This volume was the first one I heard of the whole series. I remember seeing it in my local library and seeing the name Grandmaster Flash on the back and quickly taking it to the librarian's desk.
Herbie is on the mix again quickly cutting up The B-Boys' 'Two, Three, Break'. I seem to remember this particular track getting a separate release on the Street sounds label too. He blends seamlessly into the next B-Boys track 'Cuttin' Herbie' which as the title suggests cuts up Herbie Hancock's Rockit.
The dancefloor classic On The Upside sounds really good if a little dated - I can imagine it on the soundtrack to a cheesy 80's teen movie - and could easily have been produced by John Robie. Xena soon disappeared after blessing us with her one-hit wonder and then sprung up again on our televisions as a warrior princess years later. Ahem.
Herbie seagues niceley into Al-Naafiysh (The Soul) which is a b-boy classic as you must surely agree. The ending of Xena's squiggley little noises go perfectly with Hashim's intro. I still love the synth sounds on this track, the almost acid-dy, squelching bassline, floating melody and sharp drum machine. The b-side of this 12" was made for dj's and I've cut up the intro many times ("It's tiiiiiime!"). Hashim also gets a call back later on in the series on Volume 11 with 'Primrose Path'.
Side 2 begins with The Greatest Hip Hop Song In The World™ in my opinion. And that is the duo of K-Rob and the mad, rap version of Lee 'Scratch' Perry, old school legend Rammellzee and the ultra expensive if you can find it 12", 'Beat Bop'. Sampled numerous times by artists such as the Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill this is a laid-back plodding, head-nodder of a track with nonsensical lyrics but just so great to listen to. It was produced by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat who also designed the cover. Personally I don't get his art style and think it's just a bit too abstract for my tastes.
B-Boys Beware warn Two Sisters as they come crashing in after the previous mellow track. This seems to be a mixture of I.O.U.'s 'Freez' and Cavern 'Liquid, Liquid' which isn't a bad thing. Produced by Raul A. Rodriguez, there are certain signs of his other efforts such as Man Parrish here, and a bite from Bambaataa's 'Looking For The Perfect Beat'. Well G.L.O.B.E. is on board so I suppose that's acceptable.
Winding up the set is Melle Mel's White Lines. And if you don't know the story behind the whole Grandmaster Flash name kerfuffle I'll kindly let Mr Discogs explain:
Name of the artist here should actually be "Grandmaster & Melle Mel". This unique wording was the result of an ugly legal suit between Melle Mel (Melvin Glover) and Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler). When Flash was essentially pushed out of his own group - especially in the fact that he was a non-player on the breakthrough Grandmaster Flash & Furious 5 track "The Message" - Melle Mel (with the encouragement of Sugarhill Records label head Sylvia Robinson) decided that he would take Flash's place in the band - and essentially take his name as well. During this time, the definitive singles "The Message II" and "New York, New York" were released under the name of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5, even though Flash had nothing to do with these releases. The net result of the lawsuit forced Sugar Hill and Melle Mel to cease the theft of Flash's name - which resulted in the White Lines singles all being pressed with the name "Grandmaster & Melle Mel", with Melle Mel's name in larger type than "Grandmaster". White Lines eventually proved to be Sugar Hill's downfall, as the famous bassline and much of other components of the song were stolen from the sub-underground (but now much more justifiably well known) track "Cavern" by Liquid Liquid, which resulted in another lawsuit - of which Sugarhill would never recover from. Subsequent releases from Mel were released as Grandmaster Melle Mel. Mel later dropped the "Grandmaster" & reunited with Flash in the late 80's - and toured with the reunited Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5 in the early 90's.
Another great album with some massively groundbreaking music and its only the second volume.
Volume 3 soon come.