Music Routes Blog

From Humpty To Safety

03 September 2008

Before I started music routes, I had no idea how much specific discographical information was not available.  I figured that if I really wanted to know who played on Yma Sumac's Voice of the Xtabay, I could find that information.

Turns out, I was wrong.  A lot of that information just isn't out there.  In fact, a lot of that information will never be known.  And that, to me, is a terrible shame.  So one of the things I'm excited about doing is making a repository for this information.

Often, an album will credit multiple bass players but not tell you who played on which track.  And perhaps that information is simply not known.  But if it is known by someone--anyone--I want it.

Another thing that's often difficult to figure out is to what extent an individual played on a particular track, and to what extent they programmed beats, sequenced MIDI, and dropped in samples using a computer.  For the purposes of music routes, I consider a DJ scratching to be a performer.  But I consider someone using a sequencer or programming a beat on a drum machine to be production or engineering work and not performing.

(Of course production work is not lower on a hierarchy than performing.  It's different, sometimes less important than the performances, but often more important than the performances.  "Eleanor Rigby" is a good song, and the Lennon/McCartney team deserve credit as songwriters.  And their singing is very good on it.  But that track is great due to producer George Martin's string arrangement.)

All of which is a self-indulgent introduction to my difficulties getting performance data for Digital Underground.  Surely there's a way to hook "The Humpty Dance" to the "The Safety Dance" but I'm not sure how to get from Shock G to Men Without Hats.

OK, so the Men Without Hats part is easy.  They had Ian Anderson on one track, and he played with Tony Iommi and a million other people in Jethro Tull and elsewhere.

But what about Digital Underground?  Perhaps Shock G can be connected to Tupac Shakur.  But are there tracks with Tupac that involve Shock G in a performance role too?  And then where to go from Tupac?

Yes, my hip hop awareness is less than my crusty burnt guitar rock awareness.  But that's why I'm posting this.