In the second part of our comprehensive Ultimate Breaks and Beats breakdown, we’re looking at the thirty-five tracks that appear on instalments 506 through 510.
I’m willing to wager that SBR 506 was on hand during the making of Eric B. & Rakim’s Follow The Leader: two selections from the compilation were used to album highlight “Put Your Hands Together.” All in all, it carries 252 samples.
SBR 506 opens with an esoteric song by Please, a Filipino funk outfit. Their 1975 cover of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Sing A Simple Song” was a novel pick - it hadn’t been sampled on any tracks prior to 1986, though it proved a mildly popular breakbeat.
James Brown cut many influential jams in his storied career, but “Cold Sweat” was one of the most significant. The 1967 two-part single was a definitive moment in the development of funk. It’s also the first time Brown introduced a Stubblefield break with the phrase “give the drummer some!”
A funky rendering of an orchestral classic and cinematic staple, The Cecil Holmes Soulful Sounds’ cover of “Theme to 2001,” more aptly known as Strauss’ “Also Spracht Zarathustra,” has been sampled over 30 times.
Dennis Coffey’s “Son of Scorpio,” released in 1972, is a spiritual successor to his 1971 classic, “Scorpio.” Whilst the original has been sampled on over 100 tracks, it never appeared on any UBB releases. “Son of Scorpio” has graced just 12 cuts.
The Magic Disco Machine, a brief two-album outfit, was comprised of in-house session musicians at Motown. Their most enduring contribution to music was “Scratchin’,” eventually a popular breakbeat.
The record was broken in by Run-DMC on their 1984 debut, later appearing on songs by MC Shan, Stetsasonic, Fat Boys and Biz Markie. Like “Son of Scorpio” before it, “Scratchin’” was featured on Eric B. & Rakim’s “Put Your Hands Together.”
Fat Larry’s Band were a Philly-based funk outfit founded by drummer Larry James. They were mildly successful during their tenure, especially in the UK, though the band folded after James died from a sudden heart attack in 1987.
The final inclusion is courtesy of Uncle Louie, a one-off project of musician and film composer Walter Murphy. Their six-track LP, 1979’s Uncle Louie's Here, featured guitar from the late Wah Wah Watson.
I know what you’re thinking: how many James Brown songs are there? There are a lot, and of that a lot, a whole bunch feature instrumental passages and enthusiastic ad-libs that are just begging to be turned into a hard beat. In the case of Brown’s more popular samples, they’re turned into a procession of classics.
Whilst the total would be far greater if we included the In The Jungle Groove edit of “Give It Up or Turnit A Loose,” we’re sticking with Brown’s original version. 220 of the 398 samples are courtesy of Funkadelic’s “Good Old Music.” If we’d included Brown’s remix, we’d be looking at 617 flips.
The first track featured is J.B’s 1969 hit, “Give It Up, or Turnit A Loose.” The version included on SBR 507 was recorded for Brown’s 1970 love album, Sex Machine, and subsequently remixed by Tim Rogers for an official Brown breakbeat compilation.
Funky Constellation’s “Street Talk” is an anomaly. Whilst the cuts included throughout the 25 UBB instalments all achieve varying degrees of success, it’s rare that some rack up single-digit sample credits. “Street Talk” has been sampled once.
An underground funk outfit from Portland, Pleasure experienced their biggest successes throughout the late ‘70s. “Let’s Dance” was the opening track to their sophomore album, 1976’s Accept No Substitutes.
“I Can’t Stop” by John Davis & The Monster Orchestra has appeared on just over 80 tracks, but it’s graced a handful of classic efforts. The song was released as a single from their 1976 debut, Night & Day.
“Are you ready to be a planetary citizen?” John McLaughlin, a genre-defying English guitarist and composer, would like to know. “Planetary Citizen” was included on the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s sixth release, 1976’s Inner Worlds.
The next inclusion is courtesy of psychedelic funk vanguards, Funkadelic. The 1970 track, included on their self-titled debut, is a cover of Parliament’s “Good Old Music,” written by the nexus of the then-forming Parliament-Funkadelic collective, George Clinton.
