Monday, 30 September 2013
Lick Back Organisation - Maniak Musik (The Lick Back Remix) (Suburban Base, 1994)
My Monday Retrospect column for DnB Blog this week looks at 'Godfather' by Rampage, a track that samples the theme music and dialogue from The Godfather Part III. This remix of Lick Back Organisation's 'Maniak Musik' features a brief sample of some dialogue from The Godfather Part II. Lick Back Organisation were the duo of Ashley Markin (AKA MC Special A) and Greg Samuel and they only had two releases, Maniak Musik / Ruff 'N Rugged and the subsequent remixes of those tracks from themselves and Kenny Ken, with additional production coming from D'Cruze. Their only other tune, Music Of The Future, appeared on the Subplates Volume 4 EP.
While the original mix is good I've always preferred the remix. It samples Grace Slick, the lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, introducing the band at Woodstock prior to performing 'Somebody To Love': "Alright friends you have seen the heavy groups, now you will see morning maniac music... believe me yeah... it's a new dawn". The vocal is slowed down with parts of it appearing throughout the ominous wind-swept intro before a pan pipe-like sound is introduced along with drums that use the Think break. A sample of the character Willie Cicci in The Godfather Part II saying "When the boss says push a button on a guy, I push a button" leads into the drop which brings in rapid fire 808 kick bass and the Soul Pride break. It's a haunting track with various sounds floating in and out of it and it's a shame the duo didn't release much else.
The remix features on Drum & Bass Selection 2 and you can hear it in DJ Hype's mixed version of that compilation which only appeared on the cassette edition below:
Sunday, 29 September 2013
The Return - Basic Rules (Kemet, 1997)
Crime dramas in general are a great source of dialogue samples for drum and bass tracks. 'Basic Rules' by The Return marked the beginning of the Kemet label's brief resurrection in 1997/1998 - this release credits Lazarus Productions with mix, arrangement and production and that name was also used on the other three 12"s from this period. It features samples from the 1996 HBO film Gotti, a biopic of the Gambino family mafia boss John Gotti who Jay Z famously referenced when he rapped "I never prayed to God, I prayed to Gotti" on 'D'Evils'. Samples of Gotti, played by Armand Assante, talking to his lieutenant Frank Locascio appear throughout the track with the title-lending passage played in full during the breakdown before the drop:
"You got your variable snowstorms of cocaine and smack, whatever the hell else they shove in their veins. You got a worldwide crime syndicate now. There's no rules. There's no parameters. There's no feelings. There's no feelings for this country. Anarchy..."
Around the samples The Return craft a minimal rolling tune with a foreboding intro featuring two-step beats before bringing in a deep bassline along with haunting synths and later some R'n'B style female vocals of the "Ooooh, woaaah, yeah" variety. Simple but effective and you can hear Mickey Finn dropping the track at The United Colours of One Nation event on 27th September 1997 with Fearless and Foxy on the mic:
Saturday, 28 September 2013
Mickey Finn & Aphrodite - Bad Ass (Urban Takeover, 1996)
South Central is another of the early nineties "Hood Films" which is parodied in Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. The film is sampled extensively on 'Bad Ass' which was the first release for Mickey Finn and Aphrodite's Urban Takeover label in 1996. The track is a classic of the jump-up genre and was recently included in DJ Mag's Top 100 Most Important Drum & Bass Tunes list.
Dialogue from the film such as "Y'all know, they tried to control the day. You don't control the day, the man control the day, but we will... control the night" and "Don't play me for no sucker" appear during the atmospheric intro which also features dramatic synth stabs, helicopters and police sirens. You can check this youtube clip to hear several of the lines used on the track. As the dialogue and synth stabs build to a crescendo the title-lending "Bad Ass" sample brings in a torpedoing wobble bassline with two-step drums that feature a prominent metallic snare on every second beat. Although somewhat overplayed, this is one of the tunes that set the template for jump-up and is undeniable anthem which as DJ Mag say, "brought a much-needed sense of playful fun" to the scene.
The digital of 'Bad Ass' is available on the Drum&BassArena Anthology compilation. Mickey Finn & Aprhodite did two remixes of the track and you can hear the better one of those open Finn's set at One Nation's 4th Birthday celebration on the 29th November 1997:
Friday, 27 September 2013
The Pedge - What's Up Now (Ray Keith Remix) (Penny Black, 2000)
The Pedge is Pedro McLeod, a long time friend of Gavin Cheung AKA Nookie who used to work alongside him at Red Records in Soho. He also assisted Nookie on some of his productions and inspired a few great track titles including 'Pedro Visits Romford' and 'Pedro Pulls An Essex Sort'. In 1999 he had his first release, The Glimmer Man EP, on Ray Keith's Penny Black label and the following year the highlight of that EP, 'What's Up Now' received a double 12" set of all-star remixes from Nookie, Ray Keith and Future Cut & M.I.S.T. along with a re-edit from The Pedge himself.
It's a strong package but my favourite is label boss Ray Keith's version. Like Remarc's 'Menace' the track samples the "Wussup now partner" line from Menace II Society. Ray Keith cheekily adds a couple of dialogue samples from spoof movie Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood including "See, 'cause in the hood everybody's a target". The Hot Pants break is used during the intro along with dub sirens, haunting synths and the film dialogue before the Amen break comes in along with great slabs of distorted reese bass for a dark tearer of a remix.
The Pedge went on to work with Blame on his 720 Degrees imprint, making liquid funk as Blame & The Pedge (see 'Lift Me Up') and darker material as Keepers Of The Peace (see 'Krypton Factor').
Thursday, 26 September 2013
Remarc - Menace (White House Records, 1995)
The guitar from Betty Wright's 'Clean Up Woman' is also sampled in this West Coast hip-hop style jungle tune from Marc Forrester AKA Remarc. Although mainly known as a ragga jungle producer, hip-hop was also a major influence on his music, particulary later material such as 'In Da Hood' and 'Single Finga Killa'. 'Menace' also samples a couple of Los Angeles set movies, something he'd first done on 'Ricky', the tune that really made his name as a producer.
