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Saturday, November 23, 2013

[EP/Comp] WU-TANG CLAN - "36 Chambers: Alternatives N Originals"

Wu-Tang Clan's "Enter The Wu-Tang" will always hold a very special place in my heart and you could even go as far as saying that it literally changed my life. It was the LP that fully turned me into a hip-hop freak, the first album of the genre that I bought and I haven't looked back since. Today I have copies of it on both vinyl and CD:s and above my TV have framed the CD and front of the booklet. I've seen them perform several times and I have some 60 albums by the Clan, its members and Killa Beez officials, and it all started with "36 Chambers". When you're that familiar with an album it is simply incredible to hear alternative versions of the songs containted within it. I was meant to post some of the clean versions on the day of its 20 year anniversary, but I didn't have them at hand right then, but better late than never plus i got some other good materials to boost.

Before we get into the clean single mixes, which at times are very different sounding from their album equivallents, I got some of the in my opinion most exciting original versions ever released. Both of these were originally posted by Cilvaringz in the official media section over @ WuTangCorp.com, and were obviously dug up and released by J-Love at one point. They are both labeled as remixes on the original site, but by the sound of them I have a strong feeling that these were original versions of the song. Take a listen and decide for yourself.

01. "Bring Da Ruckus" [Alternative Version]
Let's start with this version of "Bring Da Ruckus" as the song became the opener to the album. All the verses are there and in the same place, and all the parts of the LP version are left in tact; you got the exact same drum programming, the BPM is untouched, the Kung Fu flick samples are left exactly where they are. On this version the minimalist beat is expanded upon with several melodic samples, most notably a bluesy guitar riff that comes and goes, and some piano/synth notes that gives the song a whole new direction while keeping all the basics. This would be a very strange way to do a remix; in my opinion the most likely scenario is that this is the version that all the guys rhymed to and when they couldn't clear the samples used they deleted those samples and kept the skeleton of the beat which is what ended up on the record. Further evidence of this comes from this brilliant behind-the-scenes article from SPIN Magazine:

"The final version of "Bring Da Ruckus" was not the original one we recorded. The first one had this blues sample that RCA couldn’t clear, so we re-recorded the sample and some of the other tracks. Other than that, the album that I bought in the store was the one we recorded." - Ethan Rhyman. co-engineer of the album

02. "7th Chamber" [Alternative Version]
The alternative version of "7th Chamber" is even more jaw dropping  if you ask me - it has all the trademarks of the early RZA and sound, while at the same time sounding prophetic in the context of "36 Chambers" as the additional sample not found on the finished album version evokes the future sound of "Liquid Swords". "7th Chamber" has been quoted by many as being said to be one of the "weaker" moments of the album; but to me both the original Pt. 1 and the Pt. 2 remix with its heavy emphazis on the West Coast bass are both magnificent tracks in their own rights, that I couldn't imagine the Wu's debut without. With that being said, this alternative, presumably original version of "7th Chamber" is superior to them both. 

Although in the quote above states that aside from "Bring Da Ruckus" the album that was turned in and released were pretty much the same. Yet, I doubt strongly this is a remix for some of the same reasons I gave about the "Bring Da Ruckus" situation - the version features all of the backbones of the beats, only with that added sample that runs throughout, which likely wouldn't get cleared which would explain the song being the same exact aside from the dark, moody strong horn and bass loop reminiscent of "Swordsman" and "I Gotcha Back". As if that wasn't enough this version includes an entirely new Ghostface Killah verse not found on any other version of the songs, or appearing on any other Wu songs for that matter while all the other verses are left exactly intact. Damn,, what a gem!

03. "C.R.E.A.M." [Clean Mix]
In the article a lot of the sound engineers, technicans and overseers of the project spooke on how extremely lo-fi the album was deliberately sounding. This is what they wwanted, but the label was scratching their head. As a result the single versions featured completely different mixes of the album tracks, thoroughly touched up into hi-fi versions quite different from the established LP mixes. The most interesting of these is definitely  the single/video version of "C.R.E.A.M."; the song that was the track that really broke the Wu into the mainstream. Aside from a much cleaner sound, there are additional adlibs here, added wailing by both 60 Second Assassin and Method Man and an additional break up of the beat near the end. A must hear for die hard Wu fans.

04. "Can It Be All So Simple" [Radio Edit]
While there's no revolutionary changes in the actual music presented here, everything is sounded a whole lot clearer; just like with "C.R.E.A.M." making the song sound like a Hi-Fi recording of a '93 hip-hop song. This really makes you wonder what the impact of the LP would have been if mixes like these would've been used for all songs on the album. Personally, I think the impact of the album would've been pretty much the same, both mixes of the sngs have their definite charms but it's great to be able to hear both versiions for comparision.

05. "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin' Ta F' Wit'" [Radio Edit]
I am gonna repeat myself too much; this single version is another new mix of the song and is interesting for the same reasons as the tracks above. What is estra interesting hear is that RZA incorporates the edits of the curses through sound effects in the same way he did on "Protect Ya Neck" - in this case a 0.30 second saxophone sample. Of note is also that the shout outs by RZA at the end is considerably shorter and diffeerent.

06. "Method Man" [Homegrown Version]
"Protect Ya Neck" grabbed the hood and made the Wu an underground phenomenon,, while the solo flip-track "Method Man" was aimed at the mainstream audiences; and it was a brilliant plan that worked. When the song was released as a solo 12"/CDM, it containted a version called "The Homegrown Version". The beat is the same, but what makes it a must hhear is that it contains an original extra Method Man verse acting as the third and closing versee. This is not found annywhere else and is obviously a most-hear. The sound quality is bafck to the lo-fi that we all came to love about "36 Chambers". Very cool ish, no doubt!

07. "Protect Ya Neck" [Bloody Version]
Unlike the previous songs presented here (save for the two first alternative, originally vaulted versions), this is taken from the very first 1992 pressing of the single and keeps the lo-fi grit just like on the LP. The difference is that rather than the album being the uncut version, dubbed "The Bloody Version" is only found on the single and was a rare track up until it was included in the Wu Greatest Hits album "Legend Of Wu-Tang" in 2001. It's an interesting listen, but the sound effects editing of the retail track have became such an integral part of the song that this is by far the ultimate version.

In short, whether you're a Wu-Tang fantatic, a fan of their first album and first round of solos or simply a hip-hop fan with respect for the foundations of the genres this is a must listen. Being that the tracks are pulled from various sources, from mixtapes to cleaned up maxi-CD-singles there's some gap between quality here but who cares when the music is this dope, and everything is definietly very listenable, so enjoy and throw your W's up while we wait for " A Better Tomorrow"! Last but definitely not least I want to give a big shout to Billo and his wonderful Wu-related blog WTCFoLife from which I, with his full permission, borrowed the rips of tracks 3-6; thanks fam!

4 comments:

  1. Another fascinating read.

    Salute.

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  2. if you have more alternative/early versions of wu tracks do another comp man.enjoyed this so much!thanks.

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  3. Do I have to change the filename? Now it's .7z, Laptop doesn't recognize.

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  4. yo man can you put another download link? i can't download from this one...

    ReplyDelete