Malcolm McLaren

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A cynical exploitation of some classical tunes, or a prescient mixing of hip-hop with opera, of low and high culture? One never knows with McLaren. Not that the classics had never mixed with pop before (see "Whiter Shade of Pale," "Stranger in Paradise"), but McLaren was determined to bring the stories of opera kicking and screaming into the pop realm as well. On the single, the beautiful "Madam Butterfly," the formula works transcendently. McLaren plays Colonel Pinkerton and leaves the aria alone backed by hip-hop percussion, and the result is a seamless whole. The rest of the album, unfortunately, exists to pad out the single, and the various arias (from Carmen and Turandot) seemed dropped on top of what are some embarrassing funk R&B grooves. Only "Lauretta" (from Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi) gets close to a successful second try. Look for the 12" single instead.

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