CD Review of Feed the Animals by Girl Talk
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Illegal Art
Girl Talk: Feed the Animals

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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S
ometimes the sum of something is greater than its parts. That old adage has never been truer than when talking about Girl Talk (a.k.a. Gregg Gillis) and his insane cut-and-paste mash-up creations. While he released two albums previously, the Pittsburghian plunderer of all things pop broke through with his third, the 2006 release Night Ripper. Through Gillis’ genius use of (unlicensed) samples, he made unlikely musical partners out of Biggie Smalls and Elton John; David Banner and Nine Inch Nails; and Pavement and 2 Live Crew. The album also re-invented the mash-up scene, which was previously concerned primarily with “versus” mixes that took two or three songs and mixed them together. Night Ripper regularly had four or more songs being mixed together at the same time. The final sample count on Night Ripper is around 160.

An impressive feat no doubt, but the Feed the Animals, the latest from Girl Talk,literally doubles the ante set forth by Night Ripper, featuring over 300 samples. Hip-hop, rock, electronic and pop music from the ‘50s through to the present day are all cut and pasted together to create new compositions that defy all description. It’s a wet dream for music geeks the world over – and a legal nightmare for copyright lawyers, since once more, Gillis has not cleared a single sample.

At any time during Feed the Animals, you could be listening to snippets from half a dozen or more other tunes. Right out of the gate on the first track, you’re hit with a mix of UGK and Outkast’s “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You),” the Spencer Davis Group classic “Gimme Some Lovin’,” Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman,” and “The Unicorms’ “I Was Born (A Unicorn).” Before the track is over, Gillis will tear through roughly 20 more songs, including Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister, and “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor.

Girl Talk

It’s impossible to list every song that is given the Girl Talk treatment on Feed the Animals (that’s what Wikipedia is for), so let’s focus on the highlights. Standout combinations include an extended section of BLACKstreet’s “No Diggity” getting mixed over Lil John and Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” and “15 Steps” by Radiohead; The Jackson 5’s “ABC” mashing into “Bohemian Rhapsody”; and a crazy bit that takes DJ Kool’s rap from “Let Me Clear My Throat” and plops it into “Come On Eileen.” Those last two tracks work so well together it’s terrifying.

One of the best aspects of Girl Talk’s music is that even if you don’t like the source material he’s pillaging from, you’ll probably still end up liking the end result. Even Avril Lavigne’s biggest detractors should enjoy how “Girlfriend” is mixed with Toni Basil’s “Mickey,” and while Lil’ Mamma’s “Lip Gloss” is an aggravating earworm from hell, it somehow becomes not only tolerable, but even enjoyable when combined with a riff from Metallica’s “One.”

While you don’t have to like everything that Girl Talk samples, your enjoyment of Feed the Animals will probably depend on your familiarity with the source material. If you’re not familiar with Quad City DJs’ “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)” and ? and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears,” then you probably won’t care, or notice, that the two work well when mixed together. However, you don’t need to know every sample source on Feed the Animals to enjoy it – not knowing that it’s Shawty Lo rapping over Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” doesn’t make the combination any less entertaining. And since so much from so many different genres is taken over on Feed the Animals, the only way you wouldn’t know at least some of the source material is if you lived in a cave on Mars (without a radio) your whole life. There’s something here for everyone.

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