The track opens with the Wright sample along with G-Funk synth, police radio sounds and the Think break before gunshots and the "Wussup now partner" line from Menace II Society shatter the relative calm and bring in a tough bassline. Dialogue from the film is sampled frequently throughout the track and combined with vocals from Ice Cube's Death Certificate album. Just before the drop, Remarc uses Ice Cube's "The wrong nigga to fuck wit" from 'The Funeral' to answer the "The fuck you think you is" line from the movie along with more gunshots. The drop brings in hyper-edited Amens as you'd expect from Remarc along with another Ice Cube sample, this time from the track actually titled 'The Wrong Nigga To Fuck Wit': "Make a move for your gat and I'll bury ya". There is also a line from the movie White Men Can't Jump: "Nah, fuck this, both you muthafuckers are crazy. I'm going to my car, get my other gun. Shoot everybody's arse" which precedes the introduction of a big reversed bassline. While earlier Remarc tunes often featured vocals that spoke of killing a rival musically ('Sound Murderer', 'RIP'), here the violence is much more real and explicit. A South London recreation of South Central LA gang violence.
'Menace' was included on Planet Mu's Sound Murderer retrospective of Remarc's work which is available directly from the label. Check out the track in the Gangsta Jungle mix below by Chrissy Murderbot - the download as well as some back story and the full tracklist are available over at his Year of Mixtapes blog.
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
The 45 Roller - Let The Funk Flow (Ebony Recordings, 1996)
Sweet Tee, real name Toi Jackson, is an American female rapper from Queens who found success in the eighties with her Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor produced It's Tee Time album and singles such as 'On The Smooth Tip' and 'I Got Da Feelin'. Shy FX would appear to be a fan as he sampled the beat of 'On The Smooth Tip' on 'Funkindemup' and also samples the guitar from 'It's Like That Y'all' on 'Let The Funk Flow' under his 45 Roller alias.
The guitar lick is originally from soul singer Betty Wright's 1971 single 'Clean Up Woman' but 'It's Like That Y'all' is definitely where Shy FX sourced it as he also uses the same "Aaaaaooww" vocal from James Brown's 'Get Up Offa That Thing' that appears towards the beginning of the Sweet Tee track. 'Clean Up Woman' was also sampled on numerous other hip-hop tracks including Africa Bambaataa's 'Zulu War Chant' and the Bad Boy Remix of Mary J. Blige's 'Real Love'. The sound of footsteps and a door being opened lead into a sample of a vocal from Da Brat, another female rapper: "Open up ya door, let the funk flow in" (which I believe is from a clean version of 'Give It 2 Me' although I can't find any audio). The track has a funky boogie style bassline and synth along with the Apache break which Shy clearly loved back in 1995/1996, using it on a number of his tunes from this era.
You can hear Shy FX's remix of the track in this Brockie & MC Det mix on the One In The Jungle show from the 23rd August 1996:
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Peter Parker - Hit Me (Da Lick, 1998)
The Switch and Da Lick labels were established by Bizzy B and the Joker Records crew in 1997 and each put out twenty five releases or so over a three year period. Both labels released jump-up tunes that often featured hip-hop and r'n'b samples and there was little to distinguish the two imprints, with even the logos on earlier 12"s being in similar blocky 3D fonts. Bizzy B & Pugwash were probably responsible for the majority of the label's output along with other Joker artists such as Special K although I'm not sure exactly who was behind this track which was the A side of Da Lick Volume 7 - the super hero alias and title info above don't even appear on the record.
'Hit Me' opens with a sample of the beat from the Bad Boy Remix of MC Lyte's 'Cold Rock A Party' with its obvious use of 'Upside Down' by Diana Ross (Puff Daddy/whatever he's called these days not being known for his subtle use of sampling). This loops for some time with just some additional percussion being added before a big drum roll and James Brown's "Hit me!" vocal from 'Get On The Good Foot' bring in a typical Da Lick bassline with snare heavy drums. The problem with Da Lick/Switch releases was that they mostly all sounded the same with only the samples changing but this is one of the better examples that I'm aware of. Fun jump-up that's not to be taken too seriously.
For more info on Da Lick check out Jamie S23's article on the label for UK Bass Music and have a listen to his mix below featuring some of his favourites from their catalogue:
Shy FX - Funkindemup (DJ Krust Remix) (Ebony Recordings, 1996)
Now summer is officially over this week's Monday Retrospect column for DnB Blog looks at DJ Die's 'Autumn'. Here, his Full Cycle crew associate DJ Krust provides the definitive version of Shy FX's 'Funkindemup'. The original mix came out on Ebony the previous year with an intro that sampled the beat from Sweet Tee's 'On The Smooth Tip' but Krust drops that altogether for a James Brown sample.
The looped horn stabs are taken from 'Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved)', a track that borrowed the guitar lick from David Bowie's 'Fame'. Brown's scream introduces the "I'm fuckin' 'em up, come on to the right" vocal from Ill Al Skratch's 'The Brooklyn Uptown Connection', a 1994 hip-hop cut, which brings in a hyperactive bassline accompanied by drums that use the Hot Pants and Apache breaks. The Amen break is brought in and out of the track while the other elements just keep on going, a key change raising the energy levels even higher. A relentless, rip-roaring remix from Krust.
You can hear the track in this B2B set from DJ Hype & Brockie at the One Nation 'A Match Made At Wembley' event on the 25th May 1996:
Sunday, 22 September 2013
Bonafide - Super Bad (Zinc Remix) (Frontline Records, 1996)
In the Drum and Bass world the music of James Brown has mainly been mined for the breakbeats, but his vocal exclamations and other instrumentation from his records have also been widely sampled. Bonafide were the trio of Frontline boss Pascal, Thomas Hardware and Dave Jennings AKA Dave Runin's (who I guess may have had something to do with the Runninz label). As the name suggests, the original mix of 'Super Bad' is based around samples from Brown's 'Super Bad' but the Zinc Remix on the flip is the one to go for and uses parts from numerous other Brown songs.
