Malcolm McLaren has always been a cultural kleptomaniac. He swiped American punk to create his greatest brainchild, the Sex Pistols, and African rhythms to shape bands like Bow Wow Wow. For his solo work, he clipped everything from opera to the minuet. Now he’s pinching from himself. Round the Outside! Round the Outside!, his latest project, finds McLaren rehashing the idea of mixing arias and dance music that he used in his 1984 album, Fans, and refiguring his biggest club hit, ”Buffalo Gals.” To cover his tracks, cuts like ”Operaa House!” (sic) are updated with cutting-edge rhythms and arrangements, but the overall concept can’t help but feel moldy. You should also know that McLaren sings and plays about as much on this album as Milli Vanilli did on theirs. And in his crucial role as conceptualist he’s come up with only one clever idea — to rework Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter into some funky raps. The track ”II Be or Not II Be” suggests a hip-hop Hamlet and deserves to become the novelty club number of today. Too bad the rest of the album catches this onetime pop leader panting to keep up with the pack. C
Round the Outside! Round the Outside!