Back in the mid-1980s, one of my favorite things in the world to do was to build commercials for various KFSR shows. Someone like The Three O’Clock would be coming to town, and I would spend hours at the KFSR production studio writing and recording commercials and promos and jokes.
This was all analog, of course, so everything I built was the result of splicing songs and words and noises together on a reel-to-reel tape tape using a razor blade, a grease pencil and dead reckoning. But I loved it. I loved the the hours spent rocking the reels back and forth over the tape head in order to determine the exact right place to make a splice.
And even though my voice wasn’t professional and my delivery even less so, the whole process was the perfect combination of creativity & discipline. (Kinda like using digital technology to build Medialoper Bebop 30 years later.)
So I would do things like stay up until 3:00 AM just to record the Time Lady saying “The time is . . . Three O’Clock, exactly.” from the phone. It was all of two seconds, and had nothing to do with selling the latest Fresno gig by The Three O’Clock: it was just that I loved to use found sounds to create something new.
Like the Jay DJ intro, which was basically the “Line busy” signal slowed way way down over like a Residents song and a bunch of other weird backwards noises. The point was taking a bunch of existing things and creating something new with them. (And whatever else you might say about that Jay DJ intro, it was a completely original thing under the sun. Still is.)
Which is why I’ve always loved sampling.
As far as I’m concerned, there is no difference between reusing Chuck Berry riffs to create Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols or Replacements songs and reusing bits of already existing recordings to create Public Enemy, Beastie Boys or De La Soul songs.
For example, De La Soul’s “Eye Know,” which famously sampled the vocal hook from Steely Dan’s “Peg,” the whistling bit from Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock Of The Bay” and a ringing guitar (and another horn part) from The Mad Lads “Make This Young Lady Mine” to create something brand-new under the sun.
And in the case, they created one hell of a love song:
The name’s Plug Two
And from the soul I bring you
The Daisy of your choice
May it be filled with the pleasure principle
In circumference to my voice
About those other Jennys I reckoned with
Lost them all like a homework excuse
This time the Magic Number is two
Cause it takes two, not three, to seduce
My destiny of love is brought to an apex
Sex is a mere molecule
In this world of love that I have for you
Eye know eye love you better
“Lost them all like a homework excuse” has always slayed me, almost as much as the breaks when Prince Paul combines the two horn samples and essentially creates a brand-new horn part between the verses.
Official video for “Eye Know”
Mad Lads – “Make This Young Lady Mine”
Steely Dan – “Peg”
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