Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jim Ingram - "Drumbeat" (the song remains the same)

Sometimes you discover things in reverse. I'm a big fan of The Chemical Brothers, and their excellent 2002 LP "Come With Us" features a song called "It Began in Afrika", whose heavily processed vocal sample of the phrase "it began in Africa" sets the mood for a driving, frenetic track. Although the sample helps make the track, I had never really thought about its origins.

I just recently picked up a copy of 2003's "Ultimate Lessons, Volume 3" and it also has a track called "It Began in Africa" by Fatboy Slim. The "Ultimate Lessons" series I'm reserving for future reviews, but they appear to be low-volume bootlegs of DJ mixes of questionable legality due to uncleared samples (Volume 1 had the original Double Dee and Steinski recordings from the early 80s). They're released on Starchild Recordings, which seems to exist only to release this series. After searching the web further, I found that this song was originally released in 1988 by the Urban All Stars, which is apparently one of the many aliases of Norman Cook (known to most as Fatboy Slim).

Intrigued by the similarity, I searched further and discovered that both versions of the song are based on a track called "Drumbeat", from the 1974 LP of the same name by spoken word artist Jim Ingram. Whereas The Chemical Brothers sampled just the phrase "It began in Africa", the UA version is a mix of "Drumbeat", the Jackson Sisters - "I Believe in Miracles" and Maceo & the Macks - "Cross the Track".

Good luck finding the original Jim Ingram recording -- it does not appear to have been re-released or even bootlegged. Fortunately, someone was kind enough to upload it to YouTube. The versions by The Chemical Brothers and Urban All Stars are not quite cover songs in the conventional sense, but it is always interesting to hear the original sources after hearing the sample. Presented in the order of my discovery:

The Chemical Brothers - "It Began in Afrika": YouTube.

Urban All Stars - "It Began in Africa": YouTube.

Jim Ingram - "Drumbeat": YouTube.

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