Monthly Archives: August 2010

Thank Funk It’s Friday – 2010.08.27

Sampledelica

Sampling in music refers to the use (either legally or illegally) of another artist’s work to create or enhance a new recording. Although, it was first experimented with in the early 1960s, the practice did not reach the mainstream until twenty years later during the birth of Hip-Hop.

Since the pioneering work of Grandmaster Flash, sampling has been used in the studio to extract drum breaks, borrow bass lines and lift orchestral strings. Whether a sample includes a couple of notes or lasts up to 16 bars, it has been the cornerstone of Hip-Hop and House music for the last 25 years.

This week’s TFIF mix gives a nod to the art of sampling with three tracks that would not exist without a bit of crate digging.

First up is the song ‘Swan Lake’ by Blackalicious, which features a lot of the instrumentation from O’Donel Levy’s classic tune ‘People Make The World Go Round’. The song had been recorded earlier but it’s the Jazz guitarist’s funky version from the 1973 album ‘Dawn Of A New Day’ that forms the foundation of ‘Swan Lake’.

Next is ‘Root Down’ by the Beastie Boys who have, over the years, probably sampled more songs than anyone else in Hip-Hop. The song can be found on their 1994 LP ‘Ill Communication’ and uses the original ‘Root Down’ by Jimmy Smith as the basis for all of the instrumentation. In fact, I read once that during the making of ‘Ill Communication’ the Jimmy Smith album was always on the turntable in the studio. The three boys really loved the title track but couldn’t figure out how to use it in a song. That is, until someone suggested using the actual song itself and just rapping over it.

The third song in this week’s mix is ‘Devil’s Pie’ by D’Angelo, which features the bass line from a Teddy Pendergrass ballad called ‘And If I Had’. The track comes from the former Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes singer’s 1977 debut album ‘Teddy Pendergrass’.

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For The Record – ‘Johnny Cash At San Quentin’

On this day in 1969, Johnny Cash reached the top spot in the Album Charts with his live LP ‘Johnny Cash At San Quentin’. The album was recorded in California’s oldest prison that year, at a show in February, and then released in June; just over one year after his first surprisingly successful live album, ‘Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison’.

Cash created and maintained an outlaw image throughout his entire career and, although he never actually served a prison sentence, his numerous brushes with the law gave him a deep compassion for prisoners. He began performing in prisons in the late 1950s with his first ever prison concert on January 1, 1958 at San Quentin State Prison.

From that time, Cash had the desire to release a live album of one of his performances within a penitentiary, but an uninterested record label and a severe drug-addiction meant that the project did not come to fruition until 1968. By that time, Cash had turned his career around by controlling his drug abuse, marrying June Carter and establishing new relationships with the personnel in Columbia Records.

‘At Folsom Prison’ rejuvenated Cash’s career and his subsequent release, ‘At San Quentin’, became his first album to reach the Number One position in the Pop Charts. It also provided him with a hit single in ‘A Boy Named Sue’. This success ultimately led to an offer from ABC that gave Cash his very own television show from 1969 – 1971.

At the age of 37, the ‘Man In Black’ was back.

Thank Funk It’s Friday – 2010.08.20

This week’s mix is an ode to the Roller Disco on Mixcloud.com

The track listing is:

01. Good Times – Chic
02. Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll – Vaughan Mason & Crew
03. A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays’ – De La Soul

‘Good Times’ was released in August 1979 during the height of the Disco craze. The song climbed to Number 1 in the charts, was the musical basis for dozens of songs and went on to become one of the most sampled tunes in the history of music.

Throughout the second-half of 1979, Chic played several Hip-Hop events with Blondie and ‘Good Times’ proved to be a favourite among the young breakdancers who attended. At the end of the year, front-man Nile Rodgers was in a New York club when he heard the DJ play a song that had ‘stolen’ the bass line from ‘Good Times’. The thieves were identified as The Sugarhill Gang and the song turned out to be ‘Rappers Delight’. Although legal action was initially threatened, The Sugarhill Gang offered to credit Rodgers and Bernard Edwards as co-writers on ‘Rappers Delight’. They agreed. Hip-Hop had its first commercial song and it hit the big-time with the opening phrase:

I said a hip hop, the hippie, the hippie to the hip-hip-hop, a-you dont stop
The rock it to the bang-bang-boogie, say up jumped the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat

Soul Kitchen 02 – The ‘Genius Of Love’ Mix

Soul Kitchen is back and the sophomore mix gives a nod to the New Wave band Tom Tom Club, founded by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. The husband/wife pair were better known as fifty percent of Talking Heads but on their second Tom Tom single, ‘Genius Of Love’, they were one-hundred percent purveyors of club-friendly, mutated Funk.

