Seeking clearance for the vocal sample, Powell emailed Albini, saying how much the music of Big Black had meant to him and explaining what he did. Mr Albini subsequently replied that though it seemed that “you’ve got a cool thing set up for yourself” he was hardly partial to the sort of fruity EBM that Powell makes. “I am absolutely the wrong audience for this kind of music. I’ve always detested mechanized dance music, its stupid simplicity, the clubs where it was played, the people who went to those clubs, the drugs they took, the shit they liked to talk about, the clothes they wore, the battles they fought amongst each other… basically all of it, 100 percent hated every scrap.”
Oh dear. Albini continued: “The electronic music I liked was radical and different, shit like the White Noise, Xenakis, Suicide, Kraftwerk, and the earliest stuff form Cabaret Voltaire, SPK and DAF. When that scene and those people got co-opted by dance/club music I felt like we’d lost a war. I detest club culture as deeply as I detest anything on earth. So I am against what you’re into, and an enemy of where you come from”.
Despite this, Albini was quite happy to let Powell use the vocal sample: “I have no problem with what you’re doing,” he wrote. “I haven’t bothered listening to the links, mainly because I’m in a hotel with crappy internet at the moment but also because it probably wouldn’t be to my taste and that wouldn’t help either of us. In other words, you’re welcome to do whatever you like with whatever of mine you’ve gotten your hands on. Don’t care. Enjoy yourself.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the bandleader who considered every instrument a drum would be responsible for giving the world one of the most widely sampled drum breaks of all time. Performed by Clyde Stubblefield, the oft-pulled moment arrives around five and a half minutes into “Funky Drummer”; (James) Brown bookends the break with a “one-two-three-four” count in and out. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson hit the nail on the head: “It’s hands down the most perfect beat you can loop—it’s very lyrical, very melodic, very rhythmic. It’s perfect. It’s magical.”
A good little ten song list, most of which you’ll probably already know the sampled loops’ origins, but there may be a couple here to surprise you. If the list went to 11, I’m sure Banbarra’s “Shack Up” would be included … and it’s the drum loop I nearly got into trouble for using. Yes, dear reader, the myth that you can’t be sued for a drum loop is just that.