Duck Rock is an album released by British impresario Malcolm McLaren. It was originally issued in 1983 by Charisma Records, Virgin Records, and Chrysalis Records, and later re-released on CD in 1987. The album mixes up styles from South Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the United States, including hip hop. The album proved to be highly influential in bringing hip hop to a wider audience in the United Kingdom. Two of the singles from the album, "Buffalo Gals" and "Double Dutch", became major chart hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Duck Rock was dedicated to Harry McClintock, better known as Haywire Mac. The album artwork was designed by Dondi White and Nick Egan, with the illustration by Keith Haring. Guest musicians featured on this album include Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley, J. J. Jeczalik, and Thomas Dolby. Side recordings that Horn, Dudley and Jeczalik made in between takes of Duck Rock would eventually become the first album of the Art of Noise, Into Battle with the Art of Noise. Clips of the World's Famous Supreme Team radio show appear between songs, which made the album one of the earliest recordings on which members of the Nation of Gods and Earths appear.Wikipedia
Wow, this was a cool change of pace. A bit of world music, mixed with our first venture into hip hop. Very rudimentary hip hop, but it's a start. Oh but of course our first "hip hop" album would be British. I really dug the opening three tracks. I had no idea Eminem sampled "Buffalo Gals," but now I know. It also sounds like El-P may have sampled part of that track on Killer Mike's "Go!" but it's not quite the same. Anyway, the album lost steam for me after the first few songs, but it's still a cool cultural and historical piece. It's weird that this is partially classified as a "novelty" album, but I guess it makes sense to ease '80s Brits into hip hop lest they lose their lunch. Favorite tracks: Obatala, Buffalo Gals, Double Dutch. Album art: Really cool and creative. An insanely tricked-out boombox. I love the colors and design of this one a lot. 3.5/5
1001 Albums Generator Day 8 Firstly, Keith Haring painted the pink background of the sleeve, and yesterday marked 32 years since he died. He was just 31. If you only have a few minutes to spare, don't read my waffle, go and look at some of his work instead. Duck Rock makes me think of Malcolm McLaren as a rock ‘n’ roll fan who was slightly too young for the first wave. It was the era before pirate stations, when radio meant The Light Programme, so it would have been big brother music. It wasn't until he was 18 that Radio Caroline and Radio London started up, and I can only imagine how exciting that was. Perhaps as a teenager he shared singles with friends, and went to pubs that turned a blind eye to hear local bands who’d got hold of an import no-one else had to cover in their set. By the time of the British Invasion, maybe there was a new confidence among British pop fans that they too could innovate and take the lead but, even for The Beatles, there was nowhere more fascinating than America. When Malcolm visited New York and saw first-hand that pop was being reborn he wouldn’t have wanted to miss out again. With the samples of the World’s Famous Supreme Team woven through the music, Duck Rock captures some of the excitement at the beginning of the rap era with the feel of a lovingly compiled mixtape. The blend of diverse traditions – funk, mbaqanga, toasting etc – unpicks some of the threads of the culture McLaren was exploring. The addition of merengue, square dance and his own fake American accent emphasises the sense of an outsider looking in, trying to take in the whole city at once, and understanding hip-hop as a folk-dance culture while trying out something that could easily have sounded as corny as H-E-double-hockey-sticks. The mix of a white country tradition with Black South African music reminds me of the blend of televangelists’ frenzy and west African funk on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, but with a less anthropological and more playful feel. Of course, McLaren was always a provocateur, and for him the appeal of piracy was in the romance of rebellion and the celebration of theft. Never being in an underdog role, that pretty much always led him to some degree of exploitation. His advocacy of home taping through Bow Wow Wow is defensible; his ideas about “noble savages,” treatment of Anabella Lwin and the abandoned Chicken magazine much less so. Duck Rock brings up some huge issues with ownership and authorship in the emerging “world music” market which were already present in folk and blues and continue to be discussed with regards to hip-hop today. There’s also the question of how much McLaren had to do with this record musically. Vocals aside, I imagine him as the forerunner to Paul Morley in the Art of Noise, suggesting the concept, sitting in the studio chatting excitedly with Trevor Horn about their favourite records and then letting him get on with it. For a record made by a super-producer team, it has the feel of something a friend made for you by hovering over the pause button, and perhaps that’s where McLaren earned the credit he is due.