The remix opens with the "Can I count it off" from 'Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine' before bringing in the horn stabs from 'Super Bad' along with Brown's "One, Two, Three" from 'Make It Funky (Part 1)' and the "Hit me!" from 'Get On The Good Foot'. The track uses multiple breaks, switching between the Sandy, Soul Pride and Think breaks during the intro. Just before the drop the exchange between Bobby Byrd and Brown that opens 'Make It Funky (Part 1)' is sampled:
Byrd: "What you gonna play now?"
Brown: "I don't know, but whatever I play it's got to be funky"
The bassline is bright and bouncy and midway through the track is given a lift by the introduction of the Amen break. A few other James Brown samples appear during the track including the "Aaaaaooww" from 'Get Up Offa That Thing' and some guitar. Interestingly, Zinc uses different Brown samples to the original, which features the "One, Two, Three, Hit it" and "Watch me!" lines from 'Super Bad' as well as the Byrd/Brown exchange above. Excellent stuff from the Frontline crew.
The track was remixed in 2002 as 'Super2Bad'. You can hear the original version in TheBassFaceTape mix from Kid Lib:
Saturday, 21 September 2013
Gappa G & Hyper Hypa - Feel Like A King (Ruff Kut! Records, 1993)
The Meters, whose 'Just Kissed My Baby' was sampled on Congo Natty's 'Junglist', are a New Orleans funk band who formed in the mid-sixties and have also have backed other musicians such as Lee Dorsey and Allen Toussaint. Although they were not hugely successful commercially they are considered to be one of the originators of funk music and have influenced many others. The guitar lick from the beginning of 'Just Kissed My Baby', a 1974 cut from their Rejuvenation album, was sampled on a number of hip-hop tracks including 'Timebomb' by Public Enemy and is also used on 'Feel Like A King' by Gappa G & Hyper Hypa.
The Luton duo are best known for 'Information Centre' and this cut appeared on the same 12" in 1993. A shared love of hip-hop, rare groove, jazz, reggae and soul brought Gappa G AKA Givan Forrest and Hyper Hypa together with Gappa telling Blaze magazine in 1993: "I live, eat and breathe music, that’s my way of relaxing". They signed to Ruff Kut! Records, a label based in Stevenage and run by Jim Ryan AKA The Good 2 Bad and Hugly / Chuck E. 'Feel Like A King' opens with a vocodered vocal before bringing in the guitar lick from The Meters track along with the "Feel like a king, yeah, cause I just kissed my baby" vocal and the Assembly Line break. A reggae vocal brings in a dub influenced bassline for a track that shows the pair's influences - it also samples the "Watch me!" vocal from James Brown's 'Super Bad'.
Gappa G (so named because of the gap between his front teeth) is now based in Brighton and producing again. You can check his Soundcloud page here.
Friday, 20 September 2013
D.R.S. featuring Kenny Ken - Everyman (Rugged Vinyl, 1994)
"Junglists are you ready?"
Today would have been Stephen Austin AKA Stevie Hyper D's 46th birthday. Tragically, the MC collapsed and died aged just thirty during the early hours of Sunday 5th July 1998 following Innovation at the Camden Palace. Doctors determined his death was due to a fatal bloodclot caused by deep vein thrombosis, probably brought on by a long international tour to Japan, Australia and Canada that he had recently completed. The whole scene was in shock and the tributes poured in. Stevie was a pioneering MC who had developed the double time flow that is now standard among drum and bass MCs, but was also known for his sung hooks: "I'm a Junglist Soldier, Fighting to keep the Jungle alive". His enthusiasm was infectious and he knew how to get the crowd going - there were always a few more rewinds when Stevie was on stage. IC3 recently told DJ Mag:
"Stevie Hyper D had everything - the lyrics, the flows, the hooks. He would turn jungle and drum and bass tracks into full-on tunes."
His released output during his lifetime was sporadic and mostly towards the beginning of his career with tracks such as 'Tekk Beats' with Nu-Tekk and 'Teknoragga' with Apollo 440, both of which came out in 1991. As demand for his MCing grew he began to concentrate on performing at raves and when Jungle appeared his style was the perfect fit - he became a resident MC at nights such as Telepathy, Jungle Mania and Thunder and Joy. He still harboured the desire to be a fully fledged recording artist though and what made his death particularly tragic was that he had only just finished recording vocals for his debut album with Dfrnt Lvls. The LP, The Next Level, was released in 1999 and was followed by The Legend in 2004. New album Generation Hyper is set to be released soon.
One of the best known jungle tunes to feature Stevie is 'Everyman'. In The Life and Times of Stevie Hyper D documentary from last year Kenny Ken said: "The first time I met Stevie he came on the stage and just lit up the place. From there I just wanted him on my set as often as possible... He was the best lyricist (and) he just had a way of flowing." So when Kenny put together 'Everyman' with D.R.S. (the duo of Colin "X 10 CIV" Grainge and Errol Gordon) he got Stevie on the track. It fuses the 'Real Rock' riddim by Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd & Sound Dimension with the "Everyman do his ting a little way different" vocal from Errol Dunkely's 'A Little Way' (resung by Lee Royal Levi), while Stevie's chatting adds an extra level of energy: "All a me want, All a me like, All a me need, It a the sess, That are the herb that give me consciousness". The track uses the Hot Pants and Amen breaks and later introduces some nice pitchbent synths. A classic sing-along tune which has been remixed a number of times with the D.O.P.E. Dub and A.W.O.L. VIP being particularly noteworthy.
You can hear Kenny Ken dropping that VIP on the A.W.O.L. Live album. The Uncle Dugs #RCFF special on Stevie Hyper D from October last year is available in full on Soundcloud. The show includes the excellent The Life and Times of Stevie Hyper D documentary by Matthew Gale which you can also check out on Mixcloud. It's essential listening so get on it...
