The word “Dubstep” was first used in print in 2002 to describe Horsepower Productions’ new style of 2-step garage.
It’s reputed to have been used by DJ Hatcha at the famous Big Apple record shop in Croydon, but either way, there’s no getting away from how important Benny Ill & the rest of the group have been in the mutation of dark 2-step into dubstep. It’s easy to hear the 2-step influence here in the bass and drums, but it’s also clear to hear the dubby vibes that originally gave dubstep its title.
Like lots of the music from that time, it’s quite unique. It’s heavily sample based, and atmospheric in a way that belies the Croydon roots of the sound.
Although the song is very much a bass driven one, it presents a nice listening experience too, with a rich selection of vaguely tropical sounds adorning the central rhythmic pulse.
The album In Fine Style, from which this song is taken, was released in 2002 on the seminal dubstep label Tempa, which until slightly after that point had essentially just been releasing the songs on the album as singles anyway!
Yngwie Malmsteen is hardly the only guitarist to use incredibly fast shredding techniques to play supersonic solos and racing riffs.
But he’s easily one of the best. His brand of lightning quick neo-classical metal (metal incorporating ideas and techniques from classical guitar) is very 80s, but very cool. He’s been rated by Time magazine as being the 9th best guitar player of all time.
One of the reasons that he is maybe more obscure is because a lot of his songs are so intensely fast. But there are plenty of tracks that, although admittedly pacey, are very much catchy metal tunes.
“Rising Force” is a blur of shredding and soloing. However, Malmsteen has crafted a particularly accessible head banger with this. His vocals are surprising good, and the melodies are classic. The song is rhythmically quite complex, as you might expect from a classically influenced guitarist.
Where the song really gets awesome is the guitar solos. He runs up and down arpeggios and scales at truly astounding speeds, which isn’t the most expressive style of soloing, it’s true, but it’s awesome to listen to!
“Rising Force” was released in 1988 on the album Odyssey, which is slightly confusing because he released an album called Rising Force in 1984.
This song almost didn’t get made. The tragic reason for this is that Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash less than a month after the song was recorded.
In fact, the plane crash was December 10th 1967, and the last session Redding got a chance to record for this song was December 7th. He had actually planned to go back and finish the song.
The producer, Steve Cropper, had to finish the song after Otis’ death.
The song is melancholic in a particular despondent way. It’s about a guy just sitting there watching the boats out of boredom, to get away from it all. So the feeling is like a guy kicking a stone or something like that.
The music itself is in that vein. It isn’t sullen, but it isn’t a triumphant song either. The vocals are great, and really convey the emotion of the lyrics. The rest of the song is simple, but that’s good. It means that nothing is taken away from Otis’ performance. The melodies really follow him, from the horns, the guitar, and the bass.
The song was released posthumously in 1968 on an album of the same name, and became a #1 hit. It also won two Grammies.
Presumably there are people who could listen to “Ruins” and not enjoy it. Perhaps Jazz snobs who feel it is too watered down. Maybe the sort of people who keep Justin Bieber in the charts. But I do feel that on the whole, it’s a sublimely brilliant song, and most people would enjoy it.
The star of the show is the beautiful saxophone, which plays an ethereal melody which practically glistens, such is its lustrous timbre. The bass is warm and reassuring, probably more prominent than a more traditional jazz song as well.
The group incorporate a lot of electronic effects, which is something that they used more of after their hang player left. It’s a shame, because although you can still hear the hang (which is the sort of steel drum you can see in the video), it’s a very expressive instrument that is worthy of it’s own solo, even to the point where a song composed of just a hang can be entrancing.
Sometimes when jazz groups attempt to be more contemporary, some of the swing and soul can be lost. But here, the balance is struck right, and the cacophony of reverb and other effects add to the atmospheric feeling of the song.
The song is from the band’s eponymous 2012 album, which received a slew of positive reviews from critics. Rightly so!
The Beastie Boys were legends. Their brand of easy going, rebellious humour driven hip-hop was decades ahead of its time, and more than that, they did it at a time where white people doing hip hop even slightly convincingly was unheard of.
Part of the reason they were able to get away with that is that they were not trying to be N.W.A.
Coming from a hardcore NY punk background, the original sound of the Beastie Boys was in fact rock music. They then moved into hip hop.
“Fight For Your Right” is an anthem, and still essentially a rock anthem. However, at that point, the Beastie Boys were doing hip hop; the song actually has its roots, like so much of their other stuff, in a joke. They were making fun of a certain type of mid 80s rock that emphasised the “bad ass” aesthetic when it was really nothing of the sort. The band stopped playing the song live because it really wasn’t their style, and they were embarrassed.
Regardless of how serious it was meant to be, it’s undeniably a classic song. More than that, it works very well as a “party” song, just the sort of thing it was meant to parody. The chorus in particular lends itself very well to drunken singalongs. The guitar riffs are simple but effective, with a natural jam to the rhythm section that keeps the whole thing brimming to the top with youthful energy.
