George Clinton & P Funk | Atomic Dog

3 06 2010

To anyone who grew up in the early 90’s this song will immediately sound familiar but it was actually released in 1982. It was George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic’s last song to hit #1 on the Billboard charts. Despite a lack of air play, this song became widely popular which eventually prompted radio stations across the US to finally give it some love. The reason so many young people will recognize it is that it has been sampled over 50 times by various hip hop artists. The most notable is Snoop Dog’s “Who Am I ? (What’s My Name)” but the list includes others such as Biz Markie, Digital Undeground, Ice Cube, MC Hammer, 2Pac and more. The song not only features a great hook and a the refrain of “Bow Wow Wow…” seems to never get old. This version below is the extended version that stretches to almost 10 minutes. In this version, P Funk’s Bernie Worrell really flexes his muscles on the Moog while Bootsy Collins just digs in deep on the repetitive bass line.

That song will forever standout in the P Funk catalog but I am also partial to an earlier hit from 1978, “Flashlight”. This song was written as a tribute to Bootsy Collins although the distinct bass groove is actually played by Worrell on the Moog. Interestingly, Bootsy plays drums on the track in the studio version though. “Flash Light” was also heavily sampled and by the usually suspects… Snoop, Digital Underground, 2Pac, and so on. Like “Atomic Dog”, George and Co recorded an extended version of this tune but the one below is the condensed version.

References:

More info on George Clinton

More info on “Atomic Dog”

More info on “Flash Light”

More info on Parliament Funkadelic

More info on Bootsy Collins

More info on Bernie Worrell

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Feelin’ Good

27 04 2010

This tune is simply a classic. Written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1964 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd it has been covered and/or sampled by countless artist. The most notable version though has got to be Nina Simone’s from her 1965 album I Put Spell On You. Below is a student produced music video for that epic song.

There are so many others that I cannot include them all here but there is a list of just a few below. Each artist’s name is actually a link to their unique version. Have a listen and see how each puts their own personal touch on this timeless hit. There are quite a few cool versions here. My favorites are probably Coltrane, Traffic and Jean DuShon, with My Brightest Diamond and Joe Bonamassa coming in close second… but the others are excellent as well. Too close for me to make the call. Go ahead and judge for yourself:

John Coltrane

Gilbert Price

Traffic

Sammy Davis Jr

Bobby Darin

Freda Payne

Joe Sample & Randy Crawford

Jean DuShon

Joe Bonamassa

George Micheal

My Brightest Diamond

Muse

*For a complete list of artists and some more info about “Feelin’ Good” click HERE.





Guilty Pleasures

19 02 2010

We all have them and I am no exception. A good friend recently asked what mine are. It was part of a discussion about the stress of putting your iPod on shuffle while with others and hoping that one of those guilty pleasures doesn’t somehow pop up and embarrass you, which always seems to happen. Here are a few of my guilty pleasures but I’m not that embarrassed by them so I don’t know if they really count. But, they are certainly not tunes I want the guy next to me on the subway overhearing from my headphones although they’re really nice to squeeze into playlists here and there… they seem to go really well with the rest of the ‘so bad it’s good’ yacht rock in my library. I hear this stuff is coming back so maybe I’m actually on the fore of something big here.

This is Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl”. I once worked with a guy who famously said, “Daryl Hall is the greatest blonde-haired, blue-eyed soul singer of his time”. Despite not being able to come up with another to challenge that, I would hardly give the guy that much credit. Nevertheless, they do have some really great songs… and this is perhaps their best. Either this or “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”. It’s too close to call.

I just want to add that Hall’s outfit in this is hysterical. It’s way Don Johnson in Miami Vice.

Here’s Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin”. Now this one is more commonly appreciated because it was the sample used for Warren G’s “Regulate” circa 1994. Sure McDonald is hard to take seriously but it’s a pretty good song. There is a newer live version available but I actually prefer this early 80’s disaster of a music video.

Bowie should never be a guilty pleasure but I tend to lump “Ashes to Ashes” in there. Unfortunately, Mr. Bowie has blocked the embedding of the official video (yes, every single one on the web) so this is just the song with the album cover. It’s from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) ca. 1980.

This is both guilty pleasure and Soundtrack classic. Huey Lewis & the News’ 1985 hit from Back to the Future, “Back in Time”. Embarrassing and amazing all at the same.

This does not fit the soft rock trend going on here but it still qualifies for the guilty pleasure category. Weezer doing “Undone (The Sweater Song) back in 1994 on The John Stewart Show. That’s right, not the Daily Show… this was that long ago. Look how young they are…





Beware The Two Headed Freap

18 02 2010

I’ve been looking for a Ronnie Foster album from 1972 off Blue Note entitled The Two Headed Freap. I’ve tried to track it down on vinyl for a while now but just can’t seem to find a copy in my local record shops. It’s a great “acid-jazz” album that features this cult(ish) classic “Mystic Brew”. The tune may sound familiar as it has been sampled numerous times by a hand full of hip hop artists. The most notable in my mind is A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation”, from their 1994 album Midnight Marauders. It’s a great example of how a sample can be used to create a piece that stands on it’s own. In this case, it may even be regarded as better… well, certainly more successful. That aside, there’s definitely something slightly more compelling about the Tribe song than the original. But that’s mostly attributed to the fact that this early acid jazz was really watered down at the time plus Tribe tends to make a lot out of a little as seen in most of their work. Also notable is the fact that the beat is a three bar loop which is very uncommon in Hip Hop. Most popular music utilizes even meters and/or time signatures but the cool thing about 3 (odd) is that once you double it, it becomes 6 (even) so you can be playful with the feel, taking it in either an odd or even direction. Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” is a phenomenal example of this in the jazz world.

Below is Ronnie’s “Mystic Brew” and A Tribe Called Quests’ “Electric Relaxation”. To give it another dimension, I have also included contemporary jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer’s version of “Mystic Brew” from his 2009 album Historicity. I like to place them all side by side to see/hear the transformations and adaptations that have occurred over the years.

Other uses of this sample include:

Madlib’s “Mystic Bounce” off Shades of Blue

Pete Rock’s ’99 Mix Tape version off Diggin’ On Blue

Freeway’s “Alright” off Philadelphia Freewayinstrumental version too

Marco Polo’s “Relax” off Port Authority

Joy Jones’ “Over” off GodChild Directed

Rell’s “Real Love” (Single produced by Kanye West)
Other Links:

More about Ronnie Foster’s career

More on Sampling as an industry practice

Academic brief on Sampling

Ref: Wayne Shorter’s Footprints from Adam’s Apple (Blue Note ca 1966)








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