John Lennon said of Revolution #9, the cut & paste sound collage piece regarded by many proponants of "Proper Music" as Not Being Proper Music, that he had expended more time and energy on the creation of that White Album epic than he had on much of his back catalogue, the inference being: 'I can knock out tunes on my acoustic guitar all day. It's stuff like that which is throw-away and lazy and inconsequential, not this. This took real effort. This was the challenge. And it's valid.'
But as much as I like Revolution #9, and could spend all day defending it...it sure ain't funky. It took hip-hop, maybe 7 or 8 years later, to marry the avant-garde cut-ups of postmodernist art as exemplified by Revolution #9, and the dancefloor filling RnB sensibilities of James Brown. Revolution #9 was self-conciously anti-pop - it was designed to shock and disturb and shake the squares from their bourgeois slumber. Grandmaster Flash's The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel was super-pop, designed to amuse and move and get the squares to shake their tail feathers.
And as far as bone fide hit records go, few have ever taken the model of imaginative collage + humour + grooviness and done anything with it nearly as joyfully, danceably, delightfully brilliant as Australia's The Avalanches did on their 2000 Top 20 sampledelic smasheroo, Frontier Psychiatrist. I Love This Record. I probably wouldn't have even bothered doing this list if I hadn't wanted a reason to write about Frontier Psychiatrist. Alphabet Of Pop aside, I'd still put this in my all-time Top 50 singles. Wikipedia states that it contains 37 samples; I'm gonna say I think it's higher than that, but even if it's just 37, I'm pretty sure this must be a record for a Top 20 UK single. Best of all, one of those samples is from The 'Burbs, one of my all-time favourite movies - and I'm damn certain that Frontier Psychiatrist is the only Top 20 UK hit single with a 'Burbs sample in it.
I dig the Wild West, spaghetti-western, Morricone sorta vibe; I dig how daft it all is...it's really a comedy record, and certainly The Avalanches spoke in interviews around the time that they feared being percieved as a novelty act. Now, there's nothing wrong with novelty songs - I like Doctorin' The Tardis as much as the next man - but this isn't a novelty song. It's funny, sure, and fun, and definately unusual - but nothing this artfully constructed can be called a novelty. I'm a real sucker this sort of sample-heavy fare; it appeals to the record-geek in me, the crate-digger mentality that has you thinking "Ohh - where'd they nick this bit from, and where can I find it?" As a pop-culture junkie, a song composed entirely of pop-culture junk is just right it my street.
Oh, and the video is potentially my favourite video of all time.