Audiography: Episode 004: “Sample Breakdown – ‘Award Tour'”


On this edition of Audiography I perform a sample breakdown. Essentially deconstructing a song and looking at the principle songs that were sampled in its construction. The song featured in this sample breakdown is “Award Tour” by A Tribe Called Quest; the first single released from the band’s third album Midnight Marauders.

The first song featured is Sly and the Family Stone’s “Advice” from their 1966 debut album, A Whole New Thing. A generous portion of urban pop that doesn’t necessarily reflect the psychedelic soul of the SatFS that we typically think of, “Advice” is sweet, pop soul and shows a band ready to take it all on.

Milt Jackson’s version of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Olinga” is the next song featured. The title track to Jackson’s 1974 album, the song was originally written by Jackson’s mentor, Gillespie, in 1970 for his friend Enoch Olinga, a leader in the B’Hai faith who helped bring the religion to Africa.

Wendel Irvine’s “We’re Getting Down” from his 1975 album Spirit Man is a prime example of jazz funk fusion. Irvine’s development in jazz funk parallels Hancock and his Headhunters, however, Irvine was fusing jazz with various “outside” elements such as rock as far back as the mid-50s. His later career had him working with hip hop artists such as Q-Tip and Common as well as playing on Black Star and Mos Def’s Black On Both Sides prior to his suicide in 1999.

Malcolm McLaren, associate of the Sex Pistols, Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow, began producing hip hop tracks with a couple of New York hip hop DJs after Bow Wow Wow’s demise in 1983. Working with the DJ team called the World Famous Supreme Team, McLaren produced a couple of tracks that were big hits in the UK – “Double Dutch” and “Buffalo Gals”, with the latter achieving some status in the US. Tribe looked to another song from the same EP and sampled the track “Hobo (Scratch)” during the production of “Award Tour”.

Jade’s single “Don’t Walk Away” is actually a contemporary song to “Award Tour”, being released a year earlier in 1992. The group came to fame during the reign of En Vogue and SWV and unfortunately, never managed to break out of the 2nd tier. The cruel irony with this single is that despite the song ranking as one of the year’s top songs on both the R&B and Pop charts, Jade, the group, is barely remembered.

The final track, one that provides most of the underlying musical theme to “Award Tour”, is Charles Earland’s “Lowdown”. A jazz organist, who burned with the best of them on the Hammond B-3, Earland actually began his career as a tenor player only to fall in love with the organ during his stint with organist Jimmy McGriff’s band. This song was originally featured on two albums, both released in 1973 – Charles III and Intensity.

Featured Music:
01. Sly & the Family Stone – “Advice” A Whole New Thing (1966)
02. Milt Jackson – “Olinga” Olinga (1974)
03. Wendel Irvine – “We’re Getting Down” Spirit Man (1975)
04. Malcolm McLaren and the World Famous  Supreme Team – “Hobo (Scratch)” Buffalo Gals (1983)
05. Jade – “Don’t Walk Away” Jade To the Max (1992)
06. Charles Earland – “Lowdown” Charles III (1974)
07. A Tribe Called Quest – “Award Tour” Midnight Marauders (1993)

Audiography Episode 004 – “Sample Breakdown – ‘Award Tour'”
Written and Produced by Len Comaratta


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