Tom Jones: Breakbeat Hero

I recently came across the excellent music website Who Sampled and I’ve been struggling to pull myself away from it ever since.

The name of the website says it all. It aims to tell you who sampled what. Got the feeling M.I.A.’s Paper Planes is naggingly familiar? Who Sampled can help put your mind at ease by telling you that the guitar line comes from The Clash’s Straight to Hell. The website’s aim is to develop a comprehensive database of sample-based music for users to discover music both old and new and explore musical influences.

Check out the link between M.I.A. and The Clash here.

As a music fan with a special fondness for music that makes skilful use of samples (think Prince Paul not P. Diddy) I am glad the Who Sampled website has been developed. It’s great that the technology now exists to provide streams of virtually every track imaginable, from the hardest working (and most sampled) man in show business, James Brown, to the relatively obscure Israeli singer, the late Ofra Haza, whose voice is featured on the seminal Cold Cut remix of Eric B & Rakim‘s Paid in Full. Who Sampled demonstrates how new technology has the power to change how we enjoy music.

That said, there is a dark side to Who Sampled. While I was pleased to discover today that Tom Jones unwittingly supplied the break for Stetsasonic‘s hop hop classic Go Stetsa I, I felt a little part of me died when I found out that S Club 7 had made use of  Grandmaster Flash‘s White Lines (Don’t Do It) to give the world S Club Party.

Check out the link between Stetsasonic and Tom Jones here.

Check out the link between S Club 7 and Grandmaster Flash here.

Like all the best websites Who Sampled draws you in and encourages you to explore all that it has to offer. And with its database being taste-blind it can be hard to resist the temptation of knowing what samples lie underneath those songs we are too cool to admit to liking.

Then again, maybe this is a good thing. Messing around on Who Sampled brought home to me the fact that good music is not the preserve of a particular era, genre or movement. I for one don’t want to one of those music fans that refuses to give music a chance just because it does not fit into some notion of what is or isn’t cool. Who cares whether a break comes from a Tom Jones record or some obscure purveyor of jazz-funk? Not that I’ve got anything against all things fusion. And so what if groups such S Club 7 choose to make use of killer samples ? To sample a lyric from Mr Dynamite himself, surely in music the only thing we should worry about is ain’t it funky?

Guardian Public Local Government Network blog on the Big Society

I recently contributed a blog to Guardian Public’s newly-launched Local Government Network on the Big Society and its implications for local government. The network, which launched earlier this month, looks really promising and hopefully it will be well-supported by people working in and alongside local government.