There was a time I would have gone to the mat in defense of the idea that the first ever mashup release was 1996’s “Whipped Cream Mixes” single by Columbus, OH’s Evolution Control Committee, a marvelous collision of Public Enemy a cappella tracks with music beds by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. If you don’t know them, my God, take a few minutes out of your life to properly dig some awesomeness:
Though that single is an acknowledged influence on the UK bootleg scene, I was mistaken in my Ohio-proud belief that the ECC invented the now-standard “Band vs Band” form. But I was educated. By the graces of Regretsy creator April Winchell’s amazing MP3 share page, I was alerted to the existence of composer/arranger Alan Copeland’s 1968 work “Mission: Impossible Theme/Norwegian Wood,” whereon Copeland’s chorus sang the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” over an orchestral performance of Lalo Schifrin’s indelible theme music from the secret agent TV series.
Copeland was already known for his work in The Modernaires, and on television with Your Hit Parade and The Red Skelton Show when ABC records released his weird hybrid as a single. That single won a Grammy award in the Best Contemporary Pop Performance, Chorus category. According to several sources I’ve found, The Alan Copeland Singers actually performed “Norwegian Wood” on the Skelton show, but frustratingly, I can find no indication of whether it was performed with the “Mission: Impossible” music, nor can I find any video of the appearance online. Frankly, for a Grammy-winning major label single, the tune is an elusive motherfucker. The 7” photo above is of my copy—can you make out the 98¢ price sticker? The idea of finding it that cheaply nowadays is, um, wishful. (To be clear, I paid way, WAY less than the eBay seller at that link is asking—no 7” is worth a shopping cart full of groceries.)
The song resurfaced in 1997 on a compilation from Rhino Records (naturally!) called Golden Throats 4: Celebrities Butcher the Beatles, a comp that is itself out of print and rare now. I managed to find it on Grooveshark, but that site’s embeds evidently don’t work on mobile devices, so for readers who browse DM on a phone or tablet, I’ve also included a YouTube link to a faithful cover version, by an Australian vocal group called the Unisounds. Somehow, you will hear this song, dammit.
Per IMDB, Alan Copeland is still living, and teaching choir in Berkeley, CA.
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Led Zeppelin vs Beatles: ‘Whole Lotta Helter Skelter’
Mashup: Donna Summer and Booker T & the MGs: ‘I Feel Love’ / ‘Green Onions’
Beck on the butcher block: Illegal Art’s ‘Deconstructing Beck’
Bunnymen vs White Stripes, Bee Gees vs Killing Joke and more: new mashups from Go Home Productions