The Vibrettes – ‘Humpty Dump (Pt 1)’

In today’s internet age there are very few questions that can’t be answered or that information doesn’t exist about, especially so in music where liner notes, books and the sheer passion it encourages means that information has been meticulously preserved. In the case of The VibrettesHumpty Dump‘ however, those questions remain unanswered and the facts surrounding it are largely a mystery or based on rumour. What is known, is that only one record was ever released under the name ‘The Vibrettes‘, a 7″ single with ‘Humpty Dump (Pt1)‘ on one side and ‘Humpty Dump (Pt2)‘ on the reverse. The writer and producer is credited as Roscoe Porter who appears to have only produced one other record, Richard Berry & The Soul SearchersWild Berry! Live From H.D. Hover Century Restaurant‘. It is also believed that Johnny Otis was involved in some capacity and the more recent reissue of the single is credited as ‘1971 Johnny Otis‘ despite the original single being released in 1973. The track was also included on the 2001 album Johnny Otis & FriendsWatts Funky‘. It is also a fair assumption that the songs were recorded somewhere in Los Angeles as the original single lists an address in that city. However, there appears to be no firm information on who The Vibrettes were, who played what instruments or who sung the vocals, merely rumour about someone who heard it was someone’s cousin. Despite all of this, the opening drum solo from ‘Humpty Dump (Pt 1)‘ is a famous breakbeat which has been sampled by everyone from Fatboy Slim to Aphex Twin.

The 2002 reissue of The Vibrettes ‘Humpty Dump’

Within Jungle/Drum & Bass, there are a number of well known tracks which make use of this breakbeat and it has been manipulated in a number of ways, sometimes heavily effected with phasers, sometimes pitched up to create a different feel and sometimes used as a layer with other breakbeats. In Manix‘s 1993 track ‘Headin’ to the Light‘ on Reinforced Records it can be heard with effects that almost make it unrecognisable when compared with its original form. In the 2004 Drum & Bass anthem ‘True Romance‘ by dBridge and Vegas the breakbeat is pitched up considerably to make an almost clicking drum sound and on DJ Zinc‘s 1996 track ‘Reach Out‘ the break is pitched up again but layered over other breakbeats. Other examples of its use include Utah JazzRunaway‘, Renegade (Ray Keith) ‘Something I Feel‘, BoymerangWhere Its At‘, Marcus Intalex & ST FilesNightfall‘ and Artificial Intelligence feat. Steo Forgotten Truths‘. There are many other tracks which use this breakbeat however and it is almost impossible to listen to Jungle and Drum & Bass for long without hearing it.

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