Category Archive: oldskool
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My first post here in 2011 is a continuation of something I started late last year, which is a list of breakbeats commonly used in classic techno songs. Sorry for the delay, between the holidays and working on some music, this was the first opening I had to finish this. Hope the wait was worth it!
These last four breaks may not have been used as much as the first seven that were documented in part 1 and part 2, however they each deserve recognition in that they were used in several songs that were in heavy rotation during the golden era of oldskool techno. They are also all very distinguishable breaks; easy to spot once heard.
All girl 80s dance/R&B band Klymaxx brings us this funky break from their tune Good Love:
This loop was also used in a remix of Kariya – Let Me Love You For Tonight, but Klymaxx predates the Kariya track and so this is very likely the original source. This break is very distinctive and was featured in one of the most well-known techno classics of all time… Bombscare by 2 Bad Mice:
You can also hear this beat in DJ Phantasy and DJ Gemini – Never Try the Hippodrome:
As well as is in this rare, well sought white label by Schedule 3:
This version of Apache is actually a cover recorded by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band, released in 1974 without much acclaim. In terms of hip hop and drum & bass, this epic break ranks up there with the Amen, the Funky Drummer and the Think break. I cannot mention this break without featuring this historic clip of Grandmaster Flash cutting up Apache on the wheels of steel:
Like many popular hip hop breaks, it also found its way into several popular techno and acid house songs. It is very easy to recognize due to the powerful reverbed congas. Here it is in The Break Boys (aka Frankie Bones and Tommy Musto) – And the Break Goes On:
As well as Panic – Voices Of Energy:
Listen to the little breakdown at (:57) of Todd Terry’s Just Wanna Dance. There is the Apache in all its glory.
This drumbreak is a hybrid creation of two other well-known breaks, with some additional flair such as a booming sub-bass and was featured in the song Run’s House off RUN DMC’s Tougher Than Leather album:
The two breaks in question include James’ Brown’s Funky Drummer, which rivals the Amen break in terms of overall usage in hip hop, drum & bass and techno tunes:
The second break is from the song Ashley’s Roach Clip by funk group Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers:
Ashley’s Roach Clip is yet another very recognizable and well known loop that has been used in countless hip hop and even mainstream songs, probably most famously in Eric B. and Rakim’s Paid In Full.
The Criminal Minds used the Run’s House break in the 1992 ragga techno hit Baptised By Dub:
It is also featured in Urban Shakedown’s Some Justice:
And again in Naz AKA Naz’s dark proto-jungle work Organized Crime:
Last but not least, there is this funky little break from the Isley Brother’s Get Into Something:
The break is somewhat similar to the Think breaks with the background voices, tambourine and snappy snares. We hear it on one of the very big tunes of the day, 4 Hero’s Mr. Kirk:
It can also be found on Nation 12’s Electrofear(unfortunately, no YouTube clip of this version of the song is available).
The breakbeat is, and continues to be, a powerful weapon in the arsenal of dance music producers worldwide. While these samples have powered the energy behind many hip hop, drum & bass and techno tracks, it is also important to recognize and acknowledge the incredible drummers who were the original sources of these loops. I believe it is also interesting and worthwhile to listen to these loops in the context of their original songs. There is a wonderful history that flows from these rhythmic interludes. Thanks for allowing me to share at least a little bit of this history with you. I also hope that this will broaden people’s musical tastes into some wonderful work that, while clearly stylistic departures from the tunes which sampled them, are incredible gems that deserve to be enjoyed in their original glory.
Before we dig deeper into the breakbeat vaults, first… a quick correction on Part 1. The break used in Isotonik – Different Strokes, Bass Construction – Dance With Power, Blow – Cutter (Acid Mix), Rabbit City #1 – Cutter Mix and Smart Systems’ The Tingler (State Side Swamp Mix), actually comes from a breakbeat loop record released by Warrior Records. Warrior released a series of loop compilations beginning in 1989, credited to The Original Unknown DJ’s. The break in question can be found on their 1991 Warrior Sampler E.P. I believe it is a modified Think break, but this Warrior Records series appears to be the source of this particular loop. You can hear it much more clearly in Quadrophonia’s The Man With the Master Plan:
Continuing on with our exploration of breaks used in classic techno tracks, here are four beats which were also featured frequently during the oldskool heyday between 1990 and 1992.
Let It Go (Part II) is a song by disco funk legends KC and the Sunshine Band. Their second, self-titled studio album, which is known for classic hits That’s The Way (I Like It), Get Down Tonight and Boogie Shoes closes out with Let It Go (Part II):
You can hear this break in the song Lock Up by Zero B:
The Beginning of the End is a band consisting of three brothers and a bassist hailing from Nassau, Bahamas. The 1971 track Funky Nassau (Part I) became a hit in the U.S. reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and #7 on the Billboard Black Singles Chart. The tune also hit #31 on the UK Singles Chart in 1974. This particular break is literally a funk monstrosity which is easily spotted due to the clanging ride cymbals and booming kick drum.