Thursday, 19 September 2013
Tribe Of Issachar - Junglist (feat. Peter Bouncer) (Congo Natty, 1996)
Lords of the Underground's 'Tic Toc' is also the source of the rapped vocals in 'Junglist', one of the all-time classic tunes from Congo Natty: "Now before making records the hood was my saviour, but now I'm making tunes to make you jam with ya neighbour". The samples in this track were deliberately chosen to help get a message across. Initially jungle brought people together but as it got bigger it attracted violence and media scorn. By 1996 the scene was changing with the reggae influences getting sidelined in the process of the genre being rebranded as drum and bass. Earlier this year Rebel MC told the Solid Steel radio show: "I had to withdraw myself because the scene had become a monster":
"Cause from the hood I came and to the hood I must return"
As well as the 'Tic Toc' vocals there are a couple of other samples during the intro: "Peace to all the real DJs out there" from KRS-One's 'Mad Crew' (ie the DJs that still played jungle) and "Too black, too strong". This second sample is the truncated form of a phrase from Malcolm X's 'Message To The Grassroots' speech which opened Public Enemy's 'Bring The Noise'. The full quote reads: "It's just like when you've got some coffee that's too black, which means it's too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream... you make it weak." The use of Malcolm X's words suggest that Rebel MC felt the scene was becoming diluted and losing what made it such a vibrant form of music.
In the interview with Solid Steel he went on to say: "They tried to change the name so I had to put out a tune, a statement." The soulful yet defiant vocals of Peter Bouncer make this statement loud and clear when they come in acapella:
"When I'm weak, you're tellin' me that I'm strong
When I'm right, you're tellin' me that I'm wrong
But I know and now I understand, now I see,
I see your wicked plan. I'm a Junglist!"
Around the samples and vocals Rebel MC crafts a superb jungle tune that uses the Sandy, Do The Do and Cold Sweat breaks with a couple of tough basslines and dub sirens, while the guitar lick from the beginning of 'Just Kissed My Baby' by The Meters adds some funk to proceedings. It's a powerful track with an enduring message and it was recently included in DJ Mag's 'Top 100 Most Important Drum & Bass Tunes' list. It has been remixed a number of times over the years including versions from DJ Zinc, Ray Keith and Serial Killaz, but the original remains the best.
You can check out the whole Congo Natty interview on Solid Steel below which concludes with a live recording from 1995 featuring Ragga Twins, Navigator, MC Dett and DJ SL:
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
B-Jam - Funkula (DJ Friendly Mix) (No Smoking Records, 1996)
Marley Marl, along with K-Def, produced the vast majority of the first two albums by Lords of the Underground, a trio from Newark, New Jersey consisting of rappers Mr Funke and DoItAll Dupré alongside DJ Lord Jazz. They released two classic albums in the early to mid-nineties - Here Come The Lords (1993) and Keepers Of The Funk (1994). The second of these LPs featured 'Tic Toc' which is the source of the "Ultrafunkula" vocal used on this track by Joe and Tobie Brodie with assistance from Al Massive AKA Alan Clark of Elementz Of Noize.
The original mix came out in 1995 but my preferred version of the tune is the 'DJ Friendly Mix' from the following year. It's not wildly different, but as the name suggests is designed with DJs in mind and starts with a great cut-up of the Think break punctuated by parts of the "Well, I be the funk-ular, ultra-funk-ular, gamma-funk-ular" vocals which are great to cut to when in the mix. This leads into the replayed g-funk melody from Warren G's 'So Many Ways' which opened the original before dropping the stabby reversed bassline. What really makes the track for me though is the sumptuous mid-section which brings in a xylophone melody and double bass that sound like they may have come from 'Tic Toc' but with added strings - a minute of pure bliss. It's possible B-Jam sampled whatever it is Marly Marl used to create that beat but I've yet to find the source, so if anyone has any ideas please let me know (he also used it on World Renown's 'Come Take A Ride'). A great hip-hop sampling jump-up tune given extra depth by that gorgeous breakdown.
There is a fantastic DJ Hype remix of 'Funkula' while the original probably inspired Armand Van Helden's 'Ultrafunkula', which funnily enough Hype's Ganja Kru also remixed. You can hear the original mix of 'Funkula' in this set by Randall from Dreamscape 19 on the 27th May 1995:
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
MA3 - Those DJ's (Formation Records, 1996)
Marlon Williams AKA Marley Marl is one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time with a back catalogue that includes productions for Eric B & Rakim, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane and Masta Ace. One of his very first productions though was 1983's 'Sucker D.J.'s (I Will Survive)' by Dimples D, a female rapper otherwise known as Crystal Smith. It was an answer song to RUN-DMC's 'Sucker M.C.'s (Krush Groove 1)' but wasn't a big seller. However in 1990 it was remixed by Ben Liebrand who sampled the theme tune to I Dream of Jeannie and turned it into a huge international hit.
The record is the source of the vocals on 'Those DJ's' which appeared on the third entry of DJ SS's MA series: "Those DJs that think you're the greatest, just stop, look and listen 'cause you haven't heard the latest". The intro features the Cold Sweat and Life Could breaks which get switched between the left and right stereo channels before the Dimples D vocal brings in a fat waddling bassline which only SS could have made. As the tune develops the Sesame Street break is also introduced before a second vocal sample from 'Sucker D.J.'s' ("See to be a DJ you've got to do your best, have your own kind of style, not like the rest") brings in the Amen for some tear out action. A worthy addition to the series - if you missed them check out my breakdowns of 'Hearing Is Believing' by MA2 and 'Step Into Our World' by MA4.
'Those DJ's' is included on the excellent United Dance: The Designer Collection mix CD by DJ Hype. DJ SS & Barcode remixed the track later the same year and you can hear that version in Serum's 1996-1998 mix below:
Monday, 16 September 2013
Wildchild - Renegade Master (Urban Takeover Mix) (Hi-Life, 1997)
My Monday Retrospect column for DnB Blog this week pays tribute to Gifford Noel AKA DJ Trend with a look at TNT's massive jump-up anthem '2 Degrees'. A respected DJ, producer and label owner, Trend passed away on his 32nd birthday three years ago tomorrow from heart failure. Writing about him reminded me of Roger McKenzie AKA Wildchild, a Southampton based house producer during the early to mid-nineties who had just released his biggest hit ('Renegade Master') and set up his own Dark Black label when he died of an undiagnosed heart condition aged just 24 - RIP. Two years later 'Renegade Master' was remixed by Fatboy Slim, Stretch & Vern and inevitably, Urban Takeover.
