Monday, 24 December 2018

DnB Advent Calendar: Day 24

Dread & The Bald Head - Twenty Four Seven (Slam! Records, 1995)

The price of second hand vinyl for collectors of 90s DnB and Jungle has rapidly escalated over the last few years with sellers sometimes demanding amounts several times the original value. The original of this 12", with 'Wicked Piece A Tune' on the A-Side, is one example of this trend with prices reaching over £150. In fact back in 2015 it was included in a list of the ten most expensive Jungle records on the planet by Drum&BassArena.

Fortunately earlier this year Bizzy B AKA one half of Dread & The Bald Head launched a Kickstarter campaign to repress these two much sought after Jungle classics and received enough backers to go ahead with the project. The other half of the duo is TDK AKA The Urban Dread, who has frequently collaborated with Bizzy B while also acting as his MC. 'Twenty Four Seven' prominently features the smooth grooves and vocals of 'You Can't Turn Me Away' by Sylvia Striplin, a much sampled track in Hip-Hop/RnB with examples including 'Get Money' by Junior M.A.F.I.A. feat. The Notorious B.I.G. and a cover entitled 'Turn Me Away (Get Munny)' by Erykah Badu. Here it appears with slowed down drums in the intro along with the Think break before the drop brings in crashing Amen and a muscular bassline. Various soundclash style vocals adorn the tune including the title giving "Twenty four seven...". A proper slice of rudeboy Jungle that is a must have for the collection.

At the time of writing you can still purchase the vinyl over at Bizzy B's Bandcamp, as well as the digital, while a VIP is available over at his Junglist Download site. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a little Christmas present. I hope you've enjoyed checking the DnB Advent Calendar, we will be taking a well earned break and will hopefully be back in 2019. DnB three sixty five, twenty four seven! Merry Christmas!

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Sunday, 23 December 2018

DnB Advent Calendar: Day 23

Project 23 - Pleasure And The Pain (Peshay Remix) (Dorado, 1996)

Cleveland Watkiss is a name familiar to DnB fans for his performances as an MC, particularly for his appearances at Goldie's Sunday Sessions at the Blue Note. But Watkiss is no ordinary MC as he sings rather than chats, his smooth powerful vocals always elevating the vibe. As Peshay put it "he always complemented the music, never got in the way". His main background is in jazz, being part of the influential Jazz Warriors big band with Courtney Pine back in the eighties and winning multiple awards in the field including Best Vocalist at the London Jazz Awards in 2010. In the New Years Honours in 2018 he was awarded an MBE.

After appearing on Goldie's Timeless LP it was inevitable he'd feel the urge to make drum & bass himself and Project 23 was a group he formed with renowned jazz drummer Marque Gilmore "The Inna Most" and DJ La Rouge. They would get back from nights at Speed and be inspired to create their own take on the sound and the album 23 was the result. It was critically acclaimed with Mixmag stating "this is Drum n’ Bass that will progress, that will access new audiences. This is the future". What really set them apart though was being the first act to play Drum & Bass live. Neil Spencer writing in The Observer commented: "Seeking to reproduce the results [of 23] live would be impossible without the awesome talents of jazz drummer Marque Gilmore". Unfortunately Project 23 was short lived due to some issues Watkiss had at the time, so didn't have the impact they could've had and it was Roni Size's Reprazent who ended up winning awards as a live drum & bass act. However Project 23 recently reformed and you can check out a short video of their performance at Oslo Hackney here.

While the original of 'Pleasure And The Pain' is good I just absolutely love the Peshay Remix that featured on a 12" single from the album. Over sweeping pads and saxophone Peshay overlays Watkiss' soulful vocals along with the Hot Pants break and warm bass. Midway through he changes the drums up for an extended workout that just glides blissfully along. You can hear Peshay and Watkiss together at the Blue Note from January 1997 below:

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Saturday, 22 December 2018

DnB Advent Calendar: Day 22

Uncle 22 - Your Love (Strictly Underground Records, 1994)

I nearly posted about Uncle 22 AKA Desmond Fearon back on day six of the DnB Advent Calendar with probably his best known track, '6 Million Ways To Die - Choose One', but then thought I'd save featuring him for today. Fearon was co-owner of the De Underground record store in Forest Gate and also resident engineer in the studio upstairs along with Cool Hand Flex, who he recorded with as Flex & Uncle and Dubwise II. He had a track on the original EP that featured Lennie De Ice's proto-jungle anthem 'We Are i.e.' so was there right at beginning of jungle. In fact he'd already had an album of acid house released back in 1989.

'Your Love' came out on Mark "Ruff" Ryder's Strictly Underground imprint. The mix of the tune above is actually Ryder's Funky Jungle Mix on the flip as I couldn't find the other mix on YouTube but you can hear audio of it over at Rolldabeats. The mixes aren't significantly different though with both featuring a vocal sample from Michael Prophet & Ricky Tuffy's 'Your Love': "Your love is all I want baby, your love is all I need... phenomenon one" while Ryder's mix also adds Mad P's exclamations of "Jungle" from Top Buzz's set at Amnesia House's The Book Of Love event in June '92, sampled more extensively on DJ Taktix's 'The Way'. The vocals are combined with tearing Amen, a tough bassline, rapid fire hardcore synth stabs and sinister pads for an absolutely slamming tune.

Strictly Underground were a label who put out loads of compilations and you can find Ryder's mix of 'Your Love' on Hardcore Junglistic Fever Vol. 2. As well as the unmixed tune on the first disc it also leads off the first Megamix on the second disc from Randall with GQ on the mic. You can check that out below:

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