William Ray’s “You Are What You Are” is one of the few things the incredibly obscure musician has left behind. Discogs lists one collaborative album - Black and Gold - and two singles, which seem to be issues of the same track.
This is where it gets confusing: there were two pressings of SBR 508, and within those separate pressings is some pretty wild variation. Let me explain. The first pressing of the record was distributed but quickly recalled, likely due to the threat of legal action, meaning that the original release was rendered ‘unofficial.’ Another UBB compilation has been labelled SBR 508, but at only four tracks long, it’s almost certainly unofficial.
There are two seperate tracklists for the original release: the one we’re using here, and another which contains a swathe of the same tracks with a distinct tracklist. I’m not exactly in a position to buy up the entire UBB collection, so for now, we’re gonna work on the assumption that this is the original pressing. If so, SBR 508 actually contains two tracks that have never been sampled: Jesse Green’s “Flip” and Freddie Perren’s “2 Pigs and a Hog.” It makes sense, given the lack of circulation. Nonetheless, there are 341 samples within.
Despite their all-American name, Babe Ruth were a progressive rock band hailing from the UK. “The Mexican” proved the most popular cut from their debut album, 1972’s First Base, and was issued as a single in ‘73.
Eastside Connection were a funk-disco outfit who released their only LP, Brand Spanking New!, in 1979. Their most enduring cut, “Frisco Disco,” was released as a standalone single in ‘78, and has since been sampled just 15 times.
Jesse Green, a reggae musician turned solo disco artist, scored a few hits in the late ‘70s.
Despite bearing all the hallmarks of the much-sampled disco hits of the era, “Flip” doesn’t seem to have appeared on any recorded tracks. It does feature a brief instrumental break that may have served as a popular section during hip hop’s party-in-the-park years, which might explain the inclusion.
Wild Sugar’s “Bring It Here” was released in 1981, at which point recorded hip hop had existed for two whole years. One of just two singles from the Fatback Band affiliates, it was soon caught up in early sampling, appearing on 1982’s “Konk Party.”
The Meters stand alongside James Brown himself as the originators of funk, though it took until their third LP, 1970’s Struttin’, for the group to incorporate vocals into their repertoire.
“Handclapping Song,” included on that record, hadn’t been sampled prior to SBR 508. The track was almost instantly embraced, and appeared on cuts by Salt-N-Pepa, Stetsasonic, Gang Starr, Marley Marl, Del, Das EFX, Redman and ATCQ.
The next breakbeat is delivered on Manzel’s “Midnight Theme,” a 1979 funk tune. The instrumental outfit from Kentucky recorded just four tracks over a few 1976 sessions, releasing them over two years before falling into obscurity.
Freddie Perren was best known as a member of The Corporation, a Motown songwriting and production team that penned early hits for The Jackson 5. After leaving Motown, Perren produced two tracks on the Saturday Night Fever OST as well as disco classic “I Will Survive.”
“Two Pigs and a Hog,” one of just two singles released by Perren under his own name, has never been sampled.
Marva Whitney’s “It’s My Thing,” a 1970 response record to early Isley Brothers hit, “It’s Your Thing.” Produced by James Brown, the track has long since eclipsed the original in hip hop circles.
The track proved popular during the so-called ‘golden age’ of hip hop, appearing on cuts by N.W.A, Public Enemy, EPMD, Ice Cube, Run-DMC, Del the Funky Homosapien, Big Daddy Kane, Gang Starr and Tha Alkaholiks.
There are three classic samples on the six-track SBR 509, which could mean any number of things: coincidence, particularly good dissemination of the compilation or simply a good ear for what would take elsewhere in the culture. They are, in order of appearance, ESG’s “UFO,” Billy Squier’s “The Big Beat,” and Mountain’s “Long Red.” These three jams help bring the total number of samples up to a respectable 1555.
“Easter Parade” is a 1982 soul cut by mononymous Ingrid, a one-and-done artist hailing from the UK. The song was originally penned by Irving Berlin, the great American composer, 49 years prior.
