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Best Arts and Culture Blog Nominee

Sunday, June 04, 2006


ModMusic: Malcolm McLaren "Deep In Vogue"

Two years before Madonna wrote "Vogue" (and made its trademark dance safe for mainstream audiences), former Sex Pistols impressario Malcolm McLaren had submerged himself in the world of gay African-American and Latino ball culture. The resulting inspirations found voice on his 1989 album Waltz Darling, which included some remarkably funky collaborations. "Deep In Vogue" teamed Malcolm with Bootsy Collins and the Bootzilla Orchestra and featured vocals by Willie Ninja (the dancer featured prominently in the documentary Paris Is Burning). An even stranger concoction, "Algernon's Simply Awfully Good (at Algebra)," was co-written with Eurythmics' David Stewart, sung by a pre-Brand New Heavies N'Dea Davenport, and ripped off a Strauss waltz for the chorus.

Waltz Darling is a catchy but complex album, a glossy riff on cultural and musical appropriation. It wasn't merely a remix; it remixed culture itself, and found its essential human rhythm without sacrificing the rooted truth of its gay origins (unlike Madonna). Malcolm understood that when you borrow, you first pay homage: "this has GOT to be a special tribute to the Houses of New York...LaBeija, Xtravanganza, Magnifique, St. Laurent, Omni, Ebony, Dupree..."

Download: "Deep In Vogue", Malcolm McLaren and the Bootzilla Orchestra
Download: "Algernon's Simply Awfully Good (at Algebra)", Malcolm McLaren feat. Miss N'Dea Davenport
Then Get: Waltz Darling, Malcolm McLaren
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