Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Holy Grail

Imperial Brothers - We Come To Rock (Club Version)
Imperial Brothers - We Dub To Scratch (Be Bop Scratch Mix)

This 12" has proved to be a bit of a Holy Grail for me, in that I have been trying to get my hands on it for years now. It's been repressed a few times, plus there was a UK release on Morgan Khan's Streetwave Records, but I only wanted the original Cutting Records pressing from 1984. I used to be very hung up about original editions, but lately I've come to the conclusion that it's more important to have the music than to worry too much about the authenticity. But this record is one of my absolute favourites of all-time, so it had to be an original or nothing. I want to know when I'm holding it in my hands that this piece of vinyl came straight from the pressing plant in 1984 and into a New York record shop, where it was picked up by one of the original old school DJ's who dropped it into their set at a block party somewhere in the Bronx. I know it's wishful thinking on my part, but you never know...

I almost got it from the Record and Tape exchange in Notting Hill about 10 years ago. The guy in the shop was playing it as I walked in, so I made a beeline for the counter, probably drooling, and asked if I could buy it, but there was a guy standing next to me who said, "Nah mate, it's mine. Just checking it doesn't pop too much." I've seen it come up on eBay a few times over the last five years but I've always been outbid. Never by very much - a couple of dollars here or there - which makes it even worse. One time I did see it go for nearly £50, so that gives you some idea that it's a rare piece of vinyl that is eagerly sought by collectors. Anyway, I finally succeeded a couple of weeks back, and for the tidy sum of £29 I now own an original pressing of Imperial Brothers' 'We Come To Rock', and am immediately sharing my good fortune with you lot.

So what's so special about it? Well, it's an absolutely stunning piece of music. 'We Come To Rock' was a joint production between Aldo Marin (owner of Cutting Records, who went on to record the proto-techno cut 'Let's Get Brutal' as Nitro Deluxe) and Jerry Calliste Jr aka Hashim, responsible for the seminal electro classic 'Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)'. The 'Club Version' is great, with fresh party raps from the Imperial Brothers, who were a collective of four MC's, all of who’s names are etched onto the run-out groove of the record's B-side - O.G. Rock, Mr Ice, Mark Ski and Soul Supreme. But it's the 'Be Bop Scratch Mix' that is the one. An instrumental version with awesome scratching from Tommy Boy's Whiz Kid, it's got the best electro bass drum ever, and some melody lines that still send shivers up my spine. The scratching of the kid coughing and the dog woofing is inspired!

One of the real reasons for my fondness for this track is its appearance on 'Electro 3' (one of the best compilations ever), sandwiched between Divine Sounds' 'Dollar Bill', and the mighty 'Jam On It' by Newcleus. The album was mixed by Herbie 'Mastermind' Laidley, and he does this incredible mix between the 'Club' and 'Scratch' mix of 'We Come To Rock', but also incorporates elements of Newcleus. This combination probably surpasses any of the featured tracks in isolation, but it's still great to have finally picked up this record. It's a glorious one-off electro classic, sampled by Altern-8, and featured on mix tapes by DJ's like Freddy Fresh, Dave Clarke and most recently, Simian Mobile Disco, who went up even further in my estimations when I heard them drop this in one their sets.

Search eBay for the Imperial Brothers
Buy the repress from Flexx
Imperial Brothers' El'don at My Space
Imperial Brothers discogrpahy