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Sampled is a compilation dedicated to unearthing the original songs that were sampled or plundered wholesale to create mainstream and cult classics like Moby's "Natural Blues" (Vera Hall's "Troubled So Hard") and Spiller's "Groovejet" (Carol Williams' "Love Is You"). A double CD of 40 tracks, Sampled is a laudable attempt to please ardent trainspotters and lovers of jazz, soul, disco, blues and contemporary dance music alike. Some of these songs are well-known, joyous slabs of melodic genius--Quincy Jones' "Summer in the City" (Nightmares on Wax's "Les Nuits") or James Brown's now infamous "Funky Drummer". Others are unfashionable and shamefully undervalued--Syl Johnson's seductive but antagonistic funk assault, "Is It Because I'm Black" (Cypress Hill's "Interlude"). Back in those Day-Glo pre-sampler days, Bob Dorough's 1960s folk song, "The Magic Number", must have seemed as playfully deep and highly skilled as anything his De La Soul admirers did on Three Feet High and Rising. This isn't surprising. For the most part, Sampled concentrates on the tracks that hip-hop producers have dug out of their crates, then sampled and stretched to make their own. However, where a lot of 1980s, 1990s and early 21st-century tracks won't stand the test of time, the songs collected here has failed to lose any of their soulful, addictive lustre. --Maxine Kabuubi
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The album showcases a whole host of disco, jazz, funk, and soul originals that are superb tracks in their own right. Highlights include: Max Romeo and the Upsetters's god-fearing ‘Chase the Devil’; Sly Johnson’s self-questioning ‘Is It Because I’m Black’; Aaron Neville’s laidback ‘Hercules’, and William De Vaughn’s “gangsta lean” ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’. Whilst the inclusion of a range of soft rock songs, which could be labelled “guilty pleasures”– such as Carly Simon’s ‘Why’ and The Korgis’ ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes’ – also allows Sampled to reflect hip hop and dance music's crate-digging culture that bit more accurately than some of its sniffier, and less broadminded, competition does. Though there are a couple of omissions that more seasoned observers will soon spot – notably The Mohawks’ ‘The Champ’ - there are three other volumes in this largely enjoyable series.