Breaking Down: The Emotions' "Blind Alley" (Stax, 1972)
For this latest "Breaking Down" episode, I'm joined by Matthew Africa, who likely was the DJ I first heard "Blind Alley from." Africa's been a DJ in the Bay Area since the 1980s and while he rarely flaunts it, knows more about records than you. Trust.
If possible you'll want to listen to this over headphones (in order to appreciate the stereo separation). Take a listen first, then come back here for more discussion. (My comments are labeled OW, his are MA.)
1) Matthew Africa breaks down the stereo separation.
2) Africa also tells us to focus on the guitar. (I converted the right channel to mono so you can hear this better).
3) OW: The sampling of drums here is interesting since it's one example of how even half a bar can be flipped into a good drum break. Most use the 3rd and 4th beat from one of the opening bars. For example, I'm pretty sure that DJ Premier used the 3rd/4th from the second bar for "Comin' For Datazz." In contrast, J-Swift used the 3rd/4th from the third bar on the Pharcyde's "4 Better or 4 Worse."
Here's three quickly created examples of drum loops made from those 3rd/4th sections.
4) OW: The return of the main loop is similar to the opening, but not identical. In this stereo comparison, the left channel is the first iteration, the right ear, the second. You can hear how the second iteration is considerably faster.
5) OW: Likewise, the minor loops are almost identical in melody but still different in tempo.
Look for "Part Two" to show up in a few days back over at the main Soul Sides site; we'll be discussing the sampled uses of "Blind Alley."
*Special thanks to Loren Kajikawa for correcting my very poor musicological analysis.