Killer synth-R&B-dance track from 1986.     Rumors… I can still take more more!

1986 was a great year for electronic R&B which incorporated the new urban sound, hiphop, funk, soul and dance music — a sound that later became known as the New Jack Swing in the late 80′s. New Jack Swing was pretty much hijacked by Teddy Riley [watch video] who took that genre to a whole new level. But Rumors was one of the very first tracks with that sound — a sound so poundingly raw, with a spine that keeps the drums, baseline and overall groove fused together as one. I remember this track hitting the top of the charts around the world. I bought a few different copies of the 12-inch records from Canada, USA and England.  I’ve also bought Rumors on Canadian-issued maxi-single cassette tape.  Why?  Because I liked the different artwork covers!

Almost every artist of this genre was utilizing the very latest electronic and groundbreaking musical instruments at that time.     E-mu SP12 [watch video] and Linn-9000 [watch video] were just the revolutionary sampling drum machines used in the industry. Their factory sound/samples that came with those two machines were legendary — practically used on thousands of tracks out there.  The SP12 had 24 onboard drum sounds plus 8 additional memory allocations for loading custom/user samples. Since the SP12 had no built-in floppy drive for backup, I am not sure how the user samples were stored. However, the SP12 was quickly superseded by SP1200 in 1987 which had a built-in 3.5″ floppy drive and more sampling memory.

Almost all the drum sounds on Rumors were from the SP12/1200. I recognize that snare very well to be from E-mu Systems’ factory sample collection. Just that snare alone could be heard on Jody Watley’s – Looking For A New Love,  Janet Jackson’s – Control by the two big-time producers Jam & Lewis, and even Kraftwerk’s – The Telephone Call… just as few examples.

The TR-808 drum sounds on Rumors, to my belief, were samples of the real 808 drum-machine loaded into the SP12/1200.  Most of the synth sounds, particularly the main melodic/stabby one, was from a Roland Juno-106 [watch video]. I know that Roland sound, because I, too, own a 106 and few other kinds.

Read more information on Timex Social Club here (wikipedia) –and– here (TSC official site).

Timex Social Club – “Rumors” (Social Club Mix)…

Artist: Timex Social Club
Title: Rumors (Social Club Mix)
Year: 1986
Label: AM Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Timex Social Club – “Rumors” (Social Club Mix) (mp3)

 

Timex Social Club – “Rumors” (Social Club Dub)…

Artist: Timex Social Club
Title: Rumors (Social Club Dub)
Year: 1986
Label: AM Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Timex Social Club – “Rumors” (Social Club Dub) (mp3)

 

Timex Social Club – “Vicious Rumors”…

Artist: Timex Social Club
Title: Vicious Rumors
Year: 1986
Label: AM Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Timex Social Club – “Vicious Rumors” (mp3)

 

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”…

The Original Concept

The Original Concept members were Doctor Dré (the guy from MTV), T-MoneyRapper GEasy G and Wildman Steve. This 12-inch from 1986 is one of the few singles not produced by Rick Rubin who produced pretty much every other track during the early days of Def Jam Recordings. Let me tell you how kick-ass this track is. It starts off with a backward turntable-scratch effect which then quickly scratches forward towards rev-up solo guitar riff which is then interrupted by a spoken word sample, drenched in dark-room reverb, “PUMP THAT BASS.” That sample should trigger your memory. Yes! You’ve heard it before on millions of other records, but it originated here — this track by The Original Concept (I think)! The vocal sample finishes it measure very quickly and then proceeded by the main beat, starting with a monster 808 kick and snare that sounds like a trash-can (probably sampled into an E-mu SP12 drum sampler). Very original track indeed. Absolutely killer scratching and freestyle MC’ing. Play the track now!

The Original Concept – “Pimp That Bass”…

Artist: The Original Concept
Title: Pump That Bass
Year: 1986
Label: Def Jam Recordings
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

The Original Concept – “Pump That Bass” (mp3)

 

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