I’m not sure how important this album was in the timeline of what was going on when it came out, but I feel like it captured an environment pretty well. Very cool and interesting throughout.
5.0 - Fucking SHIT, why am I JUST discovering this album? It's a non-stop party with the most stylish flair courtesy of the early 1980s, back when British gay culture was probably peaking (on that count, only time will tell). And, just WOW, the radio samples are INCREDIBLE. Even if this album is baldfaced English cultural appropriation, I give Malcom McLaren a huge pass for rearranging so many elements and creating a BULLWHIP of a record!
Weird that this was mainly nerdy white Brits introducing me to this music way back then. Listening back now it's well produced, clean, marshmallowy and very 80's. Still, it's pretty good and certainly made a splash in 1983. It's a corny, catchy collection stolen from other continents and is a one-off oddity of Hip Hop, Latin and African beats. This chart captures moments like this. It's a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 just to irritate the baby chick zoomers who give this one star.
What a strange album. I didn't really get into any of the songs, but it was pretty fun to listen to
"Duck Rock" is an album from impresario (love that word) Malcolm McLaren. He is credited as a singer and figure caller though. This album mixes styles from South Africa, South and Central America, the Caribbean and the US (hip hop, country). The musicians included Trevor Horn (beats, mixing), Anne Dudley (keyboards, strings), J.J. Jeczalik (synthesizers) and Thomas Dolby (keyboards). Horn, Dudley and Jeczalik were recording The Art of Noises' first album "Into Battle with the "Art of Noise" at the time in a side studio and you hear a lot of what I would call Art of Noice music throughout. Also, The World's Famous Supreme Team, rappers/DJ's Sedivine the Mastermind and Just Allah the Superstar, contribute in songs and between songs. Somehow uncredited but just as important is the South African group Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. The songs they are involved in are some of the best on the album. This album was very influential in world music and hip hop. It is a great album, tons of fun. Every song changes style to some extent but flows throughout very nicely. The first single and biggest song on the album is "Buffalo Gals" which has rapping, scratching, back-up female singers and a rapper calling a square dance. Sampled and influential in the future to/by Neneh Cherry and Eminem. "Double Dutch, the third single, has South African beats, Malcolm McLaren doing the singing/calling and Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens supplying the back-up singing. This song would not sound out of place on Paul Simon's "Graceland." Speaking of Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, they take the lead on the second single and my favorite song on the album, "Soweto." This is a very happy-sounding song. It is South African in style but I thought I heard a Caribbean vibe. Just an incredible chorus going by the Mahotella Queens. And how can I not mention the last single, "Duck for the Oyster," in which McLaren is calling a square dance and it sounds like it belongs on a chipmunks album. This is a totally ridiculous song yet I loved it. Do-si-do anyone? This was a blast. I had no idea what I was in for. The hip hop, world music and country-tinged music all combined perfectly fine.
It was probably ground breaking at the time of release and introduced different musical styles to new audiences but in terms of quality it's not doing much. How is Malcom McLaren credited with this album? It's a compilation.
I know this came out before it but this is just a worse version of Graceland with some dodgy rapping thrown in for good measure.
I was thinking as I listened to one of the songs, this sounds a lot like Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. And of course, it was. At times, this seems like a collection of African Music vs a MM LP, yet he doesn't credit the original musicians. If you were to compare this to efforts we received by Byrne/Eno or Moby, (who do credit the original artists) they used only snippets of the original material, completely transformed them so that the accompanying instrumentals could stand on their own. MM doesn’t do much to the original tracks and his actual “original" compositions sound like square dances.
I’m glad this helped to bring hip-hop to Britain, especially as early as 1983, and a lot of the songs are catchy to be sure, but I simply cannot like this album because Malcom is such an awful person. Some people say he’s a genius- he’s a genius alright, he was genius enough to realize he had no talent himself so he stole the talents of others and put his name on it. First it was the Sex Pistols, now it’s black artists. While listening to this album, the whole time I’m thinking “who did he steal this from” and that we should just be listening to the original albums instead. I recognize that all music is essentially stolen, but it’s important to give the influences their due. McLaren had no intention of ever doing that.
This is the first album that I don't know either the album or the artist and I'm pretty glad for that. I have a hard time listening to this album because it's a British white guy appropriating musical styles from South Africa, Central and South America, and hip hop. The Wikipedia notes mention that it was influential in making hip hop popular in the UK. It's not even that great a representation of any of those styles. It's pretty difficult to listen to a lot of these albums with a musical appreciation and NOT think these things. I didn't even make it through the whole album I was so annoyed.
legit. probably some complications with attribution etc, but the sound biz is so good on my earholes.
I don't want to give the excuse that this didn't land because I'm British; but this bland country-rock simply didn't connect with me at all. Boring music, boring lyrics, happy to see the back of this - my Steve Earle comments, but the app glitched. Duck Rock - this was an unexpected joy. Who knows how much of that old charlatan McLaren's input actually made it to the record? Should I care? This is a kaleidoscopic blending of all kinds of influences, yet sounds surprisingly coherent. Love it!
Wild and fun. I don't think I've ever heard an album quite like this one. A breath a of fresh air
Yes! Easy 5. Especially listening to it on duckduckgo. Problem is - this is an album of carefully crafted transitions that need to be fully appreciated on hard media, not via YouTube with ads dividing every fucking track. Keep that in mind while experiencing this album in a format that's kind of antithetical to it.
Loooooved it. In my top 5 so far
Wasn't too sure about this at first but it turned out to be a solid fun album. Once it got going it reminded me a lot of street festivals/carnivals I had been to in my youth with all the exhilaration of the communal party atmosphere that they had. Really didn't like that last song 'Duck for the Oyster' but the rest of the album I would happily listen to again.
I've told anyone who cares to listen that my favourite genre is Soweto music from the 80s / 90s. As such, this album had me excited and clicking around to find some ZAR tunes to intersperse with the songs on Malcom's LP. I also learned the proper name of the genre I like is mbaqanga. I'll forget that by tomorrow. Wiki says he didn't give credit to Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens for vocals. It's more than just vocals isn't it? It sure sounds like Mahathini's lead guitarist Max Mankwane's licks on Double Dutch. (Listen to Gazette by Mahlathini and you'll see what I mean.) I suppose David Birch, the only guitar player credited, could have played this style of guitar. He lived in South Africa and was John Lennon's cousin so he has the resume / lineage to have studied and learned the style. A moderate amount of rapping comes out to play on World Famous and is well received. To close, Duck for the Oyster brings out the fiddle and gets the ole barn floor rockin. Finally, the faux radio show clips are kinda fun. This was bizarre but it's my kind of bizarre.
This was very interesting! I listened to this while running errands in my car, over the span of two days. It was fun and engaging to have on. This isn't the type of thing I normally listen to but I enjoyed it. It was so musically dense, I feel like I need to listen to it again at least once.
Exactly what I’m looking for an in album and exactly what I hope for Every single day when I load up this website. Thanks.
There's so much more to this album than simply Buffalo Gals and a song about skipping. It's rich in styles, piecing together different cultures and seeing where it takes you. Yep, Malcolm was the great magpie. A musical thief who lifted other ideas for his own benefit. But he had the vision to look a little further afield whilst others stayed at home. I had no idea Thomas Dolby was involved in this. The best album artwork ever?
