Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Malcolm McLaren: Fans [Island, 1984]
Although what attracts McLaren to opera is proven commercial tunes he doesn't have to pay for, he does end up making sly, slantwise connections between two wildly successful strains of romantic superschlock: Puccini and disco. "Madam Butterfly" has the killer hook, with McLaren's Pinkerton a bizarre yet rather affecting country-cockney hybrid. But the great genre-fuck is "Fans" itself, with disco diva Angie B. doing a recitative so dumb and charming it reminds us not only that you don't need brains to love opera but that this may well be the nicest thing you can say about the stuff. Listen to Angie stumble over a few notes of real Puccini in the coda, then ask yourself whether featured soprano Betty Ann White would improve them by doing them right. B+