Weekly Playlist #6: Can you hear the Hendrix samples in these tracks?
A couple of weeks ago we brought you the best Hendrix covers. Following on from that, we have once again scoured the corners of the internet to bring you a selection of songs with slightly more obscure links to Hendrix.
This time it’s tracks that have sampled, borrowed, or down-right ripped Hendrix off by using one of his riffs, drum beats or chord progressions. Hendrix jokingly said in an interview once, “I’ve been imitated so well I’ve heard people copy my mistakes”, so we’re not sure what he would have made of the ways his recordings have been used in this list. One thing’s for sure, these tracks shows that it can be a fine line between homage and theft.
Listen to the full playlist over on Spotify.
1. The Soul Survivors – Impossible Mission (1968)
Samples: Hey Joe
The Soul Survivors were an obscure American soul and R&B group that were active during Hendrix’s lifetime. Founded by New York natives Richie and Charlie Ingui along with vocalist Kenny Jeremiah, the band produced three albums between 1967-74.
Impossible Mission, The Soul Survivors final release with Crimson Records, deploys a chugging riff from Hendrix’s Hey Joe as the driving refrain behind each verse. For the many guitarists that have respectfully marauded Hendrix’s work, tracks like Hey Joe provide countless opportunities for appropriation given the bounty of melodic ideas Jimi packs into his recordings. In this instance, what was initially a passing phrase now forms the backbone of a breezy soul pop track.
2. Ultimate Spinach – Gilded Lamp of the Cosmos (1968)
Samples: Foxey Lady
Without doubt the most on-brand 60s song title of all. Gilded Lamp of the Cosmos featured on Ultimate Spinach’s 1968 album ‘Behold & See’. The track is built upon Hendrix’s iconic introductory riff to Foxey Lady. As original pioneers of the “Bosstown Sound”, Ultimate Spinach ooze with the hallmarks of acid rock. Fuzz, echo, tremolo, feedback and a wha-wha pedal form critical components of guitarist Ian Bruce-Douglas’s sound.
Sound familiar? Hendrix tracks like Foxey Lady laid the groundwork for a flood of psych-rock bands in the late 60s. In all likelihood, Jimi would have been revered by Ultimate Spinach as an icon of the genre.
3. Cozy Powell – Dance With the Devil (1973)
Samples: Third Stone from the Sun
Cozy Powell was one of the most prolific classic rock drummers of all time. He performed with everyone from Jeff Beck to Peter Green to Black Sabbath. However, despite featuring in some of the most prominent British hard rock bands of the 70s and 80s, Powell released his biggest UK hit, Dance With the Devil, as a solo artist.
This percussion-led instrumental features the key melodic theme from Hendrix’s Third Stone from the Sun – as both a choral arrangement and lead guitar part. Having reached No.3 in the UK Singles Chart in January, 1974, Dance With the Devil demonstrates the continued significance of Jimi’s music to the progression of hard rock. This fact was not lost on Powell, who also performed with Brian May on the Hendrix tribute album, ‘In From the Storm’.
4. Digital Underground – The Way We Swing (1990)
Samples: Who Knows
Fast forward almost two decades and West coast hip hop group Digital Underground become one of the first artists to directly sample a Hendrix riff to create the beat for their 1990 track The Way We Swing. Group founder Chopmaster J said in an interview that getting the legal clearance to sample a song was quite difficult, before they discovered that playing less than 4 bars was legal, “You know, we were probably the only group to legally, without an issue, sample Jimi Hendrix”.
5. A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario (1991)
Samples: Little Miss Lover
Mitch Mitchell’s drum intro from the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1967 song Little Miss Lover is one of Hendrix’s most sampled pieces of music. Probably the most famous of of these sample is in this song by A Tribe Called Quest.
A Tribe Called Quest are well known for using samples from 60s and 70s classics throughout their records. Bob Powell, the mixing engineer on this track said, “Until that point, when people used samples on records, it was pretty much one loop that played throughout. [A Tribe Called Quest] were at the leading edge of a new wave where people started making elaborate musical constructions out of samples from different places that would not, and in many ways, could not, have been played by regular players.”
This is also not the only Hendrix sample that they used. Jimi’s Rainy Day, Dream Away was used for the start of their song Go Ahead In The Rain. Clearly A Tribe Called Quest saw Hendrix as an inspiration and their music as a progression of Jimi’s in a way.
6. The Pharcyde – Passin’ Me By (1992)
Samples: Are You Experienced?
The second Hendrix sample from what has been called the ‘Golden Age of Hip Hop’. This 1992 track by Los Angeles four-piece The Pharcyde samples Jimi’s opening phrase from the title track of his debut album Are You Experienced?
Considered an absolute classic by hip hop fans, this track is made up of a combination of at least seven samples alongside Hendrix, including bits taken from Quincy Jones, jazz group Weather Report, jazz keyboardist Eddie Russ and secretive 70s funk group Skull Snaps.
7. Beastie Boys – Jimmy James (1992)
Samples: Foxey Lady, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) & EXP and others
This song was described by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys – also known as MCA – as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix as it contains multiple samples from a variety of Hendrix songs. The track’s title Jimmy James was the stage name Jimi Hendrix went by before he came to London and ‘made it’.
The song opens with a distorted sample of Hendrix’s iconic feedback-soaked intro from Foxey Lady. After that it gets a bit more difficult to hear exactly where the other Hendrix samples are. We’ll be very impressed if you can spot all of them!
8. Public Enemy – Long and Whining Road (2007)
Samples: Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)
An interesting use of Hendrix here as it’s not just used for it’s sound but also to add to the references to the 60s throughout. As well as sampling Hendrix, Chuck D of Public Enemy make no less than 20 Bob Dylan references. This makes an interesting link between the samplers and the samplee as Hendrix was a huge fan of Bob Dylan, covering a various Dylan songs during his career.
9. Frank Ocean – Crack Rock (2012)
Samples: Little Miss Lover
Another sample of the opening drum beat from Hendrix’s Little Miss Lover, but a couple of decades after it was originally used by hip hop groups in the 90s. The fact that songwriter Frank Ocean used Hendrix for his critically-acclaimed album Channel Orange shows how relevant and timeless Hendrix’s recordings are to this day.
10. Burial – Rival Dealer & Hiders (2013)
Samples: 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)
Easily the most esoteric of Hendrix samples out there. Only the first second of Hendrix’s 13-minute long, psychedelic epic 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be) is used by secretive London electronic musician Burial.
The ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ sample can be heard at the 3:32 mark in the track Hiders above. The reasons why Burial uses Hendrix are unclear and very much open to interpretation. If anyone’s got a theory we’d love to hear it.
11. Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy (1991)
Samples: Third Stone from the Sun
We couldn’t believe it either! Yes, that’s correct. Right Said Fred’s ubiquitous 90s ‘one hit wonder’ I’m Too Sexy steals Jimi’s riff from Third Stone From the Sun for the guitar solo just over a minute in. We’re not sure Jimi would have approved of this one.
Listen the to full playlist below:
You can find a comprehensive list of all the times Hendrix has been sampled on the amazing resource that is WhoSampled.