Lifting the vocal from a 1930s blues track and setting it to a current tech-house backbeat must have taken a lot of effort, but the results are well worth it
The original version of Black Betty was recorded in the 1930s by blues legend Lead Belly, and has been covered many times. It’s also inspired a couple of dancefloor versions over the years, but this one seems to have trounced the competition: it’s already won the support of many an A-list DJ and been played by Danny Howard on Radio 1. It starts with a shuffling percussive backbeat with a kick, hi-hats and claps, slowly building into a solid groove in time for the introduction of the vocal sample, which have been meticulously cut up, put in time and pasted into the right place. As stated above, that must have been a nightmare as the closest thing that they had to keep musical time back in the day was the tapping foot of the artist that recorded the track! The result is a convincing tech-house gem with the vocals as the main hook and some simple synth work in the background, to keep that shuffling groove sounding fresh and put a 2018 stamp on one seriously cool retro vocal.
There is only one mix included in the release, but that’s all you’ll need – I’m not even sure a remix would be worth doing, because you could all too easily lose the magic. I for one will be hammering this one in the months to come, as I’m sure many other DJs will be as well.