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Friday, 13 May 2011

Waiting On - Marvin Gaye vs Fugazi

Marvin Gaye 'What's Going On' vs Fugazi 'Waiting Room'

Written by Al Cleveland, Ronaldo Benson, Marvin Gaye, Ian McKaye
Arranged by IronicHide

(c) Tamla 1971, Dischord 1989

Why aren't there more mashes of Fugazi's Waiting Room? That's what mashup legend Party Ben once asked.

I'm afraid I don't have an answer beyond not enough people knowing Fugazi's work. Or there's a stumbling block with Waiting Room.

As PB points out, there's a lot of instrumental parts to the track. The trouble is that the chorus isn't one of them. Normally, as you know, compadre, we'd just duplicate and invert the stereo tracks, have ourselves an insta-instrumental. That doesn't work for Fugazi. They're punk, amigo, and that means gang choruses. That means the inversion trick will slightly amplify the voices. (Well, it does on my machine, chief.)

So what you can hear here is the penultimate swing through the chorus riff (which doesn't have voices), replicated at the requisite points. I'd hoped to churn out a straight A+B mashup for once but seeing as I was forced to chop and change Fugazi I thought I'd get cheeky and repeat the intro (my favourite bit) halfway through as a makeshift breakdown (with a bit of bass amplification to smooth things over).

I like to think that Marvin Gaye and Ian MacKaye would be good friends. It's hard to think of two individuals who were / are more passionate or committed to their music and to the message that their music can bring. Both men have seen greater sales and bigger trophies go to contemporaries who have been happier to pick up a paycheque than push their musical palette.

One was a Motown prodigy who wanted to challenge the talent around him to play to the highest standards and spread a message of peace and understanding. The other was the punk who started Straight Edge but went off on a conceptual-compositional minimalist tangent.

Both liked letting The Man know just how fed up with him they were. Both seemed to stop short of ever storming a barricade over it, though. I'd imagine they'd both like to sit down with The Man and make him aware of their concerns. There would even be biscuits. I would pour the tea. This is still my imagination.

Similarly, there was an uck-fup with the version of Gaye's acapella I had to work with. I was assured it was the famous studio acapella that had been floating around Detriot in the '70s but there was still a crackle of music behind him (that I erased to the nearest nano-second) and the first chorus has a big glitch in it. What you can hear is the second chorus sung by Gaye, used twice, but cut to sound different and jive and loose and all that.

There's also a lot of Gaye's scat cut out of the mashup, certainly to fit the running time (the shorter the better) but more because he starts throwing in some chromatics and notes that are off-key for Fugazi's unwavering pentatonic. The "Be-bop"s and "Alright"s you can hear over the outro weren't meant to be there, they were cast-offs that I'd just slid out of view over to the right of my screen before adding in the last chorus and the end of Waiting Room. I only remembered they were there at all when listening back to the segue from chorus to outro (in to which they had mistakenly overlapped).

I liked it and, without too many tweaks, kept it. It sounds like Gaye approves of what MacKaye, his band and his track are doing.

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