Certainly one of the more bizarre major label releases of 1984, Malcolm McLaren's FANS has proven to be remarkably influential in ways that possibly not even its creator could have expected. On FANS, McLaren--who plays no instruments and sings even less than he did on his groundbreaking debut DUCK ROCK--combines opera, soul, and hip-hop in an entirely new (at the time) blend. Storylines and arias from CARMEN, TURANDOT, and MADAME BUTTERFLY are melded to slinky electronics. Oddly enough, the combination works.
The singers, some of whom are operatic, and some of whom sound more like divas ofthe Whitney Houston variety, put over the material completely straight. There's not a trace of camp here, and the music, with its slow beats, woozy string samples and oddball accents, prefigures the rise of trip-hop by close to a decade. Put FANS beside a Moby album and you might have trouble telling them apart.