Throwback: Melvin Bliss-Synthetic Substitution

Melvin Bliss’s “Synthetic Substitution” was originally thought of as an obligatory B-Side to the song “Reward.” But Bernard Purdie’s drums and Bliss’s sentiment about the dangers of too much technology took the song beyond 1973 and conventional ideas of a successful record. “Synthetic Substitution” became one of the skeletal pieces of hip-hop’s sound beginning in the ’80s and was eventually sampled in more than 700 songs. The Wu-Tang Clan, Ultramagnetic MCs and Gang Starr are just a few of the artists to use Bliss’s song. Herb Rooney wrote “Synthetic Substitution” and his mother had a chance meeting with Bliss which led to him recording her son’s composition. Bliss died in 2010 and in 2011 the documentary Synthetic Substitution: The Life Story Of Melvin Bliss was released by Peripheral Enterprises.

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