Gorillaz’s “Rock The House”, the song that was born from a jazz song from the 60s

Talk about Gorillaz is to refer to one of the musical projects most creative and ambitious of the new millennium. In the same way, we can say that the virtual group (born from the joint genius of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett) has an honorable mention within those acts that defined the industry of the 2000s. Much of it, of course, It has to do with his debut album.

And how many records of the time can you boast so many equally emblematic songs… let’s be honest: there aren’t that many. Of that material, surely many will remember with tremendous affection rolitas like “Tomorrow Comes Today”, “Clint Eastwood”, “19-2000” and still others that ultimately delineated a generation.

Gorillaz in the video for “Rock The House.” Photo: YouTube Capture

However, today we want to focus essentially on another theme as emblematic as the previous ones; one that alone shows us the brilliance of Albarn and his team to show off their mastery with this beautiful sampling technique. Today we will go into “Rock The House ”, the song that was born from an old jazz composition from the 60s.

Gorillaz and their foray into the industry with the debut album

In the music industry, there are certain record works that break the time barrier and stay fresh even as the years go by. The self-titled debut album of Gorillaz, released on March 26, 2001, It is one of them. It doesn’t even seem that the album is about to be 20 years old after its release. It seems that it is a work tailored to recent years; an intrinsic proof that Damon Albarn and his project were ahead of their time.

Or maybe they are timeless … we don’t know. What is certain is that, as we said, few albums have the joy of being so iconic, hosting so many iconic songs and being able to explore all kinds of musical genres. And don’t get it wrong: Blur is an incredible band, but with Gorillaz Damon has really explored that immense universe that only he is able to shape through the hip-hop, alternative rock, lo-fi, dub and electronic music, among others.

Cover of ‘Gorillaz’. Photo: Parlaphone

Now that we talk about that interesting musical hodgepodge, the process by which Gorillaz exposes its melodic and compositional virtues. With this we wonder how do you turn a slow tempo jazz composition into a perfect rap-indie piece? Very easy (at least for Albarn): verses full of flow, a simple but catchy beat, a ‘badly played’ wind instrument and an old sampling but nice. That was the conception, of course, of “Rock The House.”


“Rock The House”

This was the song that Gorillaz released as the third single from her debut album and imminently enjoyed tremendous public acceptance. Yes “Clint Eastwood” had already shown that rap could converge with Albarn’s minimalist yet infinite wit, “Rock The House “ was the claim that the formula had not been a simple experiment. It was going to work in the end.

However, in the latter the composition is somewhat more curious (from this particular point of view). The rap on this track was performed by From the Funky Homosapiens -who also participated in the verses of “Clint Eastwood” – who gives a calm but quite pleasant flow to the track, uA look that fits perfectly with the main sample of the song.

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Now yes, the sampling

Magic in Gorillaz’s “Rock The House” it is, of course, in the sticky sampling. That wind instrumentation that sounds next to the beat when the song begins is nothing more and nothing less than a sequence taken from a song known as “Modesty Blaise” by British jazz player John Dankworth.

Two versions of this piece are known: a fully instrumental one performed entirely on a jazz base by Johnn and his orchestra. The second incorporates the voices of the performers David & Jonathan in a more ‘easy listening’ composition that Dankworth himself composed as the main theme of 1966 British spy comedy Modesty Blaise.

John Dankworth. Photo: .

Damon Albarn used the main tune of John’s song in its entirety to “Rock The House” without modifying it. However, on the Gorillaz single you can also hear a piccolo repeating the patterns of that section of “Modesty Blaise”, although with some variations in execution.

Thus, once again, we discover the magic of sampling now from the hand of Damon Albarn and Gorillaz. Here are the two versions of the theme of John dankworth so you can listen to them. And enjoy them!

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