I never really liked Run DMC’s remake, if that’s what you can call it, of Aerosmith’s hit “Walk this Way”. Depending on how you look at it, it may not have been a remake as much as a legitimate new creative product. I doubt the latter, as the guitar riff is unmistakably Aerosmith, and for it to be a legit new product, entire and easily recognizable portions of a “song” –if you can refer to rap as “song”– can’t be mirrored in other songs. It can be reminiscent, but not a copy paste scenario.
Setting aside issues of legitimate authorship and musical taste, the remake did have some good effects. It salvaged Aerosmith’s butts, whose career was on its way to being relegated as a “goodies oldies bar band” –whose prospects were probably only seedy truck stops and corresponding bars.
Also in the process, Run DMC introduced good ol’ rock and roll to kids that probably had never seen, heard, and probably hadn’t conceptualized an electric guitar. They also introduced rap to rhythmicly challenged white folks. This might be called a market cross-over ploy.
On the part of Run DMC, I’m not sure if this was a thought out market plan. This might be giving them too much credit. If anything, they got people that would have never bothered to listen to rap to do so –if only to satisfy (morbid?) curiosity.
Having said that, as I’m sit here listening to the White Stripes singer Jack White perform a duet with a R&B female singer named Alicia Keys, I wonder about this obvious marketing ploy. I usually hate these marketing tactics, finding them cheap, predicable, even morally decadent.
Now I have to admit, I think this single actually pulls it off, barring a few questionable notes on the part of Alicia. To be honest, I don’t think Jack steps out of his comfort zone, and this may be –in part– why it works. I doubt the inverse scenario of having Jack do his bit on a R&B duet would work. Alicia also does an “ok” job with her vocals, despite the previously mentioned bum notes.
Without going into a flown blown musical critique, Jack uses some interesting “call and response” work between his guitar and Alicia’s voice –which brings to mind the the Plant/Page work within Led Zeppelin. The piano is a nice touch too, showing Alicia in more of an active participant role, rather than just a vocal guest. It would be interesting to see the song credits to verify Alicia’s exact composition and studio recording involvement.
See it for yourself, on You Tube.
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