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”…

Pieces Of A Dream - Say La La 01

Hashmoder's "STABBING BASSLINE" Stamp Of AprovalThis is a very very RARE 12-inch gem indeed ….. New York Street Mix of “Say La La” by Pieces Of A Dream (1986). Good luck in finding this track anywhere on the net!  Not even on YouTube.  You may find the original-extended version of Say La La, but not this New York Street Mix, especially a good quality recording (high-resolution 320/kbs MP3). I just love the minimal approach to this remix which has a bassline to die for. Each bassline note sounds like staccato one-shot bass-stab thats deep. The drums are factory sounds that of an E-Mu SP12 drum-machine/sampler (picture & info further down below). Nice breakdown and build-up towards the middle and end with nice gradual fade-out. I’m gonna let the music do the talking. Have a listen. I hope you’ve got beefy speakers!

Pieces Of  A Dream – “Say La La” (New York Street Mix)…

Artist: Pieces Of A Dream
Title: Say La La (New York Street Mix)
Year: 1986
Label: Manhattan Records (via EM)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Pieces Of A Dream – “Say La La” (New York Street Mix) (mp3)

 

Pieces Of  A Dream – “Say La La” (Extended Album Version)…

Artist: Pieces Of A Dream
Title: Say La La (Extended Album Version)
Year: 1986
Label: Manhattan Records (via EM)
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Pieces Of A Dream – “Say La La” (Extended Album Version) (mp3)

 

Pieces Of A Dream - Say La La 02

Pieces Of A Dream

About Pieces Of A Dream…

Source of information (click here)

  • Formed 1975, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
  • Pieces Of A Dream are:
  • Cedric Napoleon (bassist)
  • Curtis Harmon (drummer)
  • and James Lloyd (keyboardist)
  • Pieces of a Dream were founded in 1975 in Philadelphia when the principal members were all teenagers.
  • Originally somewhat jazz-oriented, Pieces of a Dream has mostly emphasized R & B although they usually include a few jazz numbers in their performances.
  • Grover Washington, Jr., produced their first three albums (all for Elektra during 1981-83), they have since recorded for Manhattan.
  • The group has also included Lance Webb (lead vocals), Randall Bowland (guitar), Vincent Davis (synths) and Norwood (vocals).
  • Saxophonist Ron Kerber became a member in the 1990′s.
  • Their albums included ‘Pieces Of A Dream’ (1981), including ‘Warm Weather’ featuring the vocals of Barbara Walker, ‘We Are One’ (1982) and ‘Imagine This’ (1983), including ‘Fo-Fi-Fo’, all were a fusion of R & B, jazz and soul.
  • They continued this formula following their switch to Manhattan (via EM]) with ‘Joyride’ (1986), ‘Makes You Wanna’ (1988), including ‘We Belong To Each Other’, and the Gene Griffin, co-produced ‘Bout Dat Time’ (1989).
  • Later releases concentrated more along the smooth jazz vein.

“Say La La” Performed by FAMU’s World Famous Marching 100 Band…

E-Mu SP12  Drum Machine/Sampler…

E-mu SP12

The E-mu SP-12 is the classic drum machine & sampler combo that paved the way for such greats as the E-mu SP-1200 and AKAI MPC series of sampling drum machines. Redesigned from E-mu’s original Drumulator drum machine, the SP-12 is a classic drum machine with built in sampling capability. There is a set of preset drum sounds including kick, snare, hihats, toms, cymbals, handclap and rimshot. These sounds can be mixed and edited using the sliders. Then you can add your own beats and drum sounds using the built-in 12-bit sampler. Sampling time is limited to only a few seconds and the quality is very lo-fi (a sound loved by lo-fi and trip hop). Store your patterns and link them into songs, there’s room for 100 of each! There are mono and individual outputs (no stereo). It’s been used by Madlib, Large Professor, Chicago, and DJ Premiere.

The SP-12 was quickly superceded by the SP-1200 in 1987 which was continuously reissued through 1997. The SP-1200 is undoubtedly the more popular of the two since it has added features and emphasized sampling by eliminating the preset drum sounds.

Source of information (click here)

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