I’ve always loved Doris Troy before I even knew her work. As a 12 year old this Pepsi commercial is seared into my memory (probably like all pre-pubescent dudes at the time.) “Just One Look” is so iconic and just a perfectly recorded song in so many areas. I slept on this one recently but it certainly has all the right elements that made her other hit such a fine recording. Can’t get enough of this one.
I’ve always had a love affair with Joe Meek’s music and strange life– “Telstar”, I always thought, would be the perfect dirge at my funeral. Meek was so innovative for his time, lacing spooky instrumentals with washes of echo and sound effects. He sang, composed, and famously produced so many songs, and a good number of them were weird and icy, mostly due to his innovations behind the engineering board. It was also said he had a weird obsession with Buddy Holly, claiming that he spoke to him from the afterlife.
Meek also infamously told Brian Epstein not to sign the Beatles and advised the Small Faces to get rid of Rod Stewart. His story ends with a crazy murder suicide that capped a career of eerie tunes and an obsession with the occult (he’d set up tape recorders at graveyards to ‘speak with the dead’).
Produced by Meek, “Sunday Date” by the Flee-Rekkers is one I’ve wanted for a while and just recently acquired. It’s distinctly Meek, sounding like a slowed down surf instrumental, melancholy and kind of pleasantly haunting.
(J-Zone is back! Last time, he touched on his favorite 45s for a pre-45 Sessions blowout; this time, he zeroes in on his all-time choice breaks. His new release, Lunch Breaks, a sample-palette of live drums performed entirely by Jay himself launched last week, primed for drum-less MPCs everywhere. We’re always stoked to have Jay swing through these parts.- DM)
Every hip-hop producer has their favorite drum breaks – until they start playing drums! I had this epiphany two years ago, when I picked up a pair of sticks and set out to learn a new instrument at the tender age of 34 and three quarters. When discovering the wide range of sounds a kit can make and the wide range of playing styles a drummer can use, you begin to hear breaks differently.
You also begin to realize how difficult some of these classics were to play. Nowadays, it’s no longer about which breaks are easiest to chop up, toss into the MPC and boom bap with, but which ones I like to emulate when I practice and mimic the recording of when I’m making my own breaks. So I’ve decided to mix it up and include both: a few choices from a production angle and a few from a (still learning to be a) drummer angle.
In celebration of the release of my ‘Lunch Breaks’ live drum package out now at The Drum Broker, I present my ten favorite drum breaks of all time.
10. Led Zepplin – “The Crunge”
Drummer: John Bonham
Ask anyone putting on a show in the drum section of a Guitar Center who they’d like to be for a day and the answer is probably John Bonham. The freakish Led Zepplin drummer has more Stans than any drummer in history, and although I have different heroes, I’d never front on Bonzo’s brilliance on the set. For fuck’s sake, the dude plays this groove in 9/8 with the pocket of a James Brown jam. And it was the driving force behind “The Magic Number.”
9. B.T. Express – “Energy Level”
Drummer: Leslie Ming
Although rap hasn’t been this fast in years, I’m shocked at how little this joint has been sampled (or if it’s been sampled at all). Leslie Ming is one of my favorite drummers. A session musician in New York throughout the ‘80s, Ming got his start with disco-funk outfit, B.T. Express, where he lit up the band’s Energy to Burn LP with rat-ta-tat-tat drumming from front to back. Accented, machine gun hi-hat marksmanship, syncopated kick-snare patterns and pure pocket make this a gem for b-boy circles and a dance floor smoker for those with soul.
8. Lonnie Smith – “Spinning Wheel”
Drummer: Joe Dukes
When Q-Tip de-virginized this record for sampling in 1990 for Tribe’s “Can I kick It?” he only scratched the surface. Organ trio jazz drummer, Joe Dukes, goes for his multiple times in the song, playing with grooves and giving producers a buffet of rudiments, licks and hits to fool with. One of the very first drum breaks I cut my sample chopping teeth to, there wasn’t one part I didn’t try to flip while learning to hook up drums. The classic Van Gelder Studios sound brings “Spinning Wheel” to life; it’s even more of a pleasure to listen to as an aspiring drummer.
7. Simtec & Wylie – “Socking Soul Power”
Those toms! The toms often play second fiddle in funk drumming and are tuned arbitrarily. But the way the drum set was miked, tuned and recorded gives the toms a bruising thump that nearly distorts the entire mix. This is just a raw, demo-like drum recording reminiscent of the great drum recordings of Chess Records.