Micky Finn & Aphrodite were the go to drum and bass remixers in 1997/1998 following their huge 'No Diggity' bootleg. Their version of 'Renegade Master' follows that remix's formula with the "Back once again for the renegade master / D for damager / Power to the people" vocals cut-up during the intro over the original's screeching horns and a two-step beat. The vocals are sampled and rearranged from 'One For The Trouble' by A.D.O.R. (standing for Another Dimension of Rhythm and A Declaration Of A Revolution), a 1994 hip-hop cut produced by K-Def and Marley Marl. The horns meanwhile are taken from Lords Of The Underground's 'Funky Child', another production from K-Def and Marley Marl who had themselves interpolated them from the Thom Bell Orchestra's 'A Theme For L.A.'s Team' (1971). A big drum roll leads into a typical Urban Takeover bassline with two-step drums that incorporate the Think break. You knew exactly how this remix would sound before even putting the needle on the record but it does the job.
Incidentally, Roni Size's 'Phizical' which I looked at a couple of days ago samples Wildchild's 'Who Needs Who'.
Sunday, 15 September 2013
DJ Crystl - Give It Up (Lucky Spin Recordings, 1994)
This track from DJ Crystl uses the same India vocal sample as Roni Size's 'Phizical'. It was the second entry in the STU series of mostly white label, one sided releases on Lucky Spin. Running from 1994 to 1996 the limited edition series also included 12"s from Orca (AKA Decoder), DJ Trace, Voyager and label owner Justin Cohen AKA Slipmaster J, although several are uncredited. A few of the tracks went on to appear on full Lucky Spin releases but most were exclusive and go for quite a bit on Discogs - at the time of writing the cheapest copy of 'Give It Up' is £27.
It's a typically deep ambient jungle track from Crystl. Opening with breathing sounds, spacey synths and the "Give it up" vocal from India's 'Dancing On The Fire', it's not long before your teased with some stop-start Amen. The treatment of the break is breathtaking, Crystl chopping and timestretching it so that it becomes a melodic as well as rhythmic part of the track. Once it's fully unleashed it's joined by a cavernous bassline and jazzy reversed keys while the celestial vibes continue throughout. A spellbinding tune.
'Give It Up' opens Law's All DJ Crystl Mix Part Two below. The track also appears in Noisemonkey's mix of tracks from the STU series which you can check out here.
Saturday, 14 September 2013
Roni Size - Phizical (V Recordings, 1994)
Here's another tune that uses the Soul Pride break and also samples India. Linda Viera Caballero was born in Puerto Rico in 1969 and shortly afterwards her parents moved to New York. She was given the name India by her grandmother because of her dark features and long straight black hair. Breaking into the music industry as a teenager, she was initially promoted as a Latin version of Madonna but she wanted to focus on a more authentic sound and has become known as "The Princess of Salsa". As well as working with the likes of Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente she also recorded with her then husband Louie Vega's Masters At Work project on tracks such as 'I Can't Get No Sleep' and Nuyorican Soul's 'Runaway'. She has gone on to be nominated for Grammys and remains a huge figure on the Latin scene.
'Phizical' appeared on the Exer-Size EP, a great V Recordings 12" that featured 'Timestretch' on the other side. It samples 'Dancing On The Fire', a single from India's first album Breaking Night, sampling the "Give It Up" vocal throughout. The track starts with synth pads taken from The Wildchild Experience's 'Who Needs Who' along with the India vocal and skittish drums before the swooshing Star Trek sound effect of a door opening on the Enterprise leads into the drop. The track has a bright, upbeat bassline with drums that use the Sesame Street and Soul Pride breaks and has that classic Roni Size sound to it.
'Phizical' appears on Retrospect Volume 1 which you can download directly from V Recordings. Ray Keith remixed the track twice, the Vintage Remix appearing on the Timestretch / Phizical (Remixes) 12" and the Moody Mix on the CD and digital versions of V Classic. Check the original out on Tom Central's Jungle Mix for Arts Hypnotic:
Friday, 13 September 2013
Peshay - Vocal Tune (Good Looking Records, 1995)
While the Amen is the most sampled of all breaks in drum and bass, the music of James Brown is the source of so many breaks that the cumulative influence is even greater - the Think, Hot Pants, Cold Sweat, Tighten Up and Funky Drummer breaks all come from his records. Today though I'm going to have a look at the Soul Pride break from the instrumental of the same name, originally released on King Records in 1969.
It's difficult to ascertain who the drummer on Brown's records was as they mostly weren't credited on the records and he often had two in his band at the same time. Personnel also changed over the years but from what I can gather the great Clyde "Funky Drummer" Stubblefield was the drummer on this one and it's a mighty fine break, going on for a good twenty five seconds meaning there's plenty for producers to pick apart. It's been used countless times in drum and bass but examples include J Majik's 'Your Sound', Dillinja's 'Brutal Bass' and this one from Peshay.
'Vocal Tune' opens with an extended beatless intro featuring jazzy keys and the powerful vocals of India from River Ocean's 'Love & Happiness (Yemaya Y Ochùn)' (1994): "I'm singing to you, I wanna let, wanna let the world know that you represent..." (probably taken from the Junior Boys Own Super Dub where they appear acapella). River Ocean was Louis Vega of Masters At Work and India was his then wife. Strings are added to the mix before the Soul Pride break and 808 kick bass come in for a deep, soulful track with some stunning beat chopping from Peshay (or rather whoever was on the buttons for this one). Timeless stuff.
'Vocal Tune' appeared on the essential Logical Progression Volume 1 compilation. You can hear it towards the end of this LTJ Bukem set from Quest on the 4th June 1994:
Thursday, 12 September 2013
Dillinja - Brutal Bass (Metalheadz, 1995)
Karl Francis AKA Dillinja sampled the voice on Egotrip's 'Dreamworld' on both 'Still Waters' (as Basic Influence) and 'Threshold' but on this one he samples the track's synth instead. 'Brutal Bass' came out on The Angels Fell EP, the first release that Kemistry and Storm put out when they started working for Metalheadz (an incredible one-two punch with J Majik's 'Your Sound' following it). The fact that this was merely the second b-side on the 12" goes to show the quality of the material Dillinja was putting out at this time.