This album was one of my gateways into hip hop. A classic, with a star-studded cast. This listen through I found the eclectic nature of the various styles a little jarring in places, but it sounded revolutionary at the time. I’d give this 5 stars just for the joyous bounce of Double Dutch, but this is still a great listen and a hugely influential album.
Having skipped out on this for two weeks - life generally having got on top of me - I come back to this after being recommended the absolutely dismal Urban Hymns by The Verve. Well. Is this seriously from 1982? Like seriously? And from the former manager of The New York Dolls and The Sex Pistols? Wow. This album is piggin' great. It comes at you from every direction - hip hop, hodown, electronic, African - it's all over the shop, yet still completely coherent and cohesive. I'm genuinely impressed.
I've never heard this one. It's great.
Loved it, wasn’t expecting it to be as interesting as it is.
Well this is just loads of fun, especially when McLaren isn't speaking. You've got the Art of Noise, you've got Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens (massively not cool that they were uncredited - wtf), you've got Thomas Dolby, you've got the pirate DJs the Supreme Team all smooshed together by Trevor Horn and the gang. There's so much to love. Keith Haring cover art as well. It's so ubiquitously 80s, it's kind of wonderful. Even if McLaren comes across as one of the creepiest dudes ever, and most of this album is magpie-ing shit from everywhere - and although that is kind of the entire point, see above, pay those people! They made half the record pop. Also love happening upon another PWEI sample (end of Merengue = end of 88 Seconds...and still counting) Man From Delmonte stole the Makgona Tsohle Band sound (specifically on Water in My Eyes which I still love) and mixed it with Marr/Orange Juice guitar, and although no-one seems to have heard of them these days I still like them. This album sent me off on a journey of listening to all of the above over the course of the day. Therefore, inspirational.
This is a really fun album. I've never heard of this one but really enjoyed it. Lots of upbeat songs with a unique theme and flow to the album. The interstitial radio-style talking and introductions give everything a really cohesive feel. I can definitely see the influence this album has had on modern music. Glad this one came up in my feed today. Standout Tracks: Obatala, Buffalo Gals, Double Dutch, Merengue, Punk It Up, Jive My Baby, Soweto
7/10 FT: Buffalo girls
Great mix of worldly songs
This is an interesting mix of styles. I don’t really know what I expected it to be, but it’s more diverse than I expected.
Kinda loved this? Feels waaay ahead of its time for 1983, but maybe I’m just out of the loop. The only thing I can compare it to are moments from The Avalanches. Feels like an interesting collage, but unsurprising to read that none of the African musicians were credited. (Shocking)
Wow, what a ride! World music put together in the finest way. The hip hop seems out of place with 2021 eyes, but overall, the album is really fun and enjoyable, and I’m shocked at this man’s early exposure to African music, 4 years before Paul Simon’s Graceland.
This one was very interesting. I’m not one for skits but this one did capture early radio stations I heard growing up. I liked the music once it got started. Solid album.
This is classified as Hip/Hop but I can barely hear it. Not saying it's a bad thing because I really liked the album. I also liked hearing the part Eminem sampled as well as the Run The Jewels sample, but overall, this album was super funky and unique with every song. The little quips where the people were calling in reminded me of Kurupt Fm (People just do nothing) when they would have their little conversations on the songs, but I didn't really like those parts in this album. My favorite tracks were Buffalo Gals and Merengue (especially how fast-paced that song was, made me wanna hit the Me te llamo Latin jazz Tony K Dort dance). Yoooo, this album would be wacky after hitting a spliff (drooling emoji).
Desconcertante. Me parece interesante la propuesta ecléctica, aunque llega a sacar de onda que no siempre se mezclan los ritmos muy orgánicamente que digamos, de repente tuve que parar Song for Chango para asegurarme de que no tenía dos canciones superpuestas por accidente en otra pestaña. Canción que más me gustó: Jive my baby, tiene una ondida buena ondita. Mood: en té de tila y espresso al mismo tiempo
Idk if this was intentional but I can't look at their album cover and not see a geoduck. This was enjoyable! Not something I'd usually listen to or actively seek out, but fun. Think the DJing took a sec to get used to and I still think it's a bit weird, but I came around. Groovy beats. Solid 4
Pretty cool, feels like i’m Listening to a weird independent radio station. Last song is pretty bad tho.
World music explotaition de la máxima calidad. Curioso que el My Life in the Bush of Ghosts de Brian Eno y David Byrne sea considerado una obra de arte y este está medio olvidado, yo lo percibo como que lo consideran vulgar. Parten de lo mismo, anglosajones tomando la música del tercer mundo para hacer lo que se les da la gana con eso. Brillante resultado. Malcolm era un wey que hacía arte a partir de su gusto, y este disco demuestra que su gusto es impecable. Sí, familia, el gusto existe, no se crean esas patrañas que dicen que no. Aquí hay merengue, rap de la escuela de tus abuelitos, electro, pop africano, collage, found sounds.
The opening track sounds like something playing in the little China section of Epcot. I obviously loved it. I had to Google what year Paul Simon's Graceland came out after hearing 'Double Dutch' (1986, 3 years after this) because this definitely sounds like an influence. 'Soweto' is my favourite track which again mixes that world music sound with a driving guitar riff.
Sem sombra de dúvidas o album mais aleatório que eu já ouvi e um dos mais divertidos.
this is groovy as all hell - what even?? crazy stuff!
love this old freewheelin experimental shit. can recognize the avalanches / the books in here
Kinda kitschy, but the grooves, tunes and especially bass lines are worth almost every minute. I enjoyed it despite my dim expectations.
Weird but impressive album for 1983, world music, hip hop, and all kinds of unique elements ahead of their time.
A really fun sounding album. Very dancabke
Wiki have this listed as novelty, I struggle to see how they get to that. There were hints of grandmaster flash and Herbie Hancock through the album. I’ve heard Double Dutch many times in the past as a single but never ventured into the album, I didn’t know what I was missing Wasn’t keen on duck for the oyster and Obatala didn’t really seem to fit into the album well but the rest of them I could get into and liked
Un popurrí del copón. Me ha gustado y todo...
Issues with cultural appropriation aside, ‘Duck Rock’ is that strange blend of hip hop, Latin, South African and Caribbean rhythms, silly Malcolm McLaren lyrics, Bronx DJ radio show snippets, and square-dancing music you never knew you needed in your life until now.
Not a fan of music like this, but I enjoyed the sounds!
Up until this album the only hip hop I had heard Rapture by Blondie and a few Sugarhill and Furious Five tracks. OK I was not quite 10 but for this lanky carnival barker who was told was someone important, it was time to give this genre a listen. It was also my first introduction to so called world music as well, years before Paul Simon colonised the genre. Having said that, I am taking a star off for McLaren and Trevor Horn's failure to credit Boyoyo Boys or Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. Anyway great album, essential really because of the fact that the same guy who a few years earlier was marketing Punk bought Hip Hop to a wider appeal. I was lucky to pick this up on vinyl a few years ago so am pretty happy with that
A truly unusual album, with a mix of genres. Great fun.
Really liked it. Good for late-night listening.
Love a good production showcase
avant-garde early hip-hop? hip-hop to play for your parents? i don't know what genre this album is. i like it though.
All over the place some of it liked some I wasn't so fond of but this was definitely a ride.
who else wants to eat mushrooms and stay up until 1985 to catch the 4am show?
Skrýtið og skemmtilegt. 11 ára ég var boppandi eins og ég veit ekki hvað.
Can’t work it out. I kinda really admire it and it’s properly uplifting but I just can’t ever imagine choosing to listen to it again. It’s the exact reason why I thought Id do this though as have never come across it previously!
I really enjoyed this album. It's a shame it's credited to Malcolm McLaren given that he did fuck all, isn't a musician, and is a bell end.
