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Smashups
Artist: Various
Label: Sparrow Records
Time: 10 tracks/39:27 min.

Remix versions? Old hat Ė make way for the smashups! Yes, you read that right, not content just to release different versions of one song, we now have two songs smashed into one! Voila! New ways of parting cash from wallets with the minimal cost of studio jiggery. Iím sorry but I do not have any patience for this.

 I mean, really, what is the point? Is Sparrow Records trying to tell us that they canít be bothered to get the artists on its roster to actually spend time and effort to write, perform and record new material anymore? Or does Sparrow think that the novelty factor alone should be enough to convince folk to fork out hard earned money for this album?

 That said, the opening combination of Audio Adrenalineís "Get Down", Steven Curtis Chapmanís "Dive," and Gritsí "All Fall Down" does actually work, despite my reservations. But the novelty wears off and fast. Then you realize that itís mostly combining a rap with a guitar song and thatís not even new (and a boring combination too). And so, DC Talk, Toby Mac, Grits et al, get featured quite a bit. 

Hard to believe that this is the same label that released Keith Greenís No Compromise all those years ago! But then again, itís not the same label really, is it? 

*sigh* 

Kevin Mathews 7/21/2003

Admittedly, the idea of joining portions of two or more pieces of music together is hardly a new one.  Disc jockeys have been fading the end of one song into the beginning of another for their weekend dance party segments for years.  And ever since the Sugar Hill Gang lifted the bass line from Chic's "Good Times" for their 1979 breakout hip-hop single "Rappers Delight," an entire genre has made its bread and butter constructing new compositions around snippets of old ones.  That said, the fusing together of disparate tracks over the entire length of their constituent parts seems to be something of a more recent practice, with Sparrow Records' Smash-Ups serving as a flagship release of sorts from the Christian music camp.

As might be expected with such potentially unstable forms of experimentation, the results tend to run the gamut.  On the positive side, the mixing of Switchfoot's "You Already Take Me There" with Grits' "TN Boys" shows that there are still a few new wrinkles to be uncovered in the mixing of hip-hop and rock.  Likewise, PAX 217's "Tonight" pulls off the seemingly impossible feat of breathing at least a hint of new life into the Newsboys' now inescapable "Shine" anthem.  In the middle ground, fusions such as dc Talk's "Colored People" and the Newsboys' "Entertaining Angels" come across as roughly equal to the sum of their parts--no more and no less.  And, in the negative-approaching-unachievable category, Carman's "Who's in the House" is arguably a losing proposition no matter whose song one decides to "smash" it with.

While the Smash-Ups album admittedly falls just shy of groundbreaking, it nonetheless merits at least a modicum of praise for outdistancing the better portion of what is now a sated remix-oriented market.  Some listeners will no doubt be duly impressed by the seamlessness with which the individual songs are able to be stitched together.  Others may very likely be sobered by just how little ostensible effort seems to have been needed to create the hybrid offerings--hinting, perhaps, at a certain pre-existing sameness in the underlying tracks themselves.  Those who throw advanced music theory and verse-by-verse dissection to the wind, though, will find the Smash-Ups release a mostly enjoyable coal mine of pop/rock reimaginings from which they can extract at least the occasional musical diamond.

Bert Gangl (07.22.03)

   
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