Saturday, December 12, 2009

Take the Bait

Ah, "Bait." What made Kool DJ Red Alert's mixed compilation albums so desirable were the exclusive promo songs by Bizzie Boyz, Total Control, DJ Premiere, King AmperRock, etc. And at the pinnacle of that impressive pile is The Ultramagnetic MC's tribute song, "Bait."

Straight from his radio show to his Red Alert Goes Beserk album (the first in his series), Red Alert had a killer jam on his hands. In 1987, the Ultramagnetics were fresh and exciting new artists at the top of their game. Their crazy flows ("on the mix, Red Alert, controlled by gamma light") and raw-as-fuck scratching laid over Bob James' classic "Nautilus" break. Everybody wanted to know where they could get this record. But they couldn't.

Neither Ultra's label, Next Plateau Records (which also put out Red's comps) nor Red's own label Let's Go saw fit to release this gem to the masses. Rumors still float around, and if you want to make a collector hump your leg, you can tell him you've seen a dusty old test pressing someplace... but it never happened. The best heads were going to get was the mixed version on Red's compilation album.

But it's not just the fact that this wasn't released without radio blends and some chatter on it. The album version was missing a whole verse and more! If you listen closely, you can hear a bit of human beat-boxing on the track... well, if you'd heard the complete version on the radio, you knew there was more of that (provided by none other than Greg Nice himself) and a second verse from Ced Gee!

It wasn't until 1997 that we'd heads would get their chance. Rock & roll label Roadrunner Records pressed up a limited (200 copies) run of 7" singles that featured the Red Alert Goes Beserk version of "Bait" on one side, and the extended version on the B-side. It was only given away when you purchased a full set of Ultramagnetic repress 12"s. Needless to say, they're pretty sought after and hard to come by.

That same year, Next Plateau put out an Ultramagnetic MCs compilation album called The B-Sides Companion, which featured all of their rare 12" B-sides (of which their were many), a new Ultra song or two, and "Bait!" Unfortunately, all of the songs were remixed and, well, basically ruined. It's got a lot of live instrumentation by William "Spaceman" Patterson and, yeah. Not much more to be said about that. It's a collection for completists only.

Eventually, "Bait (Original 12" Version)" (I don't know what 12" they're referring to... but this is the full-length version with the fourth verse intact) was included as a bonus track on a remastered rerelease of Ultra's debut album from 1988, Critical Beatdown. Now, this album has been repressed and reissued a number of times... once in 1997, once in 2001... but the one with "Bait" is the 2004 repressing. It's CD only, I believe, but what can you expect?

Most recently, in 2009, there was the release you see pictured above (yeah, we've finally gotten to it). It's a bootleg 45. The label claims it's "Bait" on both sides, but in actually, side A is the shorter version of "Bait" from Red's album, and side B is "Funky" (an Ultramagnetic song that was released on 12" in 1987... a remix of which was included on Critical Beatdown; but this is the remix that was only on the 12" single). It's made to look like it came out on Let's Go Records, and it's dated 1987, but of course that's all phony bologna.

Still, unless you're one of the lucky 200 who scored that 1997 release, or you've stolen some kind of epically coveted acetate from Red Alert's well-guarded stash, this is probably your only opportunity to own it on vinyl (well... except for the Red Alert LP, which - sense this is the shortened version on here anyway - is just as valid). It's pretty common and inexpensive. That's why I got it. (shrug)


  1. Ahh man. I remember clearly hearing
    this played on Red Alert. I always
    looked for it and wondered if it
    was a test press or what.
    Thanks for clearing that up.

    Besides that "B Sides Companion", I remember also copping a few other comps around then. Like "Mo Loves Basement Tapes" and "The Basement Tapes". The latter being on Tuff City. And I remember Kool Keith saying at the end of one of his songs to not buy Tuff City records and saying "Tuff titty".:)

    Have you ever tried a post to sort
    out all of those bootleg type comps? I know doing a complete Ultra discography, including bootlegs, and explaining who put what out and who had beef with what, would prove near impossible.
    But if anyone could do that, it would be you, Werner.


  2. That's a good idea... Need to update my Ultra discography pages anyway... and combining that with a blog (or two) about the Tuff City "bootlegs" etc would be cool. I like that. I've got some other posts in mind coming up first; but your idea is definitely gonna happen. :)