of a criticism of the band memebers who went along with it as of McLaren.

Anonymous said...

It's been reported that his final words were "Free Leonard Peltier."

Anonymous said...

"They assaulted the driver of the train, which led to his death."

Near death, in all fairness, the driver, Jack Mills, died of leukemia in 1970.

Anonymous said...

"Ha, ha, ha ....ever get the feeling that you've been cheated?".

So cackled Johnny Rotten in his trademark Irish Cockney whine after just one song ( a cover of 'No Fun' by Iggy and the Stooges) at the very last gig ever of the Sex Pistols at SAn Francisco.
Rotten who was in tears of desperation and rage wpropmtly walked off the stage and there were no more Pistols.It was a particularly fraught gig, Sid Vicios by then a useless zombified supernumerary was simply beeing propped up like a waxwork, his bass guitar unconnected to his amp.Steve Jones and Paul Cook bravely tried to oldier on despite being showered with saliva, beer and catcalls from a hostile crowd.
Rotten was referring to Malcolm McLaren diddling him out of his due royalties, so he cheated the sell-out audience out of their ticket money.
A few days later the remaining pistols jetted off to Rio for the Ronnie Biggs stunt sans Rotten.The rest is, as they say, history.

Anonymous said...

So how did John Lydon earn his stage name Johnny Rotten?
Well in the early days guitarist Steve Jones was first introduced to Lydon, he immediately noticed the appaling state of Lydon's teeth, ridden with acute dental caries to the point of blackness - a common feature of Lydon's cohort of working class London Irish too fond of sugar, but not fond of brushibg their teeth.
"You're fucking rotten, in't ya"*, quoth Jones in the splendid Cockney vernacular.Thus Lydon earned his appelation.

* 'I'nt ya' - the classic Cokneyism for 'aren't you' - seldom heard these days since the are very few Cockneys actually left, most being 'ethnically cleansed' from London.

Anonymous said...

White pop composers who work in the blues (namely: all of them) are following a black lead.



I'm impressed by your ability to repeat whatever nonsense other people have pounded into your head, if not by the nonsense itself.

Anonymous said...

You guys act like black music first appeared in 1965 or something.



You act like whites sat around listening to polka music before the hep black cats showed up to teach them how to groove. So I'm afraid I'll have to take your claims of musical knowledge with some scepticism.

Anonymous said...

Near death, in all fairness, the driver, Jack Mills, died of leukemia in 1970.

It was often said the attack hastened his demise, stress injuries etc.

Anonymous said...

It's been reported that his final words were "Free Leonard Peltier."

I thought that that was a joke, but when I googled "Leonard Peltier", that was the first hit I got.

I personally would not have thought that punk band promoter was the most stereotypically Jewish career imaginable.

Free Phil Spector!!!

MQ said...

I'm impressed by your ability to repeat whatever nonsense other people have pounded into your head

Blues has signature chord progressions, by the teens and twenties of the century (after the explosion of ragtime and jazz into pop) both white and black musicians are using them but every music historian agrees about the seminal role of black Americans in creating the new fusion of European classical musical influences and African rhythms. All great musical innovators are influenced by others, but it was blacks who took the initiative to create the mix.

As it happens we have a natural experiment here, since Great Britain, Canada, and Australia shared the genetic and cultural influences of Southern American whites but had no African-American influence. Why don't you tell us all about the great pre-1960 Scottish and Irish blues musicians?

You act like whites sat around listening to polka music before the hep black cats showed up to teach them how to groove.

That's the straw man in your head speaking. There are many great white vernacular musicians before the 1950s, but just about all of them -- from Gershwin to Jimmie Rogers to Bob Wills -- the influence from jazz and blues is clear.

I usually find myself on the opposite end of this argument, telling people about the huge role white musicians played in the formation of American music, but a lot of commenters here are racists bent on denying the huge and obvious African-American creative accomplishment in music. You all sound like nutty afrocentrics saying that Beethoven was black because he had kinky hair or something.

