There’s a commendable level of crazy sonics sneaked into these brews.
Noel Gardner 2009
Library music is one of the most mysterious subsets of the whole world of recorded sound – essentially, it’s music composed for use in TV, radio, film, ads and so forth. Usually written and played by people you’ve never heard of, who don’t get a credit anyway, most of it is never made available to the general public. So why do certain pieces of dust-choked library music vinyl command such fascination, and crazy prices, among some record collectors?
Two reasons, broadly speaking. Firstly, this stuff is through the roof obscurity-wise, as only people working in the biz would have normally encountered it on wax. Secondly, a lot of it’s actually damn fine, especially if funky breakbeats light your fire. Take Bite Harder, for example. It all comes from the archives of De Wolfe, a London-based music library which is a century old, although compilers Warren De Wolfe and Joel Martin have honed in on the late 1960s and early 1970s here. The sequel to 1998 compilation Bite Hard, whose selections were sampled on Jay-Z and Ja Rule tracks, this CD features 19 tasty numbers, some of which have already been strip-mined for Rihanna, M.O.P. and Cam’ron beats.
So what does Bite Harder offer the non-cratedigger, then? A fair bit, actually. Granted, the cheese levels may sometimes be in the red, but so was plenty of authentic funk and psychedelia from the era and, hey, considering these guys were just clocking in and doing their day job, there’s a commendable level of crazy sonics sneaked into these brews. Some performers are actually musicians of note under pseudonyms: Peter Reno’s Street Girl is snappily funked hard rock that is in fact performed by psychedelic garage rockers The Pretty Things, while other De Wolfe session men included Stéphane Grappelli and Jimmy Page.
Sometimes it might remind you of the theme to Grandstand (Precinct by Simon Haseley), sometimes Sesame Street incidental music. And then you may well bug out to these wah-wah explosions, percussive feasts and glutinous prog/funk oddness, and wonder how the composers could be content to give them up to the suits.