V enjoyable! Would be a great album to pop on at a party. Just fun and unexpected.
I was really happy to see this record appear on this list because it was such a huge influence on developing my musical tastes, I particularly love the ambient/tribal sounds of Obatala and Legba. This was made years before Paul Simon (similarly stole from South African musicians) but I won’t go there. This is also worlds away from the Sex Pistols and it is one of the groundbreaking records that ushered in hip hop, even though the scratching and lyrics are pretty dated. McLaren gets an extra point for recruiting some top shelf talent - Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley, and JJ Jeczalik who would go on to form the 80s seminal group, The Art of Noise, and also notable pop culture artist Keith Haring for the album cover.
Broad spectrum of genres crammed onto a single album. Somehow works
Enjoyed this kind of all over the place. Buffalo Gals is so recognizable because of all the samples in hip hop and rock Fave tracks: “Jive My Baby” “Buffalo Gals”
I really liked this album, the concept worked really well, and the transition between american radio DJ conversations and music from many different genres was cool. This album reminded me of 'Songs for the Deaf', probably just because of the radio chatter between songs. Last song was a weird one (Duck for the Oyster), a weird squaredancing jaunt. The weirdest thing though was the constant reference to callers into the show as 'female', lol there are so many better words to use!
13th July 2022 Listened while in the office. Had book club in Hyde park in the evening. Actually really enjoyed this, it was like leaving some random radio on for an hour. Great fun.
What a delightfully wacky record... loved it.
Never heard of them before. I liked it.
When I first heard the 2 singles from the the 80s I thought it was a bit of a gimmick. . In retrospect it is way ahead of its time transposing Soweto rhythms with hip hop and Art of Noise dynamics. A solid 4 for its sheer exuberance. (And i usually hate 80s albums)
What a unique album. Strange blend of hip-hop and some pseudo-Calypso/tribal? Then it basically ended with a hoedown... I just don't know what to make of it. Would definitely listen again.
Funny album. Quite hard to decide if I like it or not but it's fairly pleasant to listen to.
Much better than I had imagined
This is a really odd mix… not very cohesive but full of some great eclectic bangers. Can see how this was considered extremely influential!
just interesting as fuck😂
In early 1983, I was crazy about breakdancing. The only thing left in life (having satisfied my parents by being admitted to the most selective * secondary school in Nigeria **) was to become a professional breakdancer. To throw shapes. To have the MC hail me by name (what happened to MCs, actually?). To be an associate member of the Rock Steady Crew (and for a while, in a ghoulish extension of the rumour that Crazy Legs had broken his neck doing a headspin, a full member.) Anyways, all I did all day was to to watch pre-MTV videos incorporating breakdancing in one form or another. Bits of Herbie Hancock's 'Rokit'. MJ backsliding in 'Billie Jean'. Kraftwerk's 'Tour de France'. (Tour de France's video, as far as I recall, does not have any breakdancing. But there was an alternative clip that they showed on telly sometimes, that scene from Breakin', Shrimp with the broom. It moved me to tears every time. Tears of rage and frustration, mind; he was so good, I was so...not.) And Malcolm MacLaren and his All-Stars' 'Buffalo Gals'. MacLaren was a thieving magpie. But (and I'm not sure whether this is to his credit or not), he never denied it. And (and this is to his credit) he was usually very curious, and thus creative w/r/t what he was thieving and repositioning. In '83, this song was kind of like Gaga's Let's Dance 25 years on. Dazzled by the video, I never really considered the song on its merits at the time. But unlike the song that launched a thousand to the power of a thousand Little Monsters, 'Buffalo Gals' is actually good. Very good. As too is Duck Rock. It's belongs to a narrow and narrowing school of inquisitive pop, made by people who have large egos, great memories, and enough bluster about them to get crazy great things funded and made. (Damon Alburn is another example. And to be clear, this is intended as the highest praise possible). * At the time. Also depends on how you define the word "selective" ** I thought I had satisfied my parents. [Hollow/bitter laugh]
Super eclectic. Some hip-hoppy, some almost mariachi, some more punky. Definitely a good ride
This shit is nuts. Love it
This was such a unique album i didn’t know what to expect. Each song was different than the next.
