Mantronix - "Simple Simon"

Spring 1988, Denham Village, Buckinghamshire, UK ….. on the way to Syco Systems (high-end pro audio shop — by appointment only — caters only to high-end clientele and famous artists such as Peter Gabriel) to pick up the gear for my first studio (see pictures below)  ….. I heard this track by Mantornix on the radio.

Notice: If you need to know more about Mantronix and the man himself, Kurt Mantronik, refer to my previous blog Hanson & Davis. Please read that first and then come back here and continue reading this blog/article.

I used to dream about having a Linn-9000 one day, so I could load my own drum samples and program beats with its sequencer; I used to sit for hours and drool over the brochures of the Roland D-50 synth and think about how breathy and paddy (also see video below) my tracks would sound along with the Linn-9000 drums pulsing underneath. The D-50 was revolutionary at its time (1987), because it was the first synth to have built-in effects, such as the the reverb, attack-transient samples and linear synthesis, among many other things. When I went to Syco Systems with my dad to buy the new gear, Kendall Wrightson (see quick shout-out below) informed me that the Linn-9000 was no longer in production, because its parent company went bankrupt; however, its designer Roger Linn had come up with a much better machine through Akai. He pointed his finger towards the Akai MPC60 at the other end of the room. It was GORGEOUS. It looked like a mean machine with a tilting LCD screen! Oh, those 16 square rubber finger pads. I didn’t hesitate to add it on the transaction. Kendall said something along the lines that he had one in stock, boxed and with Tony Banks’ name on it (yes, Tony Banks — the keyboardist of Genesis), but Tony didn’t want it at the time. When I looked at the box, sure enough his name was in fact printed on the shipping label.

After picking up my new studio gear from Syco, I stopped by Our Price record store, bought the 12-inch of Simple Simon and then drove home from London to my parent’s country-home in Denham Village. I love this track through and through. It’s very melodic and street-emotional, especially the bassline. Love the guitars (which are not real but tone-sampled and played from a keyboard sampler). The sound and style is very different from Mantronix’ previous releases which were more freestyle-based. Simple Simon sounded more mature but still had that “Mantronix” feel … perhaps it was the snappy, hard drum samples and programming coming from an E-mu SP-1200. Whatever it was, it certainly had the Mantronix‘ stamp with MC Tee‘s rap vocals. These two guys really stood out with this one.

I used to play both A and B sides of the 12-inch. Check out the amazing editing and fast-gating on You Dubba Regard mix, which were very hard to produce. Around that same time of year, the Latin Rascals were doing clever edits like this, with stutters, splice-edits and gated chops. Check out their sound/edits on Information Society’s – What’s On Your Mind which I’ve blogged about previously.

Quick shout-out to Kendall Wrightson:

Kendall Wrightson
who was my personal salesman at Syco Systems. He was very well-known in the pro-audio industry, for representing and selling high-end gear like the Fairlight (watch Kendall’s demonstration), SyclaviersSSL mixer consoles, etc.. There were times when Kendall used to let me and my best friend Noel Derblich to go inside one of Syco‘s studio rooms and transfer samples from the E-mu Emulator-III (also watch video here) to my Akai MPC60 drum-sampler/sequencer (64 midi channel, 99 tracks). Kendall was also featured in several documentaries about music technology.

Mantronix – “Simple Simon” (You Gotta Rock Hard)…

Artist: Mantronix
Title: Simple Simon (You Gotta Rock Hard)
Year: 1988
Label: 10 Records (UK)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Simon – “Simple Simon” (You Gotta Rock Hard) (mp3)

 

Mantronix- “Simple Simon” (You Dubba Regard)…

Artist: Mantornix
Title: Simple Simon (You Dubba Regard)
Year: 1988
Label: 10 Records (UK)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Mantronix – “Simple Simon” (You Dubba Regard) (mp3)

 

My first studio with nice gear which I've bought from Syco Systems, London. Kendall Wrightson was my personal salesman. See his videos below.

Kendall Wrightson at Syco Systems, demonstrating the Linn-9000…

Kendall Wrightson at Syco System, demonstrating the Fairlight…

Roland D-50 synthesizer demonstration of its sounds/presets…

E-mu Emulator-II demonstration of its sounds/presets…

Mantronix - “Simple Simon”…

Like the name of the label suggests, ColdCut were ahead of their time. In Summer of 1987 when I moved back to England to start grade-11 highschool at ACS Hillingdon, on the very day my plane touched down at Heathrow airport, the first thing I did was go down to Our Price record store in Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire, and looked for hiphop records. Going through all the singles in the 12-inch section, I came across ColdCut’s Beats + Pieces …. there was something magical about this record when I touched it, even though I had no clue who ColdCut were and what they sounded like. I took the risk to invest and bought the record among others. Once I played the Beats + Pieces at home, I was BLOWN AWAY.  Just what I was looking for.  Something cutting-edge with samples and loops pieced and scratched together on top of a tight main beat/loop sampled from Led_Zeppelin‘s track Kashmir. Ever since that day, I’ve been a religious follower and fan of ColdCut.

Coldcut – “Beats + Pieces” (Mo’ Bass Remix)…

Artist: Coldcut
Title: Beats + Pieces
Year: 1987
Label: Ahead Of Our Time
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

ColdCut – “Beats + Pieces” (Mo’ Bass Remix) (mp3)

 

Coldcut vs. Eric B. Rakim — Not Paid Enough…

In 1987, Eric B. & Rakim were on a standstill and not going anywhere in the charts until ColdCut remixed their track Paid In Full which was absolutely incredible, filled with chopped samples that were pieced/scratched together ColdCut style. The most famous vocal used in that remix was from Ofra Haza‘s Yemenite Im Nin Alu track (the original LP version from her Fifty Gates Of Wisdom album, released in 1984), which then catapulted Ofra Haza back to the top-10 music charts followed by her smash-hit remix of Im Nin Alu in Summer 1988.

All in all, it was the doing and the genius of ColdCut to come up with such beautiful and timeless remix of Paid In Full …. bringing Eric B. Rakim to the top of the music charts and also making Ofra Haza one of the most internationally famous/successful singers in the world (she even did most of the vocal soundtracks for Steven Spielberg’s The Prince Of Egypt animated movie). At the end of the day, ColdCut never received as much credit as they deserved. In 1989, ColdCut released an album with an instrumental version Not Paid Enough.

I tip my hat for ColdCut.
They deserve a standing ovation.

Coldcut – “Not Paid Enough”…

Artist: Coldcut
Title: Not Paid Enough
Year: 1987
Label: Tommy Boy
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

ColdCut – “Not Paid Nough” (mp3)

 

Eric B. & Rakim – “Paid In Full”…

Artist: Eric B. & Rakim
Title: Paid In Full
Year: 1987
Label: 4th & Broadway
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Eric B. & Rakim – “Paid In Full” (mp3)

 

Ofra Haza – “Im Nin Alu” (1988 Remix) music video…

Ofra Haza – “Im Nin Alu” (Original version, 1984) music video..

Eric B. & Rakim – “Paid In Full” (The ColdCut Remix) music video…

http://youtu.be/wEkC5tIMj-M

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