While “Mardi Gras” is probably Bob James most sampled, track, “Nautilus” is right up there with it. This post looks at a Record Store Day, 2020, re-issue of the classic track.
If you missed, or were not lucky enough to win one of the test pressing that Evo gave away in social media competitions, it’s unlikely you’ll see one of the copies of the Bob James single released on Black Friday 2020 as a Record Store Day release.
I registered my interest in a Gold copy of the Nautilus 7″ single from Barts Record Store in Boulder; booked a buying appointment; showed up at the store at 8:15am and waited outside until my 8:35am slot, and Will let me in and asked what I was looking for, he shrugged and said “we never heard about that at all”. I left without buying anything.
Suffice to say, these are as rare as “hens teeth”. There were 1500 pressed, 500 in Gold for the US market; 500 clear for the Asia market; and 500 transparent yellow for Europe. They are selling new on ebay from about $35, the price was, directly after #RSD over $120. I got mine from a record store that was selling for $35 OBO. I suppose if the copies are being sold above list-price by record stores, that’s actually the whole point of Record Store Day, to support stores. The fact there were so few of these pressed that they were going way above price, is again OK, provided the stores are doing it rather than unscrupulous profiteers. Interestingly, one of the sellers is EVO, the publisher, for $23 +$6 P&P from Hong Kong.
In 1974, Bob released his first solo album titled “One”. The album featured a who’s who of notable jazz greats like Idris Muhammad, Jon Faddis, Grover Washington Jr, James Gadd, and more. The album also produced a few successful songs, like Bob’s version of Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Making Love”. Hidden at the very end of “One” was a largely overlooked filled track that would go on to impact a whole new generation a decade later. This song was “Nautilus”. Being sampled over 250 times in music. Nautilus made a huge impact on Hip Hop culture, going on to be sampled by living legends Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre, Run DMC. This is the first time this track is being released as a single on 7″ Vinyl. Side B holds an exclusive remix of the smooth jazz chart topping Submarine from his album Espresso.EVO, Evolution Music Group, 3/F Unit B, Ka Wing Building, 19-21 Ng Fong Street, San Po Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
What Do You Get?
My copy is #215/500. It came in a sealed plastic wrap and I’ve put a full set of pictures on the discogs entry. You can also see the main pictures in the YouTube video.
It’s a very good pressing. I have three copies of “Nautilus” on my home music streaming server. This appears to be the same 4:58(5:08) cut that is on all of them. A personally ripped copy of the EVO single pressing, as featured in the YouTube video, has clear and crisp high notes, the orchestration has depth, good bass. At least from my music server, it sounds as good as the CD copy of the track I have on Bob James “Rhodes Scholar” album, and slightly improved over the copy I have from Bob’s “One” album.
“Submarine”, is described as a remix on the EVO 7″ single. It’s definitely different, I’m not sure how much I’d call it a remix in the modern electronic music context. Again, it’s a great pressing though. My digital version, ripped from the EVO 7″/45 is much better. This could be more to do with my evolving skill/technique on ripping vinyl to digital than either the quality of the pressing, or the remix. It is though clear and crisp. It runs the same length as the original 2017 Espresso album cut. The remix is attributed to Ken Freeman, Sonny Abelardo, Sonny is also listed as producer, and gets a writing credit for “Submarine”. If you’ve been to a live concert featuring Bob, Sonny can often been seen scurrying around. Compare the versions using the two videos.
If anyone from EVO reads this, and wants to let me have the stems for Submarine, I’d love to work on it and return it without posting online anywhere, without prior agreement.
Nautilus: Probably the king of samples, Bob James has spoken a number of times about it’s use in samples, especially hip-hop. The most familiar of which will often be DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince -“Jazzy’s Groove“. As well as Bob’s keyboard, often used is a loop of Steve Gadd’s drum rhythm.
Submarine: – Isn’t known to have any covers, but is listed as a cover of Nautilus. I wonder how the licensing works out for that?
Covers: There five cover versions of Nautilus, most of which are really not very good. If you like 130 BPM Latin/Disco, the cover by Sexteto Excelencio from their 2011 album “Black Feeling 2” might float your boat. There also seem to be a number of unrecognized uses floating around, including the 2010 track Blundetto on Heavenly Sweetness label out of the UK, which overlays a reggae beat over what appears to be a slowed down copy of Nautilus. Also 2016 issue by Pat Van Dyke – Nautilus. a not very adventurous cover, but does replace James keyboard with an (electronic?)horn section. I’m sure there are others.
If you are a Bob James completist, or just need a quality copy of Nautilus, either to play at home, or in vinyl dj sets, it’s worth searching this out. Note though, if you just want a digital copy, to put in mixes etc. amazon, at least here in the US, will sell you MP3 version of the whole “One” album, including “Nautilus” for just $5.43.