'Brutal Bass', like '7 Minutes Of Maddness', is a tune that does what it says on the tin. It opens with the wind swept synth from 'Dreamworld' before deep stabs of bass like only Dillinja could do pummel you. The track features a "Let it go" vocal alongside some of the finest chopping of the 'Soul Pride' break ever put to wax and an awesome bassline designed to really test your subs. The breakdown brings back the synth while adding melancholy bleeps before the bass and breaks onslaught returns to close the track out. Peerless stuff from Dillinja.
You can hear 'Brutal Bass' along with a number of Dillinja's other classics in Part 1 of Law's History of Dillinja series below. Head over to Drumtrip to listen to and download the whole series. Dillinja will be playing a sure to be fat 90s set at FabricLive on the 20th September with Marcus Intalex, Dub Phizix & Strategy, Fabio and Loxy also on the bill.
Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Bizzy B & Equinox - 7 Minutes of Maddness (Brain Records, 1993)
Bizzy B produced much of Peshay's early material and on this collaboration with Equinox he also samples 'Reach Out' by Sweet Mercy featuring Rowetta. Marlon Sterling AKA Equinox was apparently just sixteen years old when they produced '7 Minutes Of Maddness' which appeared on The Brain Crew EP and is probably referencing Coldcut's seminal remix of Eric B & Rakim's 'Paid In Full'. Equinox's nineties output was rather sporadic but in the last decade he has had a number of releases on labels such as Inperspective, Planet Mu, Bassbin and Subtle Audio, including the awesome 'Acid Rain' (a track he made in 1996) and its subsequent Breakage Remix/VIP.
'7 Minutes Of Maddness' is a tune that does exactly what it says on the tin. It's like a kid with ADHD constantly shifting from one sound to the next, all set to some furious Amen/Soul Pride choppage - one moment it's paranoid, the next euphoric. Most tracks sample 'Reach Out' for the vocals but this tune uses the opening ascending synth from the track underneath the voice from the also well sampled 'Dreamland' by Egotrip (at 2:19 in the video above): "A voice spoke to me from the darkness... this is your dreamworld" (see my post about Marcus Intalex & ST Files' 'Dreamworld' for more on this tune). A disorientating, schizophrenic track and one well ahead of its time.
It's included on Bizzy B's absolutely essential Retrospective compilation on Planet Mu which is available directly from the label here. Check out the track on Kenny Ken's National Groove Movement studio mix from December 1993 which you download over at Hardscore.com
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
LTJ Bukem & Peshay - 19.5 (Good Looking Records, 1994)
My Monday Retrospect column for DnB Blog this week looks at DJ Zinc's 2002 remix of his own 'Reach Out'. The main vocal on the track is sampled from 'Reach Out' by Sweet Mercy feat. Rowetta and that is also the source of the vocal on LTJ Bukem & Peshay's '19.5'.
This was Peshay's debut for the Good Looking stable and he followed it up with the imaginatively named solo tracks 'Piano Tune' and 'Vocal Tune'. The title of '19.5' is a bit more interesting though as it may derive from a theory of Richard Hoagland, a conspiracy theorist and pseudoscientist who is best known for stating that the 'Face on Mars' was constructed by extraterrestrials. His theory of "hyperdimensional physics" states that there are huge amounts of energy originating from other dimensions available at latitudes 19.5° both north and south on the Sun and every planet in the Solar System, pointing to solar flares, volcanoes and Jupiter's Great Red Spot as examples.
While clearly a load of old cobblers, it makes for an appropriate title for this spacey but energetic track. It opens with stabs of 808 kick bass and the Amen break before everything drops out for some ethereal synths sampled from the beginning of 'What Have You Got To Lose' by The Jammers, an early eighties disco/boogie group who recorded for Salsoul Records. This is joined by the "Mmmmmmmmmmmm, yeah" vocal from 'Reach Out' before the Amen and bassline come back in. The later portion of the tune brings in some gorgeous synthetic strings and percussion from Daydreamer's 'Happy Dreams', a 1991 Belgian techno tune. A deep cut from Bukem & Peshay with the 12" including the equally good '19.5 Reprisal' on the flipside.
'19.5' was included on the Good Looking compilation Point In Time 001. Check the tune out in this 'Peshay Works (1992-1997)' mix from J Rolla:
Monday, 9 September 2013
Calibre - Fire & Water (Soul:R, 2001)
In 2001 Marcus Intalex & ST File started the Soul:R label to put out their own tracks and those of like-minded producers. One such producer is Dominick Martin AKA Calibre who has put out a number of releases on the imprint over the years as well as collaborating with M.I.S.T. as Mist:i:cal and with ST Files as St. Cal. His debut for the label was their second release 'Interphaze / Fire & Water' and once again I'm going to be taking a look at the AA Side.
While 'Interphaze' is a great track I think most people would agree that 'Fire & Water' is the pick of the two. It's a heavy track that opens with a steppa's break that sound like an interestingly chopped 'Sport'. Over this there is a hypnotic guitar loop and a difficult to make out reverbed vocal that is actually saying "Miss Wire Waist" and is from the track of the same name by Carl Malcolm. The dub influenced bassline on this one is just immense and combined with the little snatches of the Carl Malcolm tune the vibe of the track always reminds me of Digital, although Calibre stamps his own sound on it as well. A tune up there with his best.
Check 'Fire & Water' in this three hour set from Calibre with MC Fats from Budapest in 2004:
Sunday, 8 September 2013
Ill Figure - Style (Suburban Base, 1996)
On Beastie Boys' 'Get It Together' Q-Tip raps "Listen to the shit cause I am the ill figure". The Ill Figure I'm talking about though is actually the duo now better known as Marcus Intalex & ST Files who first adopted the alias for a pair of releases on Intalex Productions before using it again on 'Untouchable / Style' for the great Suburban Base imprint. However Q-Tip's A Tribe Called Quest did provide some of the inspiration for the B Side of this 12".
