Run DMC – My Adidas
So back to the hip hop for a short while. Run DMC's My Adidas is an important song for me in two ways: firstly, for the adoration of the sports brand which
still is my preferred choice of trainer; and secondly for a bit of a muso reason.
Adidas are the coolest shoes. End of story. Although I've never had a pair of the shell-toes that were the ones favoured by Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay, and so maybe I should get some for my fortieth. The brand itself has had its dodgy moments though. Especially when in the late 90s they went for a period of ditching the iconic three-leaf logo for a stylized A that made a generation of Liverpool football shirts look liked they'd been crapped on by Mondrian pigeons.
The muso reason… well, you'll have to humour me here. This song has one of the best recorded incidents of what is known in the trade as an 808 Kick (full decay).
Listen to the track, and you'll hear a long, sonorous ringing as part of the rhythm. That, my friends, is the 808 Kick. The TR808 was a drum machine manufactured by Japanese company Roland in the early 1980s. Unlike later devices, it was purely analogue – all the sounds made by it were made by complex electronic circuits, rather than the short recorded samples of drums made by the next generation of beat boxes.
Some of the sounds were crap (the tom toms were rubbish in my view), some incredibly realistic (the hand clap), and a few have become legendary. The cowbell and rimshot in particular (listen to this track by Mantronix for an 808 master class).
I had an 808 for a while in the late 80s. It was awesome. It looked like a cash register on acid, had loads of knobs, buttons and flashing lights, and (if you got the settings right) could make a bass noise that would break speakers. That, my friends, is the 808 Kick (full decay). These days, with the power of computers as they are, you too can play with a virtual 808 in a web browser here: http://www.audiotool.com/. Mine cost me four hundred quid. That is progress.
Number one on my birthday in 1986:Berlin – Take my breath away Just to take me out of my muso revelry.
Click here for the playlist so far

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