Friday, 8 January 2016

Rude Bwoy Monty - Warp 9 Mr Zulu

Rude Bwoy Monty - Warp 9 Mr Zulu (Frontline Records, 1995)

I'm a geek. Even worse, I'm a sample geek. For instance, I can't hear Drake's 'Hotline Bling' without telling anyone in earshot where the organ riff comes from ('Why Can't We Live Together' by Timmy Thomas if you're interested). As well as regularly boring other people I also waste inordinate amounts of my own time on often fruitless searches for those unidentified samples that I just have to know. But it's all worth it when I find the source of a sample that I thought would remain forever buried.

Which brings us to 'Warp 9 Mr Zulu'. The track was often referred to as 'The Hawaiian Tune' instead of its official Star Trek referencing title thanks to the rather cheesy steel guitar intro. It was part of a trend in DnB at the time that saw producers such as DJ SS and Marvellous Cain go to some rather dubious sources for their intros on tunes such as 'The Lighter' and 'High Chaparral'. In Issue 6 of Knowledge, Rude Bwoy Monty even credits SS for inspiring his sample hunting:

"I'm looking to create a tune called "The Beast," laughs Monty. ""Mash Up" by DJ SS inspired me to look for some samples for it, but I couldn't find the right one. However, I did stumble across the Hawaiian theme and from there "Warp 9" was away."

While the intro has pretty much nothing else to do with the rest of the tune, it does make 'Warp 9' particularly memorable. It was a favourite of mine at the time and I'd always wondered where the sample was from but it was only after reading a comment Monty himself made on a youtube video of the track a few years ago that I really started searching in earnest for it:

"I bet pugwash back in the dayz whe i made this... he would neva find the sample on the front of this... 2 this day he was neva able to tell R.B.M"

I took this as a challenge and went to some lengths to locate the sample, listening to more Hawaiian music than one man ever should. I even emailed random Hawaiian steel guitar enthusiasts who I imagine were rather perplexed by the whole thing, but all to no avail. I eventually admitted defeat and got back to doing more worthwhile things searching for other samples.

Fast forward to late last year and the radio is on at work. BBC Radio 2's Pop Master quiz has reached the grand final and a contestant is asked to identify the group behind a 1970s instrumental track from a short excerpt. I immediately recognise the melody from 'Warp 9' and drop what I'm doing to listen. The contestant incorrectly guesses at Fleetwood Mac before the presenter Ken Bruce reveals the answer... Springwater with 'I Will Return'.

A very appropriate title for the first post on this blog in eighteen months. Only that's not the sample source. After listening to the whole track later, I realised 'Warp 9' must have sampled a cover of 'I Will Return'. And so the hunt started again. Unfortunately it seems 'I Will Return' has been covered a multitude of times with versions from James Last, The Shadows and Apollo 100 amongst many others, as well as the melody being used on Sarah Brightman's 'Storia d'Amore' and a vocal version in German entitled 'Du Weinst Um Mich' by Michael Holm. I listened to all of these. And it wasn't any of them.

It was frustrating being so close without having the answer, but then I had a brainwave. I searched for covers of 'Du Weinst Um Mich' and found another version. I clicked on the youtube video, holding my breath. It started playing and right away I knew it was the one. A bit slower, but obviously what Monty sampled for 'Warp 9'. It's part of Orchestra Leslie Carlton's 'Hits Instrumental' selection from a German LP called Super Stereo Hit Party, which also features the scintillating sounds of Dave Daffodil & His Honey Sax. If it wasn't for someone uploading it to youtube I doubt I would ever have found it, but I'm very happy to finally know.

As for the rest of 'Warp 9'... well that intro would have been wasted if the track wasn't up to scratch but of course Monty, with Pascal on engineering duties, delivers a huge tune with a gargantuan, oversized bassline that stomps around like an elephant on ecstacy. In other words it's not in any way subtle and does some serious damage. Drums using the Think and Sesame Street breaks accompany it with some Amen coming in underneath before the tune moves up a notch when the Amen takes over during the second half. Jump-up at its finest.

The track was remixed as 'Warp 10' for the Frontline/Ganja Records compilation Still Smokin with a much more obvious sample replacing the Hawaiian guitar - Bill Conti's 'Gonna Fly Now', otherwise known as the theme from Rocky. There was a dubplate version of 'Warp 10' though that retained some of 'I Will Return' with a snippet of the guitar appearing occasionally over the bassline. Hear a clip of that mix below, a shame it didn't get used for the LP:

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