It’s been sampled just four times: first by Cypress Hill in ‘91, then by Anotha Level in ‘94, Chicken Lips in ‘00 and A Band Called Flash in ‘15. The only figure with more samples to his name is producer Laurie Latham, who worked with Amy Winehouse.
One of the most recognisable hip hop samples, “UFO” is the handiwork of Bronx-based avant-garde group ESG. The five-piece, which comprised of four sisters and a friend, released “UFO” on their 1981 self-titled EP.
Billy Squier has provided hip hop with more than a few bass hits, all of which are sourced from is aptly-named 1980 pop-rock hit, “The Big Beat.”
First utilised by The Cold Crush Brothers in 1981, it’s since provided hefty hits to tracks by Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Run-DMC, The Real Roxanne, JJ Fad, Eazy-E, Britney Spears, Big Daddy Kane, A Tribe Called Quest, UTFO, DJ Quik, Kurious, Geto Boys and Queen Latifah. It’s very, very popular.
Next up is Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern,” a 1983 rock-funk jam defined by a prominent bass line. It was the biggest hit for the NYC-based no-wave outfit.
The track has been sampled more than 20 times, most notably appearing on songs such as Grandmaster Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” and Guru’s “Cave In.” It’s also featured on songs by Doug E. Fresh, 2 Live Crew and Art Of Noise.
Where to start? “Long Red,” recorded by hard rock group Mountain at Woodstock, was released on their 1972 live LP. The opening ad-libs - “clap your hands, louder!” - have since become a staple, with the cut having been sampled almost 700 times.
Virginia-based R&B outfit The Whole Darn Family. They released one studio album, Has Arrived, which produced four singles. “Seven Minutes Of Funk” remains their only sample, and has proved mildly popular.
SBR 510 continues the trend of compilations doing numbers, which might point towards the momentum the series was generating. That having been said, it might mean nothing at all: it’s important to remember that SBR 501 contains the most samples of any instalment. Between James Brown and Dexter Wansel, there’s some influential sounds at play. The sounds found over these seven tracks have cropped up a good 1418 times.
Delving yet again into Brown’s extensive, sample-rich catalogue, SBR 510 opens with “Funky President (People It’s Bad).” The track is about Gerald Ford, a president famous for never actually having been elected. He’s also patently un-funky.
Next up is “Theme from the Planets,” a mid-’70s synth jam by Dexter Wansel. The electro-dance track was included on the keyboardist’s successful cosmic-themed LP, 1976’s Life On Mars.
It’s since been sampled more than 250 times, making it Wansel’s most prolific release. You might recognise it from songs by artists such as J. Cole, Eric B. & Rakim, DJ Shadow, Pete Rock, Dido, Digital Underground, Ice-T and Tomoyasu Hotei.
SBR 510 continues with another theme: Rhythm Heritage’s cover of “Theme from S.W.A.T.,” written by Barry De Vorzon and originally performed by his orchestra. S.W.A.T. ran for a year, with two seasons releasing in ‘75 and ‘76. This cover is one of just a few TV themes to top the Billboard 100.
The Jackson’s 5’s “It’s Great To Be Here” was written by Motown’s legendary in-house writing and production team, The Corporation, and produced alongside Hal Davis. It was included on their 5th studio album, 1971’s Maybe Tomorrow, released just a year before The Corporation split.
Another oft-sampled tune, Brothers Johnson’s “Ain’t We Funkin’ Now” was produced by groove-master Quincy Jones. The 1978 funk tune was included on their third album, Blam!, which went platinum the very same year.
Next up is La Pregunta’s “Shangri La.” The 1978 track is a disco cover of a classic 1957 version, arranged for the then-popular harmonising quartet format, which was itself a reinterpretation of a 1946 instrumental piece.
The closing track on SBR 510 is Esther Williams’ “Last Night Changed It All (I Really Had A Ball).” The disco tune was included on Williams’ debut album, 1976’s Let Me Show You.
Though she’s otherwise an obscure artist, “Last Night Changed It All” has cast a small shadow across hip hop. It’s been featured on tracks by DJ Quik, Jamiroquai, Boogie Down Productions, De La Soul, Onyx, Coldcut and Guru.