The song is from Licensed To Ill, the group’s 1986 debut album, and has since appeared in a plethora of lists such as “the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Although America saw riots over race relations a couple of years ago, and have elected a President in large part because of his xenophobic ramblings and white supremacist apologist campaign, things weren’t always so rosy.
It wasn’t until 1964 that segregation was made illegal, and when MLK was killed in ’68 there were huge riots.
Curtis, the album this was taken from, was released in 1970, so only a few of years after these events.
He lists a few groups, such as whites, blacks and Jews (not the words he uses…) and emphasises the essentially unity of the human race by our collective damnation. At least that’s what it sounds like!
The song is equal parts funky, orchestral, dramatic and prophetic. It’s a political song, but with obvious overtones of religious warning.
The song’s rhythm is a syncopated riot, with a rolling, slow drum part overlaided with a conga/bongo section. The bass is prominent, and more interesting for the fact that it is played with some distortion for a delicious, warm fuzzy sound. It feels rather psychedelic, especially as Mayfield’s vocals tend to drift over the top rather than being the main focus.
There’s a nice string and horns section too, which adds to the gravity of the whole thing.
it might not have a great deal of urgency, but it remains a powerful statement on race relations.
Jimi Hendrix is one of history’s greatest musicians, there’s no doubt about that.
His skill with the guitar, especially his innovative techniques, has cemented his place in the Rock n Roll pantheon.
His songwriting and singing was pretty good as well, meaning that many of his songs has attained iconic status, as indeed has the man himself.
Although the song was inspired by a line literally about a fireplace and a dog (“Move over Rover let Jimi take over”), the song has some slightly more risque overtones, although in fairness it never quite spills over into smuttiness.
The song kicks off, and in my opinion is sustained, by some pretty wicked drumming. Mitch Mitchell is a great drummer, for sure! It’s fast and funky, almost a continuous roll of snares and hihats.
The bass stops and starts, before letting loose in the choruses. It adds up to a smashing rhythm section.
The guitar riffs follow the bass for the most part, with a pleasant fuzz to them. But when Hendrix unleashes his solos, the guitar soars.
The song was on the 1967 album Are You Experienced, and has become one of Hendrix’s most popular songs.
The Lijadu sisters make good times music. It’s sunny, everyone is feeling good, and life is great!
The actual sound, close as it is to being sonic sunshine, fuses Afro-beat and traditional Nigerian sounds with western styles such as disco and funk, even to the extent that they sing in both English and Yoruba.
“Come On Home” is a cheerful song, with a limber bassline driving the piece forward, and some carefree piano riffs decorating the soundscape like sea shells on a lush beach.
The singing is of course tremendously soulful, with a special sort of harmoniousness that is easily explained by the fact that the duo are identical twins.
It’s quite a slow song, with a chilled out, contented nature.
The song is from the 1979 album Horizon Unlimited. The two stopped making music in the 80s, but recently came out of retirement to perform a William Onyeabor tribute show.
The Shape Of Jazz To Come is a pretty good name for Ornette Coleman’s 1959 album. Although it’s not nearly as whacky and noisy as some later free jazz, it helped lay the foundations for a whole range of abrasive and crazy sounds.
Free Jazz is so named because it does away with some musical conventions, like “chords” and “structure”. This can understandably make for some challenging listening at times.
Ornette Coleman was normally not as extreme as this, and “Peace” is quite easy to listen to.
The song is played by a jazz quartet of double bass, drums, saxophone (Coleman’s instrument, made of plastic) and the trumpet. There’s a lot of improvisation, but it doesn’t feel as though the players are all playing different songs, like some later avant garde jazz…
Instead, it’s relatively peaceful, as the name would suggest, with a very slow pace. The song at points becomes almost minimal in the way it leave gaps between notes. Sometimes jazz musicians seem to be cramming all the notes they physically can into songs, so this is nice.
The album is critically acclaimed now, but at the time proved controversial. Miles Davis was one of the people who wasn’t a fan; he later pushed avante garde jazz very far.
Drum & Bass today exists in a myriad of styles, which range from the aggressive screeches of Jump Up to the chilled out sound of Liquid.
But although Jungle still exists today, there really is no school like the old school. The basslines were deeper and slower, samples were used with gleeful abandon, and the drums were nearly all composed of chopped up and frantically reassembled breakbeats.
The resulting feel is more organic feeling than much of today’s stuff, and although it can be obvious that the equipment and techniques of the time were significantly less sophisticated, the sounds produced still sound futuristic.
“Burial” is something of a classic. Produced by Leviticus (aka Jumping Jack Frost), it features the “Think About It” break from Lyn Collins in 1972 as the driving force behind the drums.
The female vocals are from Jill Francis’s ’93 R’n’B tune “Make Love To Me”, and the Ragga vocals are from the same year on “My Sound A Murder” by Jigsy King and Tony Curtis.
The lighthearted “Doo doo!” vocals are from 1978, a funk number called “Foxy” by Mademoiselle.
It might sound like he’s just ripped off a load of people, but it’s like hip hip; the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Dillinja was the studio engineer incidentally; no wonder it’s such a banger…
“Burial” was released in 1994, but this would still tear up a dance floor today!