In the late 90’s it seemed like we got deluged with a bunch of dance and hip-hop records all built around one big sample – I always hated them because as much as I really admire a clever piece of sampling it all just got a bit lazy; there’s a sharp distinction between sampling creatively, Paul’s Boutique or The Avalanches say, and being a lazy ass who was just cashing in on someone else’s hard graft – I’m calling you out Warren G!
Now who fancies a dancey bit of drum and bass based on my favourite few seconds of Van Halen’s back catalogue? Let’s go back to the rock …
I really liked Apollo 440 Ain’t Talkin’ About Dub when it came out in 1997. It was a pretty genius idea to underpin that riff with a skittering, scattering drum and bass percussion because it really worked, this was no novelty flavour it really sounded like it had been composed together as a whole. Add in some dialogue from 1537-fave-sci-fi-rave The Andromeda Strain, an ambient interlude and a bit of fake Jamaican style toasting from Mark Byker* and you have a very worthwhile confection indeed. Overall I think it’s just a clever bit of pop, even if the video is a bit baffling. The three remix B-sides? don’t ask.
Apollo 440 get 1537 bonus points for damned cool by featuring a pic of Jimi Hendrix laughing as liberal politician Jeremy Thorpe fondles his rather groovily painted Flying-V, backstage at a ‘Liberal International Anti-Racialist Appeal Fund’ at the Royal Festival Hall on 25 September 1967^. You get bonus points for knowing that Thorpe was sadly disgraced later for alleged homosexual acts when they were illegal in Britain, oh and conspiracy to murder^^. My promotional double 12″ version has a better cover than the normal single release which was marred by writing.
On a similar tip** is Krupa also by Apollo 440, also from their rather good LP Electro Glide In Blue. This time we get a 10″ record with a shot of Frank Sinatra shooting up from The Man With The Golden Arm and the only line of dialogue in the track is ‘Now back to the Gene Krupa syncopated style’, which was taken from Taxi Driver*^. It’s a tribute to the great Gene Krupa, drum teacher to Peter Criss and Jerry Nolan as well as game-changing drum-enius^*. Not that it features a note of Krupa playing, the main sample was very cleverly stolen from Sweet ‘Ballroom Blitz’. Personally I don’t think the track works half as well on its own as it does with the rather excellent video below, where the music becomes a current of life:
So there you have it, one good record with a very average video and a very average track with an excellent one. These Liverpool lads have given me a chance to mention Hendrix, Krupa, Van Halen, Sinatra, Jeremy Thorpe, Peter Criss, The Andromeda Strain, Jerry Nolan, The Sweet, allude to Electra Glide In Blue, Paco Peña, Taxi Driver, Gaye Bykers On Acid and The Man With Golden Arm – Hell, Virgil aside, that’s almost the whole of all human culture up until 1997! Not too shabby for 34″ of vinyl.
*really a man called Ian who was lead singer of Gaye Bykers On Acid, who are only of minor interest to me but released one of the coolest LPs ever in 1987 called Drill Your Own Hole – which on vinyl came, you guessed it, without any hole in the middle so you had to drill your own to actually listen to the thing! I think the entire band should have been knighted on the spot for that one. True story.
**dig my hepcat dance lingo.
^also featuring Best Jansch and Paco Peña.
^^for which he was acquitted.
*^its been too many years since I saw it to remember where from in the film.
^*see what I did there? it’s copyrighted, so hands off!