It features the "Yeah Y'all, Ah Hah" from an untitled track on Cannonball Adderley's The Black Messiah album which ATCQ sampled on their 1996 single '1nce Again' (which featured Tammy Lucas who ST Files sampled on 'Systematic'). The vocal appears during the intro over what sounds like movie theme horns along with martial arts samples including the title-lending "Style", sword swishing and laughter, probably all taken from the 1983 film Shaolin & Wu Tang. The track has a shifting wobble bassline which always reminds me of Nasty Habits' '4 Da Cause', particularly after the second drop, while the drums use the Cold Sweat and It's A New Day breaks. A heavyweight jump-up tune.
Dieselboy included 'Style' on his 97 Octane mix album. You can also check the track out in this mix of classic jump-up and hip-hop from DJ Vetoe:
Saturday, 7 September 2013
ST Files - Systematic (Intalex Productions, 1995)
Lee Davenport AKA ST Files was introduced to Marcus Intalex by Flex Records boss and fellow northerner L Double in the early nineties. Marcus recalled in an interview with XLR8R in 2007 that: "We used to fucking hate each other. I was into hard Belgian and Detroit techno and the angrier acid house, and he just wanted to buy happy Italian piano-house cheesy bullshit". However they found common ground in hardcore and jungle and started working together. Released on the Intalex label, 'Systematic' b/w 'Sky High' was the first ST Files record I got hold of and fortunately there is no trace of any gorgonzola on this one.
Like Da Intalex's 'What Ya Gonna Do' this is a tune that features a mellow intro before developing into a more rugged affair. It opens with warm synth, wonderfully cut-up Apache and "Woahhh woahhh yeaahhh" r'n'b vocals from 'Is It Good To You' by Teddy Riley (later of Blackstreet) and Tammy Lucas (who went on to sing the hook on A Tribe Called Quest's '1nce Again'). Ragga style "Systemically... Terminology" vocals from Snuff & Wally's 'Dreader Mafia' hint at the roughness to follow and an angry bassline is promptly deployed to devastating effect. I have to admit I'd rather forgotten about this record so it was a joy finding it in the collection and hearing it again. The flip's a more sedate stepper that used to feature in LTJ Bukem's sets in 1995, making this a nice little 12" which you can get hold for next to nothing on discogs.
Check out this snippet of an unreleased dubplate remix of 'Systematic':
Friday, 6 September 2013
Da Intalex - What Ya Gonna Do (Flex Records, 1994)
Like Future Cut, Marcus Intalex and ST Files (AKA Marcus Kaye and Lee Davenport) both came up on the Manchester scene. Kaye, who actually grew up in Burnley, first came to people's attention as part of Da Intalex with Mark McKinley AKA Mark XTC. The pair both worked at Manchester's Eastern Bloc record store and ran the Intalex label while also presenting the Kiss/Galaxy 102 jungle/drum and bass show together from 1993 until 2000. Their first outing on wax was 'What Ya Gonna Do', released on L Double's Flex Records in early summer '94.
There are hints of Kaye's future productions in the way the record incorporates gorgeous melodic elements with a killer dancefloor instinct. The breathtaking intro features chimes and Detroit inspired synths alongside diva vocals from Mary J Blige's 'My Love', eventually bringing in the 'Sesame Street' break. Blige's "What ya gonna do" line leads into the drop which delivers deep hits of bass along with Think/Cold Sweat/Sesame Street drums for a hardstepping track that's also capable of giving you goosebumps. Simply awesome stuff.
You can find 'What Ya Gonna Do' in only slightly edited form on Breakdown Record's DJ Box Volume 1 compilation. The run out on the 12" includes a shout out to Randall so it's only appropriate to hear him close out his set with the track at the Amnesia House 'Big Bank Holiday Bash' from the 1st May 1994 with Bassman on the mic:
Thursday, 5 September 2013
Un-Cut - Midnight (Marcus Intalex & ST Files Remix) (Wired Productions, 2001)
Three certainly seems to be the magic number when it comes to vocal drum and bass during this period: Un-Cut were the coming together of Manchester production duo Future Cut and singer Jenna G(ibbons). The trio first worked together on 'Borderline' from Future Cut's Bloodline EP, with Jenna G then providing vocals on both sides of their Metalheadz 12", Obsession / Tear Out My Heart. 'Midnight' was their first track as Un-Cut and was later re-released when their debut album The Un-calculated Some came out on Warner in 2003.
The original mix, while decent, was rather overshadowed by the version from Marcus Intalex & ST Files, who were absolutely smashing it with their remixes around this time - just check their reinterpretations of MJ Cole, Solid State and 4 Hero for further evidence. Like the original the remix borrows large chunks of Shirley Bassey's version of The Doors' 'Light My Fire', with the strings, guitar licks and horn stabs all coming from her 1970 cover. To this MIST add crisp two-step drums, a warm fluid bassline and keys for a lush track that epitomises the liquid funk sound. The song itself is a blinder with Jenna G's soulful vocals really capturing that feeling of joyful abandon, the desire to escape the tedium of day to day life and let the music take control:
"Cause I'm drawn by a feelin'
The night is callin' me
I'm ready to start livin'
Where music flows free"
The track was caned by everyone for ages and is an undeniable classic, recently being included in DJ Mag's Top 100 Most Important Drum & Bass Tunes list. When it was re-released in 2003 MIST provided a VIP update of their remix with grandiose strings, bongos and a sample of The Gift of Gab's "Midnight" vocal from DJ Shadow's 'Midnight In A Perfect World', although I prefer the earlier version. The Un-calculated Some album, which blended soul, jazz and mellow drum and bass, wasn't a big hit and they were quickly dropped by Warner although both Future Cut and Jenna G have carved successful careers in the music industry for themselves since.
