30.10.15

Hardcore Vocal Samples


My brother told me that the voice saying "Voodoo Ray" in A Guy Called Gerald's "Voodoo Ray" was Peter Cook's. Imagine that! I was worried about disclosing the information publicly because I noted that the version of the track on Spotify, the HAC09 Manray edit, doesn't have the sample. That lead me to suspect that Gerald, a lovely individual who I have had the pleasure of meeting on a few occasions, hasn't licensed it. However, then I looked about online and found quite a lot about the story - to the degree that it's clearly not going to get anyone in any trouble talking about it some more. There's an interview with Gerald on the subject at The Guardian and bits and pieces on old forums.

The original sample comes from the Derek and Clive Live LP, and the track "Bo Duddley". "Bo Duddley" features Cook and Moore discussing Moore's performance of an Afro-American Soul tune on the piano and, in terms of racism, sails pretty close to the wind. The point of the sketch however, and this is amusing for me to reflect on as a putative commentator on Black music, is to lampoon the ridiculous, white, beard-stroking jazz intellectual. Gerald used to use an Akai MPC 60 which had a very small sampling memory so Cook's "Voodoo Rage" is truncated to "Voodoo Ra(y)". You can also hear Dudley's off-mic "Later!"

That's where most of the online commentary leaves off, but is not the end of the story. In 1995 on the epochal "Black Secret Technology" LP Gerald revisited the track, and this time armed with greater sampler memory the track finally became "Voodoo Rage". What I find remarkable is how the context, the stroboscopic, propulsive throb of magikal machines immediately makes one thinks these are "street" samples - a voice from a horror film perhaps and a holler from some funk track...



One of the great things about Hardcore Jungle, and I'd place "Voodoo Ray squarely in the 'nuum, was these snatches of English voices. Whilst I was kicking the "Voodoo Ray" idea around I was delighted to come across the source of another great sample which has a not dissimilar provenance. In Kodwo Eshun's excellent and invaluable liner notes of "Routes From The Jungle" Dan Donnelly explains that "The Dark Stranger" samples come from a documentary "Bloodlines" on the making of Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula". I spent ages watching the whole thing (by turns fascinating and hilarious, a real period piece featuring Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves and Sadie Frost) before discovering this video which neatly lops off the relevant section. It is Anthony Hopkins who says: "the dark side of all human nature" and Gary Oldman with an uncharacteristic, if wholly suitable council estate twang: "the dark stranger". Or perhaps his is a hopelessly confused trans-pacific Australian?

There is a strong argument which could be made that when Drum and Bass switched to predominantly American vocal samples from Hip-Hop like on Maldini's "Daze" with its KRS1 sample and accompanying G-Funk synth, or LL Cool J and Method Man on The Ganja Crew's "Super Sharp Shooter" that the music began to lose its way. It lost touch with what made it so special. And of course those UK voices crept back with a vengeance in Grime.

There's more. Much more. Flag's priceless "Wonderful Day" Samples somewhere from the Anthony Newley vehicle "The Roar of the Greasepaint"Origin Unknown's "Valley of the Shadows" -  the classic quote "Felt that I was in this long dark tunnel" is the voice of Barbara from a BBC episode of QED called "Glimpses Of Death" originally broadcast in 1988. Finally, Low Noise Block's "Rave In The Bedroom" Samples Rick Mayall from the BBC's "The Young Ones" (season 1, episode 2 - Oil, 1982) saying to Mike, "Five pounds to get into my own bedroom? Ha! What have you done, turned it into a roller disco?".