One of the things I like about hip-hop is the samples. Now this usually means the older stuff that I heard when I was a kid, like De La Soul, Arrested Development, A Tribe Called Quest and so forth (you know, the good stuff). Even stuff now, like DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, RJD2 and the Avalanches, rely so much on samples, that’s it’s quite fun and informative to check the linear notes on the CD and then check out the artists name checked on them. It’s one thing to find out it’s James Brown, but it’s another to find out it’s someone like David Axelrod, who was largely forgotten about. DJ Shadow samples him, and bang 5 years later he’s back making a new album. The Sampled series of compilations (up to 4 at last count) contain the original tracks that have been sampled by some pretty big hits and it’s quite a listen.
Aside from the sheer geek value, there’s plenty of musical goodness to be had here. Personally speaking, I’m full of admirations for someone like Moby, who could take a track here as raw as “Troubled So Hard” by Vera Hall and then turn it into a global hit. True there’s some pretty big names that have song’s that you’ll probably know already (“Good Times” by Chic and Rick James’ “Superfreak” are the probably the best known), but there’s plenty of good stuff here. I loved hearing the fact that a tiny snippet from Lyn Collins’ “Think (About It)” became that “whoo, yeah!” sample that’s been used like a million times in hip-ho and dance muisc over the years (you’ll know it when you hear it).
Even better is the fact that some of the original tracks are even better than their illegitimate offspring. My favourite is “Let Me Down Easy” by Rare Pleasure, that became “Needin’ You” by David Morales. It’s an upbeat disco track, with a killer piano line that I just love to bits. This is a fun album, and the best thing to do with it is to put it on and watch the recognition on people’s faces when they recognise where they’ve heard that track.
Chic – Good Times: