- Audio CD (December 5, 2005)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: DBK WORKS
- ASIN: B000AV626A
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,164 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Planet Rock: The Album
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Afrika Bambaataa, one of hip-hop's progenitors, was known as a talented DJ before his single Planet Rock came out in 1982 on Tommy Boy. The song, which sampled (actually re-recorded in the studio) elements of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express and was the first R&B track to use an 808, helped define a new movement in music, electro, which then inspired Miami bass and Detroit techno, and pushed the musician's status toward near iconic. Planet Rock: The Album, a collection of singles that came out four years later, captures Bambaataa's energy and innovation. This is his work with Soulsonic Force, which means his collaborations with James Brown (Unity) and John Lydon (World Destruction) are missing, but it's a good collection, the equally interesting Renegades of Funk (in remix form) and Searching for the Perfect Beat also present. There are also three previously unreleased tracks, which although not quite having the impact of the first half of the record, are much more than filler, and include guest appearances from famed Furious Five rapper Melle Mel on Who You Funkin' With? and D.C.'s Trouble Funk, appropriately, on Go Go Pop. The original 12 inch version of the title track is enough to make Planet Rock: The Album a worthwhile purchase, but the inclusion of the other material pushes that to necessary. - by Marisa Brown, All Music Guide
Top customer reviews
In 1982, the group began to experiment with electronic instruments and production, and created the electro funk genre with their hit song "Planet Rock." "Planet Rock" most audibly uses a keyboard melody from electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" (not sampled, but re-recorded the sample in the studio). The electronic beats fused with the melody were also borrowed from Kraftwerk's song, "Numbers" as well as from small parts of songs by Babe Ruth and Captain Sky. The track makes heavy use of a synthesizer, and notably, it was the first hip hop track to utilize the Roland TR-808 drum machine (released just a year prior), one of the first programmable drum machines. The futuristic/robotic/spacey characteristics of the song are what set it apart from hip hop then and hip hop even now. This track is catchy, rhythmic, funky, groovy, creative, and arguably one of the best hip hop songs of all time.
"Looking for the Perfect Beat" was released by the group a year later. The track, which is most recognizable to our generation as sampled in Common's hit "Universal Mind Control" features synthesizers, a drum machine, and the sounds of record scratching. The lyrics are nowhere near inspiring, but the melody, beats, and futuristic sound are undeniably addictive. Their third single, "Renegades of Funk" came soon after. The use of a drum machine is most prominent, making an aggressive beat to appropriately match the aggressive lyrics revering various historical renegades such as Malcom X. The lyrics also pay homage to electronica, stating, "We're blessed with the force and the sight of electronics." The synthesizer is crisp and clear, as it is in the rest of the album. "Frantic Situation" is the last of these four singles, and retains the same spacey sounds of the synthesizer and funky beats. Rapping is layered over top the melody and beat at the beginning, but smooth James Brown-esque singing comes in with the chorus, making this song a personal favorite.
The last three songs titled "Who You Funking With?" (featuring Melle Mel), "Go Go Pop" (featuring Trouble Funk), and "They Made a Mistake" (backed by the Sugar Hill house band) are notable songs in their own right, although they don't seem to rival the preceding singles. "Who You Funking With" is marked by a perfect funky, groovy bass line. "Go Go Pop" features the sounds of record scratching, a woman's singing voice, funky synth textures, and a powerful beat. "They Made a Mistake" is very reminiscent of Grandmaster Flash, so of course, it's upbeat, funky, and enjoyable.
The innovation seen in this album is amazing, and the masterful use of the Roland drum machine, as well as the Fairlight CMI Series II 8-bit sampler and the Roland Juno-60 created a clear sound quality. The album was immensely influential, and not only created its own genre, but assisted have the development of the genres dubbed freestyle or latin freestyle, miami bass, electronica, house, hip House, and techno. If you like hip hop and electronica, you'll like this gem from the 80s.