Monday, June 8, 2009


Labi Siffre is an English poet, songwriter, musician and singer, whose 1975 LP Remember My Song is well-known amongst crate-digging hip-hop fans trying to get their hands on the track "I Got The..." (which Emimem/Dr. Dre eventually sampled for "My Name Is".)

While trying to become a full time musician, Labi worked in a warehouse, a filing clerk at Reuters in Fleet Street and as a cab driver and delivery man. In the early 60s, in a Jimmy Smith style trio, with Bob Stuckey on Hammond Organ and Woody Martin on drums, Labi, on guitar, played for nine months at Annie's Room, a jazz club fronted by the singer Annie Ross. He then toured as opening act and backing singer for Jackie Edwards, the Jamaican songwriter, soul and reggae star. Labi went on to form another three-piece group called Safari, playing London's Soho clubs. Then, though he didn't play folk songs, his first solo gigs came in Amsterdam at the folk club, Het Kloppertje, and at the then haven of psychedelic hippiedom, The Paradiso.

In 1969, while Labi was working in Amsterdam, friends sent a tape of his songs to the DJ, Dave Cash and music publishers Management Agency & Music Ltd. (MAM). Siffre soon signed a publishing and management contract with MAM. However, since the MAM Records label was not yet in operation Siffre's recordings were licensed to other labels. His first contract was with Festival Records. His recording debut in 1970 was released in the U.K. on the Pye International division of Pye Records. He had a "turntable hit" in 1970 with the single "Pretty Little Girl (Make My Day)/Too Late" which despite being heavily played on Radio Luxembourg never made it to the charts.

By 1975, he had charted some UK singles and had some ace musicians come to his aid: session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan took duties on lead guitar as well as co-producing, Brian Bennett of the Shadows on drums, and Chas & Dave who would become well known in their own right. Considering these players, it's surprising the album wasn't more heavily promoted.

Either way, "I Got The" remains a classic for a reason: great arrangement, awesome players, heavy breaks, and fantastic production. The break comes in around 2:10.

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