Nowadays, it’s all about the mashups. Mashups, mashups, mashups. Gene-splicing one song with another and blasting it over the internet. Some are great, some are more clever in theory than in execution, and all rely heavily on contemporary technology. I enjoy them, but I have neither the ear for them nor the technology to make them.
But 20 years ago I did make one, only I called it an ‘accident.’
I was making a mix tape and my “rig” included two CD players running through a mixing board, into a tape deck. This enabled me to crossfade between two songs, a la a DJ (and I mean a radio DJ, not a wikee-wikee DJ). It was a jazz mix, and the outgoing song was “Straight, No Chaser” by Miles Davis, live at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, featuring Cannonball Adderly on alto sax and John Coltrane on tenor sax. The incoming song was “One,” by the obscure funk/fusion band Madhouse, which was in actuality Prince and saxophonist Eric Leeds.
I thought the switchover went smoothly: “Straight, No Chaser” ended, I hit play on CD Player 2 and stopped CD Player 1. I began to do something else (grab the next CD to queue it up?) and suddenly noticed something…new.
(You can play the amalgam now, to “score” the rest of this post, and recreate my bedroom in South Jersey, circa 1990.)
It turns out I didn’t turn off CD Player 1, and the next song—“Fran-Dance”—was playing beneath Madhouse’s “One.” I was treated to four freaky minutes where there was an excessive number of listenable moments when both songs worked together, creating a new, third song. At times it really feels like Davis, Cannonball and Trane are playing off of Leeds and Prince, three decades apart.
I’m not going to belabor this with too much scrutiny (i.e. listen to how Miles and the drums play off each other at the 0:38 mark). Suffice to say it’s largely “One” with underpinning by “Fran-Dance,” and there’s NO EDITS whatsoever. Yes, it helps if you know the songs in their original form, so I’ve attached them below. And, who knows, this could just be a case where you had to be there.
I’ve enjoyed this for many years and shared it with very few. About five years ago, I sent it along to a fellow (internet) Prince fan whose reaction was, “Hey, Dude, nice mashup.” I said, “What’s a mashup?”