Wednesday, December 27, 2006


It Takes Two (to Make a Thing Go Wrong), Pt. 1

I heard McCartney and Wonder's "Ebony and Ivory" on the radio this morning and thought, what a disappointment that was. Two great pop geniuses, one lousy record. It wasn't the sentiment of the lyrics, which I commend, but the fact that you would expect more from men that gave us the Revolver and Innervisions albums. Two-Tone Ska (which I'll cover tomorrow) did a musically better job of promoting racial harmony.

So, with that in mind, I present other pairings of pop greats that make you want to drive off the side of the road:

Afrika Bambaatta / John Lydon (bka Johnny Rotten), "World Destruction" (1984)

Like Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It, I thought this anti-nuke single was "the bomb" as a teenager. And just like Mr. Lee's first movie, years later I wondered what the heck was I thinking?

Afrika's place in the history of hip hop is well established. John Lydon's place in the history of punk, new wave and alternative is well established. What was not well established on vinyl was a good song that would hold up years later. The beat is a tired, industrial mechanical sound, typical of the 1980's Celluloid record label. The lyrics are the usual high school liberal pedestrian and puerile stuff about THE END OF THE WORLD, although the line "The KGB is smarter than you think!" might be due for a comeback in light of the Litvinenko murder. It sounds as if Bambaataa and the producer had no idea how to integrate Lydon into the record, and his presence is grating rather than elevating.

If you want a better, pre-Run-DMC/Aerosmith pairing of Rock and Rap, try my favorite record of 1985, "Sun City" by the great "Little Steven" Van Zandt. Teaming with Van Zandt were Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC, Bono, Springsteen, Lou Reed, George Clinton .... **whew** and many, many, more.


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