The MIST VIP Mix appeared on Drum&BassArena's Anthology 2 compilation which is available to download here. Like Breakbeat Era and Kosheen, Un-Cut performed live but I couldn't find any videos so here's Jenna G singing 'Midnight' in 2008 at a Melbourne club with dBridge on the decks:
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
Kosheen - (Slip & Slide) Suicide (Moksha Recordings, 2001)
Kosheen, like Breakbeat Era, are a trio consisting of two Bristol based producers (Decoder & Substance) and a singer (Sian Evans) who took drum and bass into more song-based territory around the turn of the millennium. After a couple of singles in the late nineties they put out their Resist LP in 2001 which blended drum & bass with pop and trip-hop and included the top 10 hit 'Hide U'. While much of the album is a bit too smooth for my liking it does include a few darker tracks including 'Pride' and my personal favourite, '(Slip & Slide) Suicide'.
The track was put out as a single in the run-up to the album's release and gets the balance between pop and drum & bass just right. Despite the subject matter the tune is remarkably catchy with Evans providing a memorable hook:
"Drop that rhythm and you unwind
Keep that feeling and you step in time
All too pretty for a real life
Decoder & Substance back the vocals up with production that is more typical of their underground releases than the rest of the album. The melodic elements are fairly sparse but the synth during the chorus complements the vocals well while the gritty bassline is dark yet funky. While the majority of the track is at a regular 170 BPM it drops into a half-speed beat in the middle, something they expanded on with a hip hop mix on the 12". As with the rest of the singles from Resist they also provide a tougher remix aimed at the 'floor which reduces the vocals while emphasising the bassline and drums - check out their versions of 'Empty Skies', 'Catch' and 'Demonstrate'. Unfortunately the group's subsequent albums moved away from drum and bass with an increasingly rock-based sound and 'Suicide' remains their finest moment.
I actually saw Kosheen perform live at my graduation ball in 2002 which was the highlight of the night (not hard though when the main act was the Sugababes). You can watch them perform '(Slip & Slide) Suicide' at Exit 2001 below:
Tuesday, 3 September 2013
Breakbeat Era - Ultra-Obscene (XL Recordings, 1999)
Breakbeat Era were the trio of Roni Size, DJ Die and singer Leonie Laws. Size and Die were introduced to Laws by a mutual friend on the Bristol free party scene and they first recorded together in 1996 on a Scorpio track entitled 'Breakbeat Era' that was included on the Music Box compilation. The success of that track led to interest from record labels and the group signed to XL Recordings who released the Ultra Obscene LP in 1999. Although the album incorporates rock and pop elements Roni Size and DJ Die don't water down their sound for the mainstream and most of the record isn't too far removed from their Full Cycle output, while Laws brings a free spirited punk attitude to the project.
The title cut was also the second single, following a remixed version of 'Breakbeat Era', and it opens with a fantastic stuttered cut-up of the 'Sing A Simple Song' break which is treated to some heavy flanging. A blast of flute brings in Laws' vocals which as the title suggests are sexual in nature: "Meet me down by the river / Lay me down and pull the trigger". The track came about by accident when Laws heard the bassline and hummed along to it, that "huh huh huh" formed the basis of the lyrics and the whole thing was finished that afternoon and the following morning. The bassline and 'Sing A Simple Song' break are the backbone of the track and are accompanied by live vibraphone and guitar as well as strings and other sound effects. A catchy track that showed drum and bass could use the verse chorus verse song structure without losing its dancefloor edge.
Download 'Ultra-Obscene' from Drum&BassArena where the whole album is available for just £4.99. Check the video below to see an interview with Leonie Laws along with a live performance of 'Rancid':
Monday, 2 September 2013
Scorpio - Trouble (V Recordings, 1997)
The 'Sing A Simple Song' break, which was used in a couple of tracks I've featured recently, comes from the Sly & The Family Stone song of the same name from their 1968 album Stand!. It became a staple hip-hop break as Sly Stone's use of the stereo field meant that the drums could be isolated on the right channel - you can hear it on 'The Humpty Dance' by Digital Underground and 'Sound Of Da Police' by KRS-One for instance. It has also been frequently used in drum and bass on tracks such as the Origin Unknown remix of Busta Rhymes' 'Woo Hah!!' and this one from Roni Size and DJ Die.
The Scorpio alias was first used by the duo on Mellow Song / Turn Dance from 1996 and derives from both producer's star sign, while also referencing another well used break. 'Trouble' opens with fragmented drums which gradually form into a regular beat along with hollow hits of bass and a choral sound effect that always reminds me of the beginning of The Simpsons Theme. Over this there is a vocal sample from the disco classic 'Last Night A DJ Saved My Life' by Indeep: "Don't let it trouble, trouble, trouble your brain". As the vocal samples moves on to the "Away goes trouble down the drain" part the drums build up to the drop which brings in a plunging bassline over drums that use the 'Sing A Simple Song' break layered with the 'It's A New Day' break. As it develops a hypnotic, swirling bassline takes over with the plunging bass dropped in at regular intervals. A minimal stepper's track that is comparable to DJ Krust's 'Warhead' which came out just a month later.
Sunday, 1 September 2013
Dope Skillz - No Diggidy (True Playaz, 1997)
Released in early '97 not long after the Urban Takeover remix of 'No Diggity', this similarly titled track doesn't actually sample the Blackstreet tune. But with Dope Skillz AKA DJ Zinc you can always expect a few hip-hop samples and this tune doesn't disappoint.
Zinc crafts a paranoid roller in the vein of 'Is This A Game' with an intro that has strings that sneak up on you, gradually building over pitchshifting drums. A classic scratch effect that appeared on Simon Harris' Beats, Breaks & Scratches Volume 2 (as 'Chaah1') but originating in Afrika Bambaataa & James Brown's 'Unity Part 3 (Natural Wildstyle)' introduces the "No Diggidy" vocal. I'm not certain of the exact source but it sounds like a pitched down Grand Puba or Sadat X who used the phrase a number of times in the mid-nineties. The vocal brings in the bassline which has a funky edge to it despite the dark vibe of the tune while the tightly edited drums are superb, using what sounds like the 'Sing A Simple Song' and 'Hot Pants' breaks. One of Zinc's most underrated tracks.
You can purchase the digital of 'No Diggidy' from Beatport and Juno Download.