DJ Mink’s Hey! Hey! Can You Relate? uses the the Let It Go break along with the Funky Nassau, as heard here:
This powerful break, which is pitched up for techno tempos, comes to us courtesy of soul icon Barry White from his 1973 single, I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby. The song is a great exemplification of Mr. White’s smooth vocal stylings. Amazing to think that such a rough break evolved from this mellow and shall we say “intimate” work.
Check out the I’m Gonna Love You Break as used by Rhythm Section in the 1992 classic Comin’ On Strong:
This break may be a bit more controversial. I did quite a bit of research and it appears as if Moby is the creator of this particular beat. If anyone can verify or correct this, it would be greatly appreciated. For now, it appears as if Moby, himself an immensely important member of the techno pantheon, deserves credit for crafting this incredible beat. Here it is in Moby’s Go!:
Moby and Jam & Spoon collaborated and remixed each other’s work, which may explain the use of the Go! break in Jam & Spoon’s immortal masterpiece Stella:
A more innovative use of the Go! break is exemplified here by Acen, who cut it up to great effect in their massive hit Close Your Eyes:
There are several more influential break loops put to dynamic effect during the oldskool era that we will look at in Part 3 to close out this discussion.
The mighty breakbeat. That funky, syncopated rhythm which is the backbone of so many dance-oriented tunes; culled from dusty crates of old funk and soul records where the drummer is given a moment to shine in a drum solo, a song intro or a rhythmic bridge. These moments of funk bliss were intitally looped by hand on the turntables of the early hip hop DJs. Once samplers became available, finding these breaks, sampling, looping and cutting them up became an art form all unto itself.
The use of breakbeats in hip hop music and drum & bass has been well documented and it is relatively easy to find lists breaking down which breaks were used on which songs on the web. When it comes to finding such lists for oldskool techno, it’s a bit more challenging. This list is an attempt to document several of the more common breaks used in techno. Many of these breaks are breaks also frequently used in hip hop, although typically pitched up or played at a faster tempo. I’ve always found it fascinating to hear the original songs, some of which are so different from the pieces in which their drumbreaks are sampled. The following list indexes the original source of a break and several of the techno tunes which used it.
This can easily be called the granddaddy of all breaks. The genre of drum & bass, and its pre-cursor Jungle, owes heavily to this beat and there are literally thousands of tunes which feature this break in some form. This breakbeat plays such an important role in the evolution of electronic dance music, a gentleman named Nate Harrison recorded an entire video devoted to the history of this breakbeat which you can watch here. I am sure many people who are even passingly familiar with electronic music have seen this video, but if not, it is highly recommended viewing. The original source of this break is from a 1969 B-Side by The Winstons called Amen, Brother.
One of the earliest uses of this break in the dance music arena was Success-N-Effect’s Roll It Up:
Roll It Up was caned by Carl Cox in the well-known tune I Want You (Forever):
Other tracks featurning the Amen Break include: First Prodgect – Right Before, Atomic Brain – Atomic Brain, Skin Up – A Juicy Red Apple, 2 For Joy – Let The Bass Kick and Sys’tem X – Wind It Up (Bumpy Mix) (No YouTube Clip Available).
The Think Break
Think (About It) by Lyn Collins is a treasure trove of breakbeat goodness. This 1972 funk song was produced by James Brown and featured his backing band The J.B.’s. Probably the most well-known use of a Think loop is in the popular 1988 hip hop track It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. There are actually 5 separate sections of the record where breaks have been sampled from:
Here is the entire song, for context:
One of the earliest variations of a think break is on the acid house track Hip This House by Shadows J (and their particular edit of this loop was further used by DJ Splix in Nasty Rhythm and Rhythm Section in Perfect Love (2 AM):
Here is another techno classic using one of the Think loops, Da Juice – C’mon C’mon (Mental Bass Mix):
All of the various Think loops have been pitched up and down, cut and otherwise manipulated to the point of being barely recognizable. For example, Isotonik’s Different Strokes, in which the Think break is somewhat difficult to spot due to the layering of other drum hits:
Finally, here’s a list of other classic techno tunes, all using some variation of one of the Think breaks: Greed – Give Me (Quadrant Mix), Bass Construction – Dance With Power, E-Lustrious – Ragga Tip, Petra & Co – Just Let Go, Blow – Cutter (Acid Mix), Rabbit City #1 – Cutter Mix, The Gonzo – Lost and Smart Systems – The Tingler (State Side Swamp Mix)
Bobby Byrd is a funk and gospel artist and is credited with “discovering” James Brown. An instrumental dub of the track Hot Pants is the source of the final break we will be looking at in this episode:
This beat was actually featured in the song Fool’s Gold by alternative britpop band The Stone Roses; their drummer Alan “Reni” Wren played live with the Hot Pants loop in the background, as heard here:
This particular version of the break, with the live over-dubbed drummer, was actually lifted and used by The Ya Yas on their 1991 techno track Looove (Quadromania Mix):
However, there are a number of songs that feature the original raw Hot Pants break, most notably The Prodigy’s Charly:
You can also hear a heavily reverb-drenched version of this break in Meat Beat Manifesto’s Radio Babylon, which itself became a heavily sampled tune:
Other tunes featuring the Hot Pants Break include: Addis Posse – Let The Warrior’s Dance, Nebula II – Seance, Lab Technicians – Sweet Perfection, Bizarre Inc. – Plutonic and The Future Sound of London — Papua New Guinea.
