I hardly buy Classic Rock. If it’s in a lot, cheap, or given to me then I will file it in my Rock section. I’d rather spend my money on Jazz or something funky with drums. To illustrate my point, I just rearranged this stack of Rock LPs I had into order and was surprised to find most of the Beatles catalogue. I scored them for free from a defunct radio station in Ohio, and forgot about them. That’s how often I listen to Rock records. That being said, at an estate sale this weekend, I of course stumbled upon some records. Stuck in between Frank Sinatra and Trini Lopez records was a clean copy of Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow. I remember an Asian bootleg copy of this being in my father’s collection (although when he gave me his records it wasn’t there), so I picked it up for a buck. Later that night I went
home and listened. A very familiar tune comes on. I get up, lift the needle, and start it over again. Yes it’s it, but no saxophone. I check the label and the tune is “Today” written by Mart Balin and Paul Kanter. The same tune, covered by Tom Scott and the California Dreamers and sampled by Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “T.R.O.Y” off of Mecca and the Soul Brother. This record, to me, is one of my most influential Golden Age Hip Hop records ever made. The song was at the height of good Hip Hop in 1992. Pete Rock used that saxophone sample to the fullest and created one of the most memorable beats (and songs) in Hip Hop history. He also flips The Beginning of the End’s “When She Made Me Promise” intro into the intro for the tune as well.
While the Jefferson Airplane version is slow and eerie, the Tom Scott cover has the energy and the crazy saxophone. This sample really stands out and IMHO makes the whole record. One of the most recognizable samples, unfortunately the Tom Scott on Impulse! has eluded me in the field so far. The closest I’ve come is Gabor Szabo and the California Dreamers, but I’m still optimistic. For now, enjoy the transformation from the Airplane original, to Tom Scott’s classic cover to the finished product of Pete Rock and CL Smooth. I’m not even going to go into the Lupe “tribute” track “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)”. I agree with Pete Rock: no disrespect to Lupe, but the track should be left alone. I was just reminded by Uncle Shecky that the original “Today” was flipped by Black Sheep for “Similak Child”! So many samples…….
Jefferson Airplane – Today
Tom Scott – “Today”
Pete Rock and CL Smooth – “T.R.O.Y.”