“Footsteps In The Dark” by The Isley Brothers (1977)

“Footsteps In The Dark” has an intriguing title, a rock-solid drum part (provided by Ernie Isley) and a unique guitar riff (also provided by Ernie Isley) that pitches this Isley Brothers track just about smack dab in the middle of the rock/soul fusion they pioneered with their “3 + 3” lineup in the ’70s. It’s maybe just a bit too “hard” for the quiet storm, know what I’m saying?

I remember being a teenager and plowing through the endless stacks of 45s left behind by my aunts and uncles, looking for instrumentals that I could give my “aspiring rapper” friends. Flipping over the 45 of “Groove With You”, one of my all-time favorite Isley songs, I discovered “Footsteps”. The first few seconds of the song blew my teenage mind and I remember wondering “why hasn’t a rapper used this beat yet?” Boy, I popped that baby on a tape and gave it to my buddy Mike at school the next day. And then I bugged him the day after that to make sure he’d heard it.

Couldn’t have been more than three months later, Ice Cube’s The Predator came out. As many of you now know, Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” is based around a sample of “Footsteps In The Dark”. It also went on to become Cube’s best known song (and will itself appear later on this blog).

I’ll have you know, I thought of using “Footsteps” as sample material first

¹-This is absolutely not true. Not only was “It Was A Good Day” probably conceived and recorded by the time I discovered “Footsteps”, it had already been sampled on a bunch of other rap records that I wasn’t at the time familiar with. Ah, well.

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