What the hell was that? Certainly not a traditional album but I couldn't not like it
This is a wonderful album.
Kinda kitschy, but the grooves, tunes and especially bass lines are worth almost every minute. I enjoyed it despite my dim expectations. (prior listen)
A conceptual piece as much as a recording of music, Duck Rock represents Malcolm McLaren's insistence that he was at least as much a creative drive as the bands he (mis)managed, and that the ideas behind the music were usually far more important than the music itself. So yes, very meta. I should explain a bit of history as to the genesis of this album, or, if you will, what Malcolm did after what Malcolm did next. The Sex Pistols' film, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, sought to present McLaren as the great Svengali not so much managing a band as forming a sculpture from living people, his campaign of cynical bad taste revealing the hypocrisy of the industries in which he traded. But before its release, John Lydon had quit the band onstage, sick of, amongst other things, the attempts at manipulation by the manager. Later, Steve Jones and Paul Cook had wised up to McLaren and walked out themselves, leaving Sid Vicious to his nihilistic death-spiral. With the Sex Pistols defunct and McLaren having lost control even of the aspects that were legitimately his, he retreated to his beloved Paris to score softcore pornography with African music. Whilst there, he developed two very dubious ideas. The first was to form a new band, but this time with people more easily manipulated. The second was to continue the aesthetic of shock and bad taste, but this time based on underage sex. To combine these two ideas in a really, really grim fashion, he founded the band Bow Wow Wow with a 14-year-old singer, Annabella Lwin (he was also managing Adam Ant around this time, and the rest of Bow Wow Wow came from former Ants). In McLaren's ambition, Bow Wow Wow were to represent both a bitten thumb against the gloom of PiL, Joy Division and their ilk, with a return to bubblegum pop infused with African polyrhythms (stick a pin in that for later), and also an overt statement that pop surreptitiously trafficked in imagery of sexualised children (think Britney Spears in the Baby One More Time video, an example McLaren would certainly have proposed himself). That is, McLaren saw himself as merely saying the quiet part loud. You may think, with real justification, that McLaren had already crossed several lines with this use of paedophilic conceits, but he stomped ever further onwards. At one point he ordered the band to take Lwin's virginity in order to make her more compliant (they did not), he had the band recreate Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe for an album cover, which involved Lwin stripping naked, and he talked about founding a magazine which would serve as a Playboy for children, to be called Playkids and later Chicken. Despite all this, Bow Wow Wow never quite became a succès de scandale like the Pistols, and so McLaren became bored of the group. Believing that Lwin was inadequate as a spokesperson for his schemes, he decided to forgo the chores of managing a band and make an album of his own. One point to note about McLaren's work is his skittishness, his tendency to fire out ideas continually without developing them further. This often resulted in half-baked takes mashed together, as McLaren would flit from pirate clothing to Appalachian square dancing. Duck Rock was originally conceived to exploit McLaren's grasshopper nature by incorporating the multitude of ideas that appealed to McLaren at that time, such as Cuban rhythms, Cajun, Soweto, scratching, hobo iconography, skipping, and Puccini (the working title was Folk Dances of the World). Crucially, McLaren enlisted the then-hottest producer in pop, Trevor Horn. On paper, the two men should have found each other detestable: McLaren saw the pop Horn specialised in as safe and passionless, whereas Horn had always thought Never Mind the Bollocks was all artifice, a studio creation by the producer with no authenticity whatsoever. However, both charmed each other and were genuinely engaged by each other's ideas and suggestions. McLaren and Horn wanted to travel the world recording, well, world music, but slim finances meant that they had to make do with just South Africa and (thankfully for the project, highly multicultural) New