Malcolm McLaren, in Memoriam: Buffalo Gals

All that scratchin' is makin' me itch.


  1. Awesome. I really needed that 3.45 break from work just then and this is exactly what I needed to fill it with.

  2. Like I said, a game-changer.

    I remember seeing this on TV in 1983 and having a real culture-shock moment.

    I hit the Record button on our brand new VCR and watched it over and over again.

  3. LOL, Pantograph — no need to establish a personal relationship with every wad of gum that gets stuck to your shoe…just hit the red Abuse button (!).

  4. Oh, Malcolm. so brilliant, so compromised.

    like most artists.

    i always think of him and lydon as the faces of a ginder-haired, twin godhead. they merge and become great, then split apart, each carrying still that celebrity (symbolized by the glowing head of orange hair) but working in different ways, never meeting but still one.

    Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die

  5. Give Malcolm one thing. He was an equal opportunity exploitationist. And that’s pretty hard to achieve. If you don’t believe me, try it some time.

  6. I was 12 when Duck Rock came out, growing up in Bristol, UK – too late for punk, but ripe for the first wave of hip hop culture to impact on my world.

    Me and my best friend Andy just loved everything about that record: from the scratching that we tried to emulate on his mum’s crappy auto-stacking record player, to the cover art that inspired us to decorate his ghetto blaster with spray paint, superglue… and even a fake raccoon tail!

    Years later when I found out about the Sex Pistols I couldn’t believe the same man could be behind such different projects.

    But, on reflection, the feeling that I had discovered something unique and incredible that had nothing to do with my parent’s music, the baffled reactions from my older relatives when I put Buffalo Gals on at family parties, and how great that all made me feel, were pretty much what punk and rock are all about.

    So cheers Malcolm, and rest in peace

  7. I recall all the “politics” when Malcolm’s hiphop stuff hit the midwest — he was a rip-off, an exploiter, a cross-genre fail, etc. But he introduced me to Afrika Bambaattaa, and that wipes out a bunch of sins ;-) Lost all those great EPs when the house was robbed…sure do miss World’s Famous Supreme Team Show, Double Dutch, and Zulus On A Time Bomb

    (And this is where the long tail is not-quite-long-enough… I would pay good money for medium-to-hi res downloads of this stuff, but can’t find it! Just like I’d love to buy at least half of Wim Mertens’ catalog, but the choices are either scarcity-priced out-of-print CDs — like, US$100 for a CD containing his “Often a Bird”, used as the soundtrack for BB’s recent posting of Nature By Numbers — or online outlets in Europe that won’t let me purchase; arrgh! Luckily I’ve got a young friend at LSE who will purchase for me, but damn…)

  8. I just don’t get it. It leaves me stone cold. He was a great publicist but it takes more than an eye for fashion to create great art. This really hasn’t stood the test of time for me.

    1. This song and video immediately takes me back to a several year period of my life in the 80’s when Bronx based hip hop opened up music and the world to me. Whenever you heard this track, you knew the dj knew his shit.

      This was some next level weird hip hop scratching joint that made NO sense when put along 95% of what was out there being called hip hop at the time. (What is a Buffalo Gal? Why did he sing this?) The scratching and samples are off tune and dissonant.

      Yet, put it in a DJ set with Rammelzee, the Furious 4, Afrika Bambaata & Time Zone, Cybotron, the Jungle Brothers and so on, and you could creat a mind-altering psychedlic tribal ghost jam that took you to the islands and Egypt via an amphibious spaceship powered by Zulu beadworked bass cabinets.

      I actually found this record, dirty and scratched, in a Manhattan sidewalk garbage pile. It was with a weird ass compilation of Bill Laswell produced tracks on Celluloid Records: bizarre hip hop like DST and Manu Dibango. I’ve never been the same since.

      This song is the testament to Malcolm’s genius. Sorry to see him go.

  9. Thank you, thank you! This video takes me back. And makes me feel old. Going to show it to my daughter now.

  10. fritz, next time you hear Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend or The Ruby Suns and wonder how that glorious sound came into being, well, you now know.

  11. Well, put me in with the people who don’t get it – the only thing here that stands out to me is that it’s a version of an 1844 song written about my home town of Buffalo, NY. Nothing in the music or video really does it for me.

    I think this is the kind of thing you had to be around for originally for it to mean anything now. I mean, I really like classic hip-hop, like Sugarhill Records kind of stuff – I’m not averse to the style. This song just doesn’t do it for me.

    Reading about it a bit, I can understand the historical significance for popularizing hip-hop in the UK, but, that doesn’t make it compelling listening for everyone today…

    1. Yeah those Erie Canal barge boys could not wait to blow off steam, once they got to the flesh-pots and temptations of….Buffalo. And think! They yet had Cleveland to look forward to! What excitement!

      Musical re-discovery and the transforming of old into new is part of what art has always been about.

      Just like you really had to be shipping on the Canal in the mid-19th C to “really get” Buffalo gals…either the Ladies, or the song about those ladies.
      Perhaps some artists serve as an echo and yet a propagation too of the cultures of previous generations, previous peoples.

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