MQ said...

P.S. if you trace it back, the great white ragtime/cakewalk composer Arthur Pryor -- one of the earliest white composers to mainstream syncopated blues rhythms -- had hits like "Coon Band Contest" and "Oh Mr. Black Man".

James Kabala said...

I'm pretty sure Stari Monak was either being sarcastic or deliberately trying to bait commenters into agreeing with (or vociferously denouncing) his absurd remark. If the latter, he seems to have succeeded. (There are really people taken in by the claim that Hoagy Carmichael died in poverty?)

Also, the Sex Pistols played a full set at their last concert.

Anonymous said...

Another of those oh-so-very-atypical Jewish punk promoters:

Seymour Stein

Truth said...

"Between the square dance calling and the Kraftwerk samples, I think we can call rap a white musical form."

Sure "we" could, if we were complete and utter dickwads.

Anonymous said...

All discussion of popular music which ignores the invention of radio, electric amplification, electric instruments, brass instruments,keyboard instruments, musical notation, electronic instruments, magnetic tape, vinyl, cassettes, CD, MP3, computers etc etc is only telling part of the story.

Without all that, focus on who influenced whom is an angels on the head of a pin debate, because without all that, popular music as we know it would not, could not exist. Thus those keen to bang the afrocentric drum (hey, bit of a pun there!) have to first discard all that white baggage. A bit like the economists and the tin opener joke.

Truth said...

"Hah, gangster rap was made by people with NO musical talent, as befits a musical art form that is not music, and not art. What was Snoop Dogg's musical training? Choir boy, drug dealer."

Well, I wouldn't say that rap has NO value. If you look under the surface, rap is often sociological thesis the serves to elucidate the root causes of the hatred of wealthy rappers by guys like you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFLow5StvvU

Truth said...

"You act like whites sat around listening to polka music before the hep black cats showed up to teach them how to groove."

Are you sure they didn't? Was that just Poles?

georgesdelatour said...

It's important to separate what McLaren said from what he did. He may have sold the Sex Pistols as a terrible band who couldn't play their instruments. But he sought out Chris Thomas to produce one of the best sounding rock albums ever. Play "Never Mind The Bollocks" then play pretty much any of the Clash albums. The Pistols album sounds so much better produced. Blink 182 spent pretty much their whole career trying to copy the sound of that album.

Later on, McLaren continued to work with brilliant producers - Trevor Horn, Steven Hague.

McLaren always went to New York to find the next big thing - first with punk, then with hip hop, then with, err, voguing (which he didn't really pull off, and where Madonna beat him to the post). Coming from a fashion background he was locked into a constant search for novelty. That's probably why it always turned into just one album then move on. It's actually a disastrous attitude for an artist manager, which should be all about nurturing long term careers.

One other McLaren approach - so simple really - was about deliberately throwing opposites together to see what happens. There was opera and hip hop, waltzes and r'n'b. Even before that, he had Sid Vicious's "My Way" arranged by Simon Jeffes of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and later set some of his bands to Jeffes for music lessons.

Anonymous said...

every music historian agrees about the seminal role of black Americans in creating the new fusion of European classical musical influences and African rhythms.



What "African rhythms"? What "fusion"? The music played by blacks in America owes far more to European folk music then to anything from Africa. Africa itself remains a musical wasteland and not the well-spring of musical creation.

Anonymous said...

That's the straw man in your head speaking. There are many great white vernacular musicians before the 1950s, but just about all of them -- from Gershwin to Jimmie Rogers to Bob Wills -- the influence from jazz and blues is clear.


Sounds like you are again saying that whites sat around listening to polka before the hep black cats showed up and taught them how to groove.

helene edwards said...

I was wondering when Truth would show up. I think he must be one of the two black men who was at the swimming pool at U.C. Berkeley one day in the spring of '95. I'm resting at the end of a lane when I hear the following from up on the deck: "we blowin' they minds; they think black people can't swim."