Saturday, May 27, 2006

Jukebox Juicebox #17 - Laissez Faire Go Home

DJ Mark Vidler, aka Go Home Productions, has been responsible for mash-ups for several years now. Typically slow off the mark, I stumbled across the Go Home Productions website more or less by accident, whilst looking up the Julian Cope quote I used for Jukebox Juicebox #13 - Remixology. I’d heard Vidler’s recent remix of Gang Of Four’s “To Hell With Poverty” and was vaguely aware that his mash-ups of David Bowie and Blondie/The Doors had been endorsed by the artists and received a subsequent official release, but that was about it. The Go Home Productions website – and accompanying MySpace page – are a veritable treasure trove, covering Vidler’s output over the last few years.

Mash-ups – ostensibly laying a vocal track from one song onto the backing of another, with a few more disparate samples thrown in for good measure – aren’t a world away from mainstream remixes, especially rap and r&b tracks. However, they can take a bit of getting used to, particularly when the main tracks are so familiar in their original form. My first encounters were the aforementioned Julian Cope’s “World Shut Your Mouth” wedded with Daft Punk’s “Revolution Rock”, followed by The Temptations singing “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” over Coldplay’s “Clocks”. These selections are now mysteriously absent - maybe not all artists or labels are happy with these reinterpretations? The Go Home Productions website’s download content also seems to change on a fairly regular basis, so equally enticing parings (such as Kelis and Duran Duran or Madonna with The Sex Pistols) are also unavailable. At the time of posting, there are about twenty mash-ups available, all of which are naggingly listenable.

Some of Vidler’s GHP mixes are pretty straight pairings: Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight” works surprisingly well with Rod Stewart’s “Maggie Mae”; Liberty X have never sounded cooler with The Residents as a backing band; 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” goes from soppy to sexy, thanks to Marvin Gaye’s intervention. Much of the time, the resulting mix simply shouldn’t work. The fact that each track becomes increasingly addictive with each play makes listening something of a guilty pleasure. Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” welded to Abba’s “Voulez Vous”? Nelly Furtado singing with The Ordinary Boys? The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” retuned to The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer”? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Yet so right.

Vidler’s frequent cheekiness pays dividends. The already brilliant combination of Peaches’ “Rock Show” and The Strokes’ “Juicebox” gets a little push over the edge with “The Theme From ‘The Munsters’”. A second take on “Uptight” introduces The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me”, the latter taking the vocal lead over David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” during the outro. In one of the more extreme examples, Lennon and Radiohead are lightened up with a snatch of Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loopas! The ‘kitchen sink’ approach does overwhelm at times: “Wrapped Detective” stirs in The Police, Elvis Costello, Bob Marley, Peggy Lee, Bob Marley, The Hollies, even Lionel Richie, for a rather overseasoned mix. The mash-up titles would also benefit from the invention that goes into the mixes themselves. Whilst “Uptight Maggie”, “Karma In The Life” and “Rapture Riders” may give strong clues to the mash-ups origin, they’re not overly inspired.

All credit to Vidler for his consistently enjoyable output, though, which seems to be paying off. As well as appearing on Blondie’s most recent “Greatest Hits” compilation, “Rapture Riders” has been featured in an episode of cult US TV show “Alias” and is currently riding high (no pun intended) in the Australian charts. According to the website, Vidler is currently working on a Go Home Productions mash-up album, set for an imminent major label release this year. I'll definitely look out for it.

I’ve been checking out other on-line mash-ups since, but Mark Vidler’s sometimes jaw-dropping mixes are a great starting point. A word of warning, though: some of your favourite songs will never sound the same again.

Current Top 10 listening favourites (in no particular order):

1) Elvis Presley v. The Farm “Strung Out”
2) Peaches v. The Strokes “Juicebox Rock”
3) Liberty X v. The Residents “Kaw Liga X”
4) The Beatles v. The Monkees “Paperback Believer”
5) Stevie Wonder v. Rod Stewart “Uptight Maggie”
6) The Beatles v. Radiohead “Karma In The Life”
7) Echo and the Bunnymen v. Abba “Abba and the Bunnymen”
8) Beastie Boys v. Ian Dury “Triple Rhythm Stick”
9) Beach Boys v. Paul McCartney “I Just Wasn’t Made For The Back Seat Of My Car”
10) Ashanti v. Jane’s Addiction “Rock With Addiction (Awww)”

Mark Vidler / Go Home Productions website

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