(Lots of YouTube video links contained—you have been warned!)
My recent break was really good for one reason in particular: my love for music that had taken a leave of absence came back with a vengeance. Writing had consumed me so much that my brain didn’t seem to have the capacity to appreciate music as greatly anymore. It’s my mission to ensure that neither of my life’s biggest loves get pushed aside in favour of the other again. Without one of writing and music I am incomplete.
So, today, I incorporate the two again as I take a look at a side of music that gets me very metaphorically hard. Since I was about sixteen, when I really got into house music, I realised that the genre was laden with samples of tracks from a bygone era. My favourite track for a long time was ‘Happy Days’ by PJ which was, in essence, a house music remake of the track of the same name by North End. My obsession with where producers took their inspiration from started here.
I was unable to listen to a track without discovering what it had sampled. The internet was my best friend in this regard. To the day I hunt down the original record that tracks of more modern times have sampled or, in many cases, simply remade. It’s directly because of this that I have become such a massive fan of genres such as soul, funk, disco, jazz-fusion, motown, and so on.
House music was created as a continuation of disco music after puritan radio DJ’s tried to abolish the genre in the late 70’s and effectively forced it underground. Frankie Knuckles was the pioneer behind the reinvention and rebrand. He literally redesigned disco to create house music which quickly became a genre in its own right. Disco was the predecessor of house. House was the predecessor of all genres of dance music today and even a lot of modern pop.
Knowing all this, there was no way I couldn’t delve into the history. My love for heavy-sampling house producers such as Full Intention, Paul Johnson, DJ Sneak, etc., was the catalyst that now has me calling myself a fan of the likes of Roy Ayers, Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Chic, Sister Sledge, and so many more acts from back in the day. I can’t simply listen to a track anymore. I have to know the reason behind its creation and I can virtually always tell if one track samples something else.
Following are five tracks that have been sampled or remade. Immediately after each one is the track (or tracks) that sampled them. Enjoy.
Original: The Salsoul Orchestra Feat. Jocelyn Brown – ‘Take Some Time Out (For Love)’ (1982)
Remake: Cleptomaniacs – ‘Time Out For Love’ (2000)
Dave Angel – ‘Funk Music (DJ Tonka Remix)’ (1997)
Original: Bob Dylan – ‘All Along The Watchtower’ (1968)
Remake: Jimi Hendrix – ‘All Along The Watchtower’ (1968)
Original: Isaac Hayes – ‘I Can’t Turn Around’ (1975)
Sample: Paul Johnson – ‘My Love Is Strong’ (1999)
Sample and semi-remake: Farley “Jackmaster” Funk & Jesse Saunders Feat. Darryl Pandy – ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ (1986)
Original: Sylvia Striplin – ‘Give Me Your Love’ (1980)
Sample: Armand Van Helden Feat. Common – ‘Full Moon’ (2000)
Remake: Full Intention Presents Deep Down – ‘Give Me Your Love’ (1999)
Original: Isley Brothers – ‘Footsteps In The Dark’ (1978)
Sample: Ice Cube – ‘It Was A Good Day’ (1992)
Some of those are absolute favourites of mine, but, as you can see from the Bob Dylan track, remaking and sampling has been going on for a long time. When it’s done properly, a producer can really do the original track justice. Sometimes, again using Bob Dylan as an example, an artist or producer can take the original and make it ten times better!
Some other good examples for me personally:
- ‘Set Adrift On Memory Bliss’ by PM Dawn which heavily samples ‘True’ by Spandau Ballet;
- Jay Rock’s ‘Hood Gone Love It’ is built around the intro of ‘Easy Days’ by Pointer Sisters (and is, incidentally, miles better);
- The melody of Michael Jackson’s incredible song, ‘Human Nature’, was used as the base of the popular Human Nature mix of ‘Right Here’ by SWV;
- I have always favoured the Will To Power version of ‘Baby I Love Your Way’ than the Peter Frampton original;
- The iconic piano sample in Sterling Void’s ‘Don’t Wanna Go’ has been used to great effect in a number of different tracks, including ‘Too Much’ by Dune, the A side of ‘Ravers Choice Volume 1’ by DJ Vibes & Wishdokta, ‘You Sexy Dancer’ by Rockford Files and a host more;
- Last but not least, ‘Hey Lover’ by LL Cool J & Boyz II Men sampled Michael Jackson’s ‘Lady In My Life’ (incidentally, so did the B side of DJ Vibes & Wishdokta’s ‘Ravers Choice Volume 1’.
Music samples other music so frequently nowadays that it leaves one wondering if original compositions even exist anymore! I don’t mind that. All I care about is that the music I hear is good. It can sample whatever it likes. ‘Same Old Show’ by Basement Jaxx samples about four different tracks throughout and the result is a fantastic and admittedly weird sounding track. There is nothing wrong with sampling.
There’s nothing wrong with remakes either. Some are dire. TV commercials are absolutely riddled with acoustic or piano remakes of great songs sung by somebody (male or female) with a whiny, sad voice. The Scooter remake of Supertramp’s amazing ‘Logical Song’ is bad enough to give a normal person brain damage (luckily, the link is the original Supertramp version so don’t be afraid to click it). However, you then have tracks like Byron Stingily’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ which tops the original Sylvester version. Sometimes you can hit pure gold with a remake.
I think, regardless of what was remade or sampled, the original should always be given respect. I’d wager there are few out there ready enough to look to the past and see where modern favourites got their cue from. I’m glad I’m not of that number. My affinity for looking back at what gave birth to my favourite music has opened up a whole universe of new (old) stuff and made me not only appreciative, but a fan of genres I previously never really cared much about.
If you’re interested in discovering samples yourself then I suggest the website whosampled.com. I’ve personally discovered so much music on this site and can’t praise it highly enough.