Duck Rock from 1983 still sounds fresh and relevant. It's a brilliant fusion of world & roots music, scratch and sampling techniques, dance beats, pop hooks and rock riffs. The mainly instrumental Obatala opens the album on a moody mid-tempo note; based on a drumming style from the Dominican Republic, the languid track has snippets of a female vocal far in the background. Legba is similarly atmospheric but based on Cuban beats and purely instrumental whilst Buffalo Gals is an expertly arranged feast of samples, scratching, percolating rhythms and solo & massed vocals.
Four songs are inspired by and employ musicians from South Africa, three from the Zulu
culture and from the Shangaan (Tsonga). They are (1) the uptempo Double Dutch, one of the most melodious tracks with various forms of backing vocals (2) the fascinating hybrid Punk It Up, a song about The Sex Pistols
sung in English and Zulu with pennywhistles and gospel backing vocals, (3) the tuneful Jive My Baby Jive with its great interplay of male and female vocals and hypnotic beat. Shangaan township music is represented by (4) the buoyant Living on the Road in Soweto, an example of a popular style also present on Paul Simon's Graceland
Another one with a pronounced African influence is Song For Chango, a combination of chanting & Afro-Cuban rhythms. The fast-paced and polyrhythmic Merengue takes the listener back to the Dominican Republic, and is vaguely reminiscent of some of the styles that Kid Creole & The Coconuts
experimented with. Duck Rock concludes with Duck for the Oyster, a vibrant finale based on the Appalachian square dance with inspired fiddle playing. What makes it all the more charming and cohesive is the voice of a DJ and the callers that give it the lively feel of a radio show. Malcolm McLaren proves himself to be an excellent stylist on this innovative and well-produced album. Duck Rock is a joyful musical tour through Africa and the Caribbean.