These three songs, in and of themselves, form the basis for countless techno tunes. In Part 2, we will examine several other important breakbeats which provided the rhythmic glue for many other oldskool techno classics.
Been working on a new project, which is the website oldskooltechno.com. The site will feature a blog, forum and wiki devoted completely to all things oldskool. The wiki is a pretty ambitious undertaking; I’m hoping to index oldskool tunes with corresponding video and sound clips to try and create a comprehensive, listenable, searchable catalog of tunes. I’m hoping to recruit other collectors of the music to assist me in entering tracks. So if you’re interested, please drop me a line.
Last week I posted about a great site devoted to oldskool techno. There are quite a few blogs, forums, youtube channels, etc, devoted to this music and the scene that emerged around it. For me, even though I stopped gigging live for the most part as I have become focused on other aspects of my life, I have continued to research and discover elements of this music. Thank you Discogs!
What is it about this music that has created such a committed and loyal following? Looking back through the prism of maturity (and I mean that in a variety of ways, including artistically) after all these years, there is plenty of criticism one can direct toward this music. I mean, the production values on many of these records was not very good, the music often simple or formulaic, many records clone samples, beats and riffs off one another and let’s face it, some of those sounds are just in your face and obnoxious. And you know what? It is every one of those things and more that keeps this music endearing to us. Of course, there is the sentimentality of a magic time in our youth. A time spent with friends, putting the struggles and troubles of the day away for an evening of dancing, hearing new sounds, and meeting new people… Ok, now I am just rambling.
In any event, here is a mix I did a few years back that I think encapsulates a wide variety of oldskool techno. Everything from Belgian techno to some harder edged acid, and particularly a lot of the pre-jungle UK breakbeat that I was so fond of when I first started buying these records back in 1992. Tracklisting included below.
Stream: OldSkool Vinyl ThrowDown
Download: OldSkool Vinyl ThrowDown
01. Genaside II – Narra Mine
02. Is That It? – State of Mind
03. Rocket – Straight Up
04. Rabbit City #3
05. Pied Piper – Dreamers
06. HHFD – Start the Panic
07. Cybersonik – Technarcy
08. Tribal Instincts EP – Rock Da House
09. Venom – I Need Your Love
10. Tribal Instincts EP – Coming On Strong
11. Criminal Minds – Baptized By Dub
12. Phuture Assassins – Future Sound
13. Progression – On a Rubbish Tip
14. Krome & Time – This Sound is for the Underground
15. 4 Hero – In the Shadow (Sunrise Remix)
16. 32 Troop – Papa Malaysia
17. Illuminatae – Dreamer
18. The Hypnotist – This is my House
19. Mr. Kool-Aid & Marco – 2001: A Soda Pop Odyssey
20. D.H.S. – The House of God (Pump Panel Remix)
21. Drax – Amphetamine
22. DJ Tim & Ortega – Heartbreak
23. Edge #9 – File 57
24. Flag – Dominate
25. E.Kude – Common Sensi
26. Sound Corp – Security Overload
27. Kickin Six Pack LP 5
28. Caspar Pound – Pioneers of the Warped Groove (Way Out West Remix)
29. Hyper On Experience – Lords of the Null Lines (Foul Play Remix)
30. N-Joi – Drumstruck
31. Blame – Music Takes You (2 Bad Mice Remix)
32. Urban Shakedown – Some Justice
Blog to the Oldskool is dedicated to raising awareness of many classic and even obscure old school techno gems from back in the day. This is the music that I first started DJing with and it will always hold a sentimental nostalgia for me. It’s hard to believe that some of these tracks are almost 20 years old already!