Adam Port’s funk-house bassbin bomb “Sally” is refreshingly distinct.
When that subterranean bassline kick in, you’ll be drawn to the dancefloor like a black hole just opened up under the mirrorball.
Port came to dance music via hardcore punk and hip-hop; although “Sally’s” four-to-the- floor beat and swinging bassline place it firmly in the house music section, something of a hip-hop influence comes through on the track, helping to give it a sound that stands out in the mix. It’s propulsive but laid-back, funky in a relaxed way, and anthemic without being all over-the-top about it.
Like numerous hip-hop tracks, “Sally” samples Dyke and the Blazers’ 1969 funk hit “Let a Woman Be a Woman, Let a Man Be a Man.” Arlester Christian’s (a.k.a. “Dyke”) distinctive “Huh” vocal stab and drummer James Gadson’s cymbal-laden break have appeared in productions by everyone from DJ Shadow to Public Enemy to Tupac Shakur; even Miles Davis and Beck have used the song’s drums. Both the “Huh” vocal stab and the drum break make appearances in “Sally,” and like old-school New York hip-hop group Stetsasonic, Port also grabs one of the song’s full vocal phrases as a sample. Instead of just letting the sample play out throughout, though, “Sally” chops and dices it, teasing you with sliced-up segments before bringing the full vocal back into the mix. The track’s deep, smooth, 808-style bassline also hints at a hip-hop influence; mixed with a house kick and some snappy claps, it’s a devastating combination, especially when the beat kicks back in after the main breakdown. Plug in the sub-woofer for this one.
In the end, “Sally” shows the power of putting together simple elements in just the right way: a beat, a bassline, a vocal sample, a quick horn stab, and some subtle atmospherics combine to make a dancefloor-magnetizing summer anthem. There’s nothing too show-offy here; no production gymnastics or “look at me” moments, just straight-up funky house goodness. “Sally’s” laid-back tempo, low-slung rhythm, understated funkiness, and instantly recognizable vocal make it perfect for late-night beach clubs and sweaty basements alike. The track’s out on Made to Play sub-label Play it Down; as a testament to its appeal, it’s showed up on both the Beatport Top 100 and the Resident Advisor Top 50.
You may or may not like the way that Sally walks (some people don’t, I hear), but you’ll like this track.