Title: Malcolm McLaren: Swamp thing
Author: Mat Snow
Publish date: 7th December 1985
MALCOLM McLAREN: Swamp Thing (Charisma)
MALCOLM’S EVERY move has the air of capital E Event; every fart is a performance. Expectations therefore run high: not for Malcolm the luxury of a mere contract-filler, another chip off the old block. It’s not that each new release has to be another ‘Duck Rock’ or ‘Fans’ (a great idea slackly executed but for the sublime ‘Madam Butterfly’); au contraire. Each new release has to be different. Radical novelty is the thing, and ‘Swamp Thing’ ain’t it.
“The LP is a collection of musical pieces recorded between 1982 and 1984 on the Duck Rock World Tour — mixed with a number of totally new themes, ideas and material,” owns up the press-release. In other words, out-takes plus cereal-binder and icing. But half of it acquits itself, well, reasonably.
The biggest diffence is the lack of the impetus and unity ‘Duck Rock’ possessed in its supercharged jock-scratch ‘tween tracks, giving the LP from first to last the shanty blast of a pan-tropical radio show. Thus ‘Swamp Thing’ plays listlessly end to end; maybe that’s not the way to hear it.
So let’s pretend it’s a bunch of singles.
‘Swamp Thing’: the title track is a lift from The Troggs’ ‘Wild Thing’ which, for all I know, might be as perversely hip in the South Bronx as AC/DC. Malcolm insists on a talk-over, reminding me that he is to his own records what Maxwell is to The Mirror. A limp thing.
‘Duck Rock Cheer’: here find Chic’s device of scratching guitar and elegant tubular bell/vibraphone sounds to relocate the dancefloor to a cathedral’s soaring heights. It chants. It chops. And even the silly old coot himself wheedles away to exhilarating effect.
‘Buffalo Love’: a breathy, yearning disco so colossally average in every respect that only its hint of ’subversive’ bestiality might stop it being massive in the Capri, bottled tan and medallion circuit.
‘Supresto’: the father, son or holy ghost of Art Of Noise drags side one to the run-off groove.
‘B.I. Bikki’: in which the artful dodger plays at Green Goddess, kicking off an appropriately kindergarten chant to accompany kneesbending body fascism with cheeky enjoinders to “Tighten those buns”. A certain cruel charm…
‘Eiffel Tower’: Bow Wow Wow’s ‘Sexy Eiffel Towers’ meets the ‘Double Dutch’ riff. Very British this, the Blue Peter spirit of making do.
‘Boom Boom Baby’: Single Of The Week. My favourite type of dancer — the beat is up but the mood is, if not down, a trifle dark. It is, of course, a variation on ‘Duck Rock’’s brilliant ‘Soweto’.
‘Duck Rockers/Promises’: muscular little bastard son of ‘Duck For The Oyster’ and all the other quackers. Malcolm probably has yards of this stuff still in the can: just put it on the bill, I guess.
That’s four goodies out of eight. Better wait until the 12inchers.