Back in 1990, it didn’t seem overly crazy that MC Tunes and 808 State would sample the bassline from The Stone Roses’ “I Am The Resurrection” for summer hit “Tunes Splits The Atom”. All were Manchester acts and you’d assume that an agreement had been reached between legal parties prior to recording. However, this being Manchester, permission had only been granted vocally at an actual party – the Haçienda.
At the time, The Stone Roses were one of the biggest bands in the world. Although bassist Mani freely admitted that most of his own basslines were borrowed from a variety of sources, it was MC Tunes and 808 State who’d feel the wrath of lawyers on “Tunes Splits The Atom”. The Stone Roses’ management claimed 50 per cent of royalties.
“Usually I’ll pinch a bassline from someone else’s song,” Mani said in Front magazine in 2002. “Music, it’s finite, yer know what I mean? There’s only so many chords and progressions you can use. For years, I was trying to nick ‘I Want You Back’ by The Jackson 5 to go in a Stone Roses song. I can play it, but I couldn’t change it enough, so we left it. But I’ve got away with some beauties. So Tunes asked me in the Haçienda, and I said, ‘No, I don’t want no money for it, do it,’ just to give him a hand, because it’s not about money, d’yer know what I mean? I’ll never be rooting in a skip for me tea, so I don’t have to be so mercenary that I have to chase people for 10p’s.”
Alas, the lawyers swooped and devoured, but “Tunes Splits The Atom”, with The Stone Roses’ sample, remains one of the most dizzy, fun and downright enjoyable dance records of all time, and the 12″ sleeve featuring Tunes and 808 State in a lab setting merely adds hundreds and thousands to an epic party trifle.
With his granite-hard, nuclear-powered delivery, MC Tunes should have become one of the world’s foremost rappers. Sadly the alignment of the planets didn’t work out in his favour at the start of the Nineties; then again, he’s still only 46, so there’s plenty of time yet. What about the Eurovision Song Contest?