BACK TO THE BLUE NOTE BREAKS

Lou Donaldson: It’s Your Thing
From Hot Dog (Blue Note, 1969)

Ronnie Foster: Mystic Brew
From Two-Headed Freap (Blue Note, 1972)
Both on Droppin’ Science (Blue Note, 2008)
Back in the mid-1990s, Blue Note Records, astutely noting how popular their catalog was becoming amongst hip-hop producers, began to release a series of anthologies in 1993 called Blue Break Breaks. Each featured about a dozen or so songs that had gotten the sample treatment – the first two or three sets included songs directly from Blue Note but by Vol. 4, they had moved to subsidiary catalogs purchased by Blue Note’s parent company.
Almost nine years after the release of the last in the series, Blue Note has resurrected the concept in the form of Droppin’ Science: Greatest Samples from the Blue Note Label, and more than ever, they shine the light on how these particular songs have been sampled. (I’m almost certain thanks would have to go out to the-breaks.com for some of that info).
Here’s the tracklisting:
1. Lou Donaldson – “It’s Your Thing”
2. Ronnie Foster – “Mystic Brew”
3. Donald Byrd – “Think Twice”
4. David Axelrod/David McCullum – “The Edge”
5. Jack McDuff – “Oblighetto”
6. Joe Williams – “Get Out Of My Life Woman”
7. Grant Green – “Down Here On The Ground”
8. Lonnie Smith – “Spinnin Wheel”
9. Jeremy Steig – “Howling For Judy”
10. Lou Donaldson – “Who’s Makin Love (To Your Old Lady)”
BONUS TRACKS (Digital album and LP version)
11. Ronnie Laws – “Tidal Wave”
12. Monk Higgins – “Little Green Apples”
13. Donald Byrd – “Wind Parade”
A few thoughts about this…
1) I’m curious as to who the main audience for this ends up being. Most of the songs it features were sampled as early as 20 years ago and the most recent is “The Edge,” flipped by Dr. Dre ten years ago. I would think that many people who’d have a relationship to the songs that sampled these originals have been around long enough to have already copped most of these songs on an earlier release. Then again, maybe there’s a new wave of nostalgia that’s sweeping through, especially by all those, “I can’t believe ‘Crank Dat’ is a hit” curmudgeons.Also, while about half of these songs appeared on one of the (out of print) Blue Break Beats series, the other half have not, including “The Edge,” and surprisingly, both Donald Byrd songs.
2) For a “best of” collection, this is solid but there are a few inclusions I found surprising: “Oblighetto”? I love me some Jack McDuff but if Tribe had never touched this for “Scenario,” I’m not sure we’d be seeing it here. Same goes for “Howling For Judy.” I like flute funk as much as the next guy but it’s nowhere as big as a sample as some of the other songs here, especially the Donaldson cuts.
3) And if we’re tackling Blue Note artists: no love for Bobbi Humphrey? Blue Mitchell? Reuben Wilson? Really? I would have gladly swapped out songs by artists whose work appears twice (Byrd and Donaldson) to broaden the artist representation.

4) Of the songs off there, “Mystic Brew” still holds up the best (though “It’s Your Thing” is still a fun listen). That bassline was a work of beauty…

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