This month’s track listing is:

0_1 I’ll Fly Away } Ballistic Brothers
0_2 Sipping On The Sweet Nectar } Jens Lekman
0_3 A Man’s Best Friend Is A Bed } Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five
0_4 Beautiful Here (Flevans Remix) } Lack Of Afro
0_5 Bizarre Love Triangle } Dear Switcher Disco
0_6 How Do You See Me Now? } Extortion
0_7 Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) } Kenny Rogers
0_8 All Aboard } Muddy Waters
0_9 Genius Of Love (Instrumental Edit) } Tom Tom Club
1_0 What It Feels Like For A Girl (Stephane Pompougnac Remix) } Madonna
1_1 Rule } Nas
1_2 Turn Around (Original 12″ Mix) } Phats & Small
1_3 The Imperial Probe } London Symphony Orchestra
1_4 Walk On The Wild Side } Tok Tok Tok

Mixcloud Cloud Cast – click here

Thank Funk It’s Friday – 2010.08.13

Following a brief hiatus, ‘Thank Funk It’s Friday’ is back and funkier than ever. After a couple of months of selecting just one tune a week to get the funk out, I started thinking, ‘Why choose one tune when you can select, I don’t know, three?’ So, here you have it – the very first, three-song ‘TFIF’ mix ever.

As the immortal James Brown said, ‘Let’s take it to the bridge!

On the one!

Charles Wright and the 103rd Street Rhythm Band got their big break in 1966 when Bill Cosby hired them to be his backing band. Their work with him led to a record deal with Warner Brothers and during the late 1960s and early 1970s they became a major force on the Funk scene. Their biggest hit, ‘Express Yourself’ was released in 1970 and had been sampled to death by numerous Hip-Hop artists including, NWA and Public Enemy.

Two!

Memphis Black is an obscure artist to say the least and is, amusingly, neither from Memphis or black. He is, in fact, a pianist from Germany, known to his family and friends as Ingried Hoffman who spent years playing in a Jazz quartet before placing his hands on a Hammond organ. It’s a good thing he did because in 1967 he released the chunky, wailing, groovy track ‘Why Don’t You Play The Organ Man’ and secured his place among the must-have pieces of wax for obscure-loving, crate-digging DJs and music lovers forever.

Three!

Sharon Jones met the Soul Providers in the mid-1990s during a recording session and liked her so much they asked her to sing on a couple of tracks. Several years passed and their label, Desco, mutated into what is now considered Brooklyn’s finest – Daptone. They also changed their name to the Dap-Kings and today they are at the forefront of the revitalisation of Funk’s hey-day in the late 1960s. The band have recorded three albums (to date) with Jones and also played back-up to Amy Winehouse on ‘Back In Black’. Their love and passion for the essence of Funk and Soul music is so strong that they use mid-1970s instruments and record on analogue equipment. The result? A tune like ‘How Long Am I Going To Have To Wait For You’, which features on their 2002 release ‘Dap Dippin’ With Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings’.

If you like any of these tracks, you can download them individually from:
http://www.mediafire.com/?323u6cls1z3if

Have a great weekend and keep on funkin’…

For The Record – ‘The Prince’

Madness burst onto the scene on this day in 1979 with their first single, ‘The Prince’. It was released on 2 Tone Records and paid tribute to the Jamaican Ska singer Prince Buster, who was one of their major influences. In fact, the group took their name from one of his songs.

The band had formed three years earlier but went through several personnel changes before settling on six members (later seven), including Graham McPherson (aka Suggs) on vocals.

‘The Prince’ was recorded for a mere 200 pounds and released on The Specials’ founder/keyboardist Jerry Dammers’ label. The single was a surprise hit because the band were completely unknown at the time. However, an appearance on Top Of The Pops quickly spread the word and they soon found themselves touring with The Specials and The Selector.

Later that same year, the band recorded their debut album, ‘One Step Beyond’, which remained in the charts for over a year and eventually made them one of the prominent bands of the Ska revival.

“With a rock-steady beat, an earthquake is erupting”…

For The Record – ‘Purple Rain’

On this day in 1984, Prince assumed the Number One album slot with his masterpiece ‘Purple Rain’. The record had been released at the end of June and in six short weeks sold nearly one million copies. It spent 24 weeks in the top slot and has sold, to date, more than 13 million copies.

Later that same year, Prince became the first singer to achieve three simultaneous Number One positions with the Number One album (‘Purple Rain’), Number One single (‘When Doves Cry’) and the Number One film (‘Purple Rain’).

In 1985, he scooped up awards everywhere he went including, the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, the Grammy for Best Album of Original Score Material and an Oscar for Best Original Song Score – all for ‘Purple Rain’, of course.

Although Prince wrote all of the songs, he credited his backing group, known as The Revolution, for the first time on this record. From the avant-garde feel of ‘When Doves Cry’, which did not contain a bass line, to the psuedo-psychedelic, hard(ish)-rock riffs in ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, Prince and The Revolution combined electronic elements/effects with full-band performances to produce an album that crossed and conquered almost every single genre of music. Today, ‘Purple Rain’ is consistently regarded as one of the best albums of all-time.

Interestingly, after the massive success of ‘Purple Rain’, Prince chose to release his next album, ‘Around The World In A Day’, in 1985 without any publicity or the promotion of an official single. However, his success continued when the album went to Number One and ‘Raspberry Beret’ reached the Number Two position on the Billboard Charts in America.