6. Lee Moses – “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”
Sometimes it’s all about feel. I’m not sure who the drummer was on this twisted, mind-melting cover of the Motown classic, but it’s just the right mixture of a slightly ahead pocket, fills, jazz tuning and gritty recording gear that bring the song to life. The simple single stroke rolls on the toms for the breakdowns late in the song are gold. The feel and sound are insane enough on their own; the song doesn’t call for any fancy playing.
Danny Brown & Black Milk : “Zap”
Admittedly I wasn’t hugely into Black Milk’s catalogue but part of it, I came to realize, is how prolific dude’s been in the last few years. I spoke with him for the recent Wax Poetics and thought it was endearing that, to him, he finally “made it” when his parents came to one of his shows.
“My moms and pops were there! It was the first time after all these years that they saw me live. I knew right then and there this is what I’m meant for,” he said. While researching his work I re-listened to his Danny Brown collab, Black & Brown. As it now stands (and I consider myself a fan of Danny’s work) this album with Milk might be the only one where Brown’s abrassiveness doesn’t wear thin– don’t get me wrong, this Danny joint is still one of my favorite semi-recent rap songs. Peep the new Wax Po piece and here’s my favorite joint from the two; it thumps when the drums finally set in, and is such a hard, flashy moment in their young careers.
It cannot be overstated how much influence and just overall pleasure we’ve gotten from O-Dub’s site, the venerable Soul-Sides. From the blog’s consistency to its superb song picks, it’s nothing short of, I think, one of the best blogs ever published. So we were certainly geeked when selected tracks from the site were pressed onto vinyl– Soul Sides Vol.1 and Vol.2, respectively.
Through the years, O-Dub has dropped by Nerdtorious and I’ve had the honor of adding to Soul-Sides. This year, however, marks Soul-Sides’ 10th anniversary! To celebrate (and as a goodwill token) Volume 3 was released for download. Though it’s a bummer we won’t see it on wax, these songs, in short, are completely quality driven-as is Soul-Sides has been for a quick decade. Here’s to another 10 years – DM
Doris & Kelley’s “You Don’t Have To Worry” was my favorite “new (to me)” song of 2013. Granted, it was released in 1967 to little or no acclaim but it flipped my wig this year when at a DJ gig in Bernal Heights with DJ Ferrari aka Forty Fivan. He played it, I ran to the speaker.
Ferrari said that night: “This ain’t hard to come by, but it ain’t cheap.” By far the most moving and impactful song I’ve been lucky enough to hear in 2013. Vocals are killer right out the gate and the arrangement doesn’t drag. I couldn’t find much on Doris or Kelley so please hit us with any info if you’ve got it! For now, enjoy the slow, sultry burner.
Glad to finally have this in my modest crates and glad to add the “audio” aspect back to the site, which, after all, is an “audioblog” first and foremost. More audio to come!
Filed under: Tunes
This is the best mixtape I’ve heard in a long time. So This is De La Heaven 2 is the long-awaited sequel to DJ Platurn’s excellent De La tribute mix from 2003. The long gestation process has been fruitful, as the accumulated effort is apparent in the impeccable song selection, blending, pacing, and tasteful yet apparent ‘dj hand’ audible throughout. Though this is not just a straightforward exercise in playing originals into the tack that sampled them, some of the strongest segments consist of the unique ways that he re-contextualizes each track by comparing them with their source. The ‘Hey Love’ segment is a master class in utilizing turntable techniques to bring new context to beloved and intensely familiar tracks.
De La played a major role in expanding the sonic palette of sample-able material throughout their career, and Platurn is unafraid to get a little weird here, as you will notice when you get caught at a red light really enjoying bumping a Walter Wanderly instrumental. Props are due to Platurn for focusing on semi-deep catalog material like ‘The Patti Dooke.’ It’s a treat for the De La obsessives among us. Also incredible is the long section dissecting and interacting with the ‘Buddy Native Tongues Remix’. There are so many references both musical and verbal in that song that there may have been an entire mixtapes’ worth of material just in that song. How many dudes that you know could get an actual member of De La to drop an intro to their tribute mix? Platurn is that dude, and this mix is absolutely top-notch. Get it. – Nate LeBlanc
* To read more on the mix and order, please go HERE.