#BMM30 Day 9 — SOS vs. Loose Ends: Battle of the beats

Sampling records might be a practice that’s widely accepted now but not too long ago, it was thought of as lacking in creativity and imagination, which has proven to be false provided the way some great producers (DJ Premier, Just Blaze, Kanye West, Pete Rock, RZA, etc) have been known to flip some old school sounds into classic beats. Then there’s the “Hold up, did they get permission for that” division of sampling and one of my favorite examples is in two of the biggest R&B records of the mid 1980s.

English R&B band Loose Ends burst on the scene in 1985 with the “It’s Complicated” anthem “Hangin’ on a string,” which hit the top of the R&B charts that summer. The song’s lyrics are totally Loose Ends’ idea — the story of “What are we?” But R&B fans had heard the song’s laid-back drum beat somewhere before.

Rewind a few months — the fall of 1984 to be exact. The SOS Band’s fifth album Just the way you like it was shooting up the R&B charts thanks to the single “No one’s gonna love you,” which cracked the R&B top 10 that fall. It’s a really simple Roland TR-808 drum pattern (boom-ba-tap-boom-boom-tap…) that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis used a variety of instruments and synthesizers on (read Jimmy’s insight on that record here). By the winter of 1985, Loose Ends releases “Hangin’ on a string” (produced by Nick Martinell) in the US and that same “boom-ba-tap-boom-boom-tap” is evident on the record, just with sparse organs, a cowbell and guitar riffs.

So without wondering if there’s some foolishness afoot, who do you think did it better — SOS and “No One’s Gonna” or Loose Ends and “Hangin’”? Listen to them back to back and then take the poll on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings on the hashtag #BMM30 as well.