Despite his insistence that Girl Talk shouldn’t be judged against other mash-up artists, it’s difficult to consider Greg Gillis’s feverish assault on the ears as anything other than a mash-up. His 2008 effort,
It’s impossible to harvest and then merge so many styles and sounds without yielding mixed results, and though the listener should easily be able to forgive the album’s inconsistency, it becomes difficult to excuse its poor sequencing. All Day is blessed with some of the most dazzling mash-ups ever to infringe copyright, but an overwhelming majority of these emerge during the first 15 minutes, and the hour of music that follows rarely reaches the opening salvo’s dizzying heights.
But make no mistake: It’s a blistering start. In “Let It Out,” a mere five minutes in, Gillis chops up General Public’s “Tenderness” and ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” before rampaging through instrumentals from GZA’s “Liquid Swords” and Beck’s “Loser” alongside the tongue-clicking of “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” This brings us to Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff,” and despite the wildly contrasting styles of Gill’s samples, the results are phenomenal and the changeovers are seamless. That the project can yield such a fruitful mélange of polarizing genres is its greatest credit, and this bold march through four decades of music is quite possibly its most accomplished flash.
That’s not to say All Day works best when Gillis is at his most adventurous, as some of the more routine mash-ups can be enthralling in their own right. “That’s Right” sees Beyoncé wailing soulfully over the belligerent stomp of M.O.P.’s “Ante Up,” while Gillis pairs Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” a cappella with crunch-punk guitar lifted from Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” toward the tail-end of “Let It Out.” These instances, where a vocal is synched to a different instrumental for prolonged stretches of the mix, provide the album with its more dance-floor-friendly moments, though they’re never quite as technically impressive as the more elaborate mash-ups.
As mentioned above, given the sheer volume of samples Gillis has elected to use in this marathon set, a few lapses are to be expected. And given its particularly top-heavy sequencing, the record settles into something of a lull and these lapses become more and more frequent. Ol’ Dirty Bastard raps “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” over Radiohead’s “Creep” to awkwardly limp effect, ushering in almost 20 minutes of music that passes by leaving very little impression besides the portions with Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” (where the Notorious B.I.G. assumes vocal duties) and an all-too-short bout of Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker.” The curtain call similarly feels undercooked and tame: “Imagine” may be one of the best songs ever written, but it doesn’t quite fit the giddy schizophrenia of Girl Talk’s party mixes.
Whether you’re playing Spot the Sample or actually cutting a rug, All Day is a great deal of fun. At the album’s most effective, which is almost invariably when the kitchen sink is thrown at us, Gillis somehow gives the illusion that all of your favorite songs are part of this hyperactive collage: He’s snuck into your house, looted your entire mp3 library, and spliced them with the better half of your sister’s iPod and some classics from your dad’s vinyl collection.