York. This focus (well, as much focus as you could say a project of this nature could have) begat the hip-hop/world music fusion we have here. What is McLaren's role in this album? A legitimate question. It's oft tricky to discern what McLaren's impact on a song is. McLaren was in no way a musician, and was so rhythmless that Trevor Horn resorted to beating out the rhythms on McLaren's chest as he sang. Indeed, a more accurate accreditation may well have Horn's name alongside McLaren on the cover. Horn found that McLaren's lack of expertise (or even competence) enabled Horn to indulge himself in seeing what the studio could do. In fact, the whole album can be considered an indulgence. McLaren's compulsive flicking between whatever ideas he fancied at that instant is indulgent. Attempting to weld together musical traditions of several cultures separated by continents is indulgent (also, there's a slight, sour resonance between McLaren's use of African music and how European scholars used to label African art as "primitive art"). Asserting that the music is the least important part to your record is indulgent. Believing that the youth of the world would turn your way when you click your fingers is indulgent. A critical person would say it's also delusional. But aside from that, Duck Rock, as much as it is a conceptual piece, is also a recording of music. And as that, separated from McLaren's artsy shenanigans, it's rather good. Remember that indulgence usually brings pleasure, if the occasional stomach-ache. The attempt to swipe music from all around the world does make the album feel vast and ardent. Employing then-nascent hip-hop techniques does feel visionary. Seeking a music beyond the battered stencils of rock and pop does feel laudible. Of course, the attempts to innovate in 1983 inevitably leads occasional moments to sound passé in 2022, so Duck Rock settles at 4 stars. Maybe 20 years down the line, the dissipation of time will make Duck Rock sound as alive as a teenager, but maybe not. I'm not Nate Silver, am I? NoRadio, signing off.
TWO BUFFALO GALS GO AROUND THE OUTSIDE, ROUND THE OUTSIDE, ROUND THE OUTSIDE
I feel like I don’t really get this album like there’s something to “get” that I’m missing it’s a fun album but I was kinda confused by why it sounds the weird way it does, idk might need some context to understand this 7/10
Surprising great! To be honest I went into listening to this with a closed mind, "Rap!", I found myself really enjoying this.
After hearing the keyboards, I was not at all surprised to learn Trevor Horn and Thomas Dolby contributed to this album.
MM, dodgy geezer, but had vision and a magpie like ability to capture and cannibalise the zeitgeist to thoroughly mix metaphors. Not heard this album all the way through before, but Buffalo Gals and Double Dutch have always been up there as two of my favourite tracks of all time. The Japanese inflected Obatala is a lovely start. Elements of hip hop, Country, Southern African music abound. Great stuff
I enjoyed this far more than I expected. It's Graceland, but if Paul Simon had gotten into hip hop. And couldn't sing for shit. I'll probably buy this now, it's that good.
That was wild. It really felt like flipping through radio stations. It was a great use of the radio hosts between songs too. The variation between genres was cool too. 8.5/10
Ok, this was a very entertaining listen. Kinda questionable premise overall, but if you just give in and accept the colonialism then I find it fascinating that McLaren co-opted hip-hop, South African choral work, and _line dancing_, and blended them all together! 😆 There's a definite ambient sensibility in the way the tracks all flow together. Fave track - "Jive My Baby Jive" is a stomp. "Obatala" kinda prefigures vaporwave!
I enjoyed this more than I expected to.
4/29 A Bronx radio show playing eclectic sets of music from around the world. Strange concept executed pretty well, quite groovy. Standout Tracks: Obatala, Buffalo Gals, Double Dutch, World's Famous
What on God's polluted earth was this? Weird fun to listen to. Somewhere between a plunderphonics, lo-fi chill beats to relax to 24/7, and a compilation album. Last track is the fucking weirdest. Favorite tracks: "Double Dutch", "World's Famous"
interesting album, quite diverse, has an eminem sample
intro dialog is annoying but the music is great; interesting variety
Interesting very interesting...