Sunday, March 23, 2014

808 State Create Proto Mash Up With Remix of UB40's "One In Ten"

If you were alive in the early 90's then you are acutely familiar with the dawn of the techno music era.  And by techno, I mean the proliferation of sub-genres (house, rave, trance, HI-NRG, etc) that featured break beats married to synth sounds and samples to create songs that served as the soundtrack to Ecstasy-fueled dance club culture that swept across the UK and the U.S.  Quite a few of these songs crossed over becoming hits on pop radio or regular rotation on MTV here in the U.S.  Among the notables were The Shamen (Move Any Mountain),  Snap! (The Power), Black Box (Strike It Up) and Stereo MC's (Connected).

The din and cacophony of all these dance beats finally caught my attention, when I heard an odd and very unusual, but inspired electronic version of UB40's "One In Ten" (though I was a fan of the 80's Acid Ska movement). The song featured elements of the band's classic as re-imagined by techno/rave collective 808 State. The track was a hit reaching #17 on the UK charts in late 1992, providing UB40 with an unexpected trip back into the charts. The pairing was eerily timely as unemployment figures in the UK in 1992 were around the same 10% mark as they had been when the original was released in 1981.

Taking their name from the Roland TR-808 drum machine, 808 State were formed in Manchester in 1988 by Graham Massey, Martin Price and Gerald Simpson. Over the course of their career, they revolutionized the sound of dance, trance, rave and electronic music and collaborated with many music pioneers including members of New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen, David Bowie, Bjork and more.

The remix kicks off with a flanged drum intro that switches from half to double time with a deep analogue sub-bass that sounds like a cross between Kraftwerk's "The Model" and Asward's "Love Fire" and seamlessly blends into the vocal chorus, organ, percussion and saxophone from the original.  This is how a remix of an old classic should be done; using contemporary tools to modernise the sound without losing any of the original spirit of the song.

So how did this unlikely pairing come about?  According to an interview that members of 808 State gave in late 1992, "UB40 loaned us the original multitrack and we've used mainly the vocal and sax parts. There was no timecode or sync, not even a click, and the tempo wanders quite radically — getting a good loop out of it took ages. The original was around 132bpm and now it's 140. We made sure we dumped separate tracks and sub mixes of the vocals to DAT so that we would have various options for later re-mixes." 

Whatever your feelings about the track (I'm a fan), it may be one of the more popular and early examples of a mash up (a song or composition created by blending two or more pre-recorded songs, usually by overlaying the vocal track of one song seamlessly over the instrumental track of another) and served as an early prototype of drum and bass which went mainstream a few years later.

No comments: