November 9, 2011 1 Comment
One of the great albums of the aughts was The Grey Album, a remix record that came out of nowhere in 2004. In the simplest sense, it overlaid Jay-Z’s raps from The Black Album over Beatles backing tracks from The White Album. But the record was so much more than that. Its deconstructions of the Beatles tracks were creative, audacious and mind-boggling, and set Jay-Z’s raps in compelling settings that made an already terrific album even better. Moreover, the vociferous attempt by EMI — the rights-holder to the Beatles catalogue — to quash the distribution of this viral hit made it a flashpoint for copyright issues in the digital age.
Shouldn’t music evolve, be deconstructed and rebuilt, allow for variations on a theme and blends of musical ideas? (Paul McCartney agreed with this viewpoint, and said he thought the remix was pretty awesome. Jay-Z obviously loved it, since the comparison was pretty flattering.) EMI eventually gave up trying to enforce its copyright, because the album became so popular and so acclaimed that stopping its distribution was impossible. NME wrote, “For what it is, for what it does, for what it represents and for exposing the idiocy of people who only care about ‘what it earns us’, then, a truly, TRULY great pop record.”
The man who created this amazing album and prompted these interesting questions was Danger Mouse, born Brian Burton, a producer who has gone on to be one of the top creators of great music in our time. The list of musicians he has collaborated extensively with speaks for itself: Cee-Lo Green, Damon Albarn, MF DOOM, Beck, Mark Linkous, James Mercer, the Black Keys, Jack White, even David Lynch. His unique aesthetic, encyclopedic musical knowledge, and impeccable taste makes him the #1 producer for any talented artist looking to re-invent a tired sound.
Let’s celebrate the man with a collection of 10 outstanding deep cuts that augment his already-impressive lineup of hit records. Read more of this post