Sunday, 11 October 2009

1989 Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers: Swing The Mood

Ah. Jive Bunny. The curious thing with this is that despite it being a UK phenomenon that I actually lived through first hand, I'd completely forgotten about Jive Bunny until called on to write this. And yet in this fond remembering, the depths of disdain I felt for this project in 1989 are readily summoned as if the fires of ire were freshly lit this morning.

Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers were the public face of Les Hemstock and his pet pony of one trick, the trick being to splice together a bunch of 1950's rock & roll recordings over a strident, non stop backbeat that changed neither pace nor pitch for the duration. Though the vocals were lifted straight from the original recordings of Bill Haley et al, Jive Bunny had more in common with the awful medley singles that Starsound made popular in 1981 than the work of a cutting edge dance DJ. Because whatever else 'Swing The Mood' may be, cutting edge it was not.

Crude would be a better word - 'Swing The Mood' could now be easily created by any PC literate schoolboy on a cheap laptop during his lunchbreak, but even in 1989 there was nothing especially big or clever in linking a clutch of songs in more or less the same time signature to form a continuous whole and using Glenn Miller's 'In The Mood' as a recurring theme. If they'd been splicing 4/4 with 5/24 then I'd take my hat off to them, but they weren't, and the sole concession to imagination is to either stretch or slow the original vocal eversoslightly so that it gelled more smoothly or else to introduce a vocal stutter so beloved of early eighties 12 inch remixes that might have sounded fine on Phil Oakey or Simon Le Bon, but just sounds bizarre when applied to the Everly Brothers.

'Swing The Mood' is pure novelty and should be regarded as such, but the purist in me is mightily pissed that the music of Glenn Miller, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley are lumped together seconds apart as if they are 'all the same thing innit'? Well no, it's bloody not the same thing and on that front
'Swing The Mood' is the equivalent of a mass market compilation or 'reader' that contains the 'best bits' from, say, Shakespeare or Beethoven for lazy people lacking the inclination to read and digest the whole play or symphony to put them in context. It's a simplistic dance piece forever fated to be a hardy perennial for any wedding DJ who wants to 'play a bit of rock & roll for the mums and dads' but who can't be arsed to dig out the full originals for an audience he knows can't be arsed to listen anyway. Accordingly, the lazy purist in me is happy enough to tartly dismiss this as a sop for people with more money than sense or taste. Which in 1989 would have been about £1.49, so maybe I'm overvaluing them.

1 comment:

  1. You're a little harsh on this. Stands up well even in 2020 as a piece of dance floor escapism where everyone knows the tunes. It delivers four minutes of solid entertainment and enjoyment which, in the rather downbeat times of Summer 1989 (England getting trounced by the Aussies in the Ashes, and using an incredible 29 players in the series) is a welcome piece of light relief.