Breakin’ In Space #1: We Come To Rock By Imperial Brothers


Like most kids I was captivated by outer space, so I fell hopelessly in love with electro music because most of it sounded like it had been beamed down from a galaxy far, far away. This was the early-1980s; peak Star Wars and the space shuttle missions, with the Moon Landings still relatively fresh on the collective consciousness and large chunks of the population convinced of the existence of aliens, imaginations stoked by films like Close Encounters… and E.T. The Star Wars Cantina band song was too noodly and free-jazz to be the sound of the future; electro music definitely was. The two went hand in hand. I’d be chewing on the tasteless rectangular sticks of pink gum from my Battlestar Galactica trading cards while listening to electro on my Walkman; we’d play with our Star Wars figures, Newcleus – who even dressed like intergalactic explorers – on the turntable. The dots were joined…

The first electro album I heard was UK Electro, a purchase by my older brother’s best mate from HMV on Tottenham Court Road in 1984. (In the same record buying session I picked up Close (To the Edit) by Art of Noise so my nascent mind was definitely ready for something new after my Adam & the Ants obsession.) But the first one that I really remember making an impression on me was Electro 3, and the track on that compilation that smashed my brainbox to smithereens was the Imperial Brothers’ We Come to Rock. It was a joint production between Aldo Marin (owner of Cutting Records, who went on to record the proto-techno cut Let's Get Brutal as Nitro Deluxe) and Jerry Calliste Jr aka Hashim (it means pulveriser or destroyer of evil in Arabic), responsible for the stone cold classic Al-Naafiysh (The Soul).

The ‘Club Version’ of We Come to Rock is pure NYC electro with funky Latin vibes, augmented by fresh block party raps from the Imperial Brothers, a South Bronx crew whose names are etched onto the run-out groove of the record's b-side – O.G. Rock, Mr Ice, Mark Ski and Soul Supreme. But it's the ‘Be Bop Scratch Mix’ that is the killer cut; an instrumental version with scratching from Tommy Boy's Whiz Kid, thunderous kick drums, a visceral bassline that whacks you in the chest, weird samples of coughing and barking and some evocative melody lines that still send shivers up my spine. It’s a work of futuristic brilliance that lives on in mixtapes by DJs like Freddy Fresh, Dave Clarke and Simian Mobile Disco.