The Clash: Straight to Hell
Punk’s most influential band sounds decidedly un-punkish on this track taken from 1982’s “Combat Rock,” their last album as a full band (which also produced the hits “Rock the Casbah” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”) One of The Clash’s less well-known songs, its opening salvo provided M.I.A. with all the ammo she needed to break through to the mainstream:
M.I.A. retains the spirit of the Clash’s “rebel with a cause” stoicism, and it’s hard not to think that the late Joe Strummer would have approved of this bit of musical thievery.
Chi-Lites: Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)
The initial drums might not tip you off, but once those horns hit, there’s no mistaking the driving hook that sent Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” to the top of the charts:
Beyonce slowed the track down, dropped the key, and gave it a pulsing bass beat, but the effect is the same, giving both songs snappy, catchy hook between the verses.
Nancy Sinatra: You Only Live Twice
Frank’s daughter supplied this title track to the 1967 James Bond film of the same name, written by John Barry. While the film is best remembered as the picture that ended Connery’s initial run as 007, the song itself might have slipped into complete obscurity had it not been sampled in Robbie Williams’ 1999 mega-hit “Millenium”:
Kanye West would go on to famously sample Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever,” another James Bond theme penned by John Barry, with more obvious results:
And speaking of Mr. West…
Natalie Cole: Someone That I Used to Love
Kanye managed to translate Cole’s maudlin ballad into a surprisingly fluid beat that operates as the basis for his off-kilter ramblings. West has always been a master sampler, from his days as one of the architects of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, and it shows here, making Cole’s original track almost unrecognizable (in a good way).
Celeste Legaspi: Magtaksil Man Ikaw (Bolero Medley)
A truly obscure track by Philippino singer Celeste Legaspi, the Bolero Medley’s opening became better known as the underlying sample for Lupe Fiasco’s breakout hit “Kick, Push”:
And while we’re on the subject of foreign tracks:
Abdel Halim Hafez: Khosara Khosara
Immediately recognizable to hip-hop fans as the riff to Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’,” Khosara was written in the mid-20th century by Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi and sung by Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez. The riff, with its distinctly Middle Eastern overtones, was given much different meaning in the context of Jay-Z’s forever-macking, cheese-spending world:
The Andrew Oldham Orchestra: The Last Time
This one has a complex history. In the mid-1960s, Rolling Stones producer Andrew Oldham recorded an orchestral album of reworked Stones tunes with mixed results. In 1997, The Verve sampled the Oldham Orchestra version of The Last Time for their breakthrough hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony”:
Some complex litigation followed, which Wikipedia can explain better than I can, resulting in the song being credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the original authors of The Last Time. This in turn led “Bitter Sweet Symphony” songwriter Richard Ashcroft to quip that it was the best song the Stones had written in 20 years. So who should get the credit for “Bitter Sweet Symphony”? You be the judge:
The Trammps: Rubberband
Best known for their 1976 hit “Disco Inferno”, Rubberband was a relative obscurity until Dr. Dre rescued it in 2005 for The Game’s biggest hit “Hate It Or Love It”:
“Hate It Or Love It”‘s distinctly old-school beat is given weight by the bass and horn combination that Dre pulls from the Trammps, keeping the soul and stripping away the disco:
David Whittaker: Stardust from “Lazy Jones”
Not a sample in the strictest sense since technically it’s an interpolation, but the song that became Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation stole its riff from a little-known Commodore 64 video game called Lazy Jones. A series of minigames, 1984’s Lazy Jones’ soundtrack was written by its programmer, British video game composter David Whittaker.
A quarter century later, and it’s pretty hard to imagine what sports games would be like without hordes of drunk fans screaming the melody of Kernkraft 400 (mistakenly known as Zombie Nation, which is actually the name of the band):
Labi Siffre: I Got The
Taken from the 1975 album “Remember My Song,” Labi Siffre’s “I Got The” is one of the most widely sampled songs, having lent itself to Jay-Z (“Streets Is Watching”), Noreaga (“NORE”), Foxy Brown (“Hotspot”), Beatnuts (“Beatnuts Forever”), Def Squad (“Countdown”), Wu-Tang Clan (“Can It All Be So Simple”), Insane Clown Posse (“Slim Anus”), and Charles Hamilton (“I’m Good (Bret Hart)”).
Realistically, though, the song is best known as the basis for Eminem’s 1999 hit “My Name Is”:
The sample, selected by “My Name Is” producer Dr. Dre, came from the middle section of Siffre’s blues song: