Saturday, 31 August 2013
Blackstreet - No Diggity (Urban Takeover Remix) (White, 1997)
The 'No Diggity' remix by DJ SS that I mentioned yesterday was somewhat overshadowed by this one from Micky Finn and Aphrodite AKA Urban Takeover. I'm not much of an R'n'B fan but the Blackstreet original with its Bill Withers sampling beat and Dr Dre appearance was inescapable back in '96. The Urban Takeover Remix was supposedly going to get an official release on the follow up single but Blackstreet's Teddy Riley then decided to attempt his own "Jungle Mix" so it came out on a white label instead.
It uses a substantial portion of the original track including the 'Grandma's Hands' sample, piano and vocals, although not any of the rapping except for Dr Dre's "Still moving this flavour / With the homies Blackstreet and Teddy / The original rump shakers" line. To this Micky Finn & Aphrodite add their standard two-step drums and bouncy bassline but it's a particularly effective combination and makes for a great track to DJ with as the "Yeah" and "Uh" vocals during the intro are custom made for cutting to in the mix. This white label really made the pair's name outside of the drum and bass scene and led to remixes for the likes of the Jungle Brothers and Alabama 3, in the process raising the profile of drum and bass worldwide.
It has just been included in DJ Mag's Top 100 most important drum & bass tunes list and you can check out the whole playlist out below:
Friday, 30 August 2013
Fugees - Killing Me Softly (DJ SS Remix) (Swing/White, 1996)
While 'Fu-Gee-La' was the first single from Fugees' The Score album, it was second single 'Killing Me Softly' that really sent them stratospheric. The Roberta Flack cover combined Lauryn Hill's vocals with the beat from A Tribe Called Quest's 'Bonita Applebum' and was such a huge hit that in the UK it had to be deleted while still in the Top 20 to make way for 'Ready Or Not'. Inevitably there was also an unofficial drum and bass remix of the track, this one coming from DJ SS who actually samples the 'Sound Barrier Remix' which features Bounty Killer and has alternate lyrics:
"Strumming dubplates with our fingers
Eliminate sounds with our song
Killing a soundboy with this sound
Killing a soundboy with this sound
Taking soundboys' lives with this dub
Killing him softly with this sound"
These vocals come in acapella before the drop along with Bounty Killer's interjections and the "soundboy" and "dubplate" references certainly suit drum and bass more than the original lyrics. The track is in the hardstep style and has a hefty torpedoing bassline with drums that start off with the 'Sing A Simple Song' break (which I swear is taken straight off Origin Unknown's 'Woo Hah!!' remix - listen out for the same hum underneath) before adding the Amen and Tighten Up breaks. Hill's manipulated vocals float like a ghostly presence over the top and are complemented by haunting piano and other effects. The record suffers from being badly pressed though, a common problem with white labels, so it sounds a bit rough in the mix.
The flipside features DJ SS's take on Blackstreet's 'No Diggity', check that one out below:
Thursday, 29 August 2013
Fugees - Fu-Gee-La (Krome & Time Remix) (White Label, 1996)
In 1996 Krome & Time set up a sub-label of Tearin Vinyl called Da Hood. Most of the releases didn't feature details about the artist or even track titles and were laden with hip-hop samples. 'Volume 1 Side A' featured vocals from two Fugees tracks: 'How Many Mics' ("One got slaughtered as he coughed blood from his mouth / The other tried to duck and caught a left with my Guiness Stout") and 'Fu-Gee-La' ("Armageddon come you know we soon done / Gun by my side just in case I gotta rum", plus a bit of the chorus). Krome & Time also did this bootleg remix of the latter track.
It starts off with the 'Assembly Line' break (minus the "Huhs") and a cool jazz funk loop along with a sample from Das EFX's 'Real Hip Hop' featuring some of their trademark "iggedy" lyrics: "Let me crack a brew and kick my feet up / Turn the heat up and smiggedy smoke all the weed up". This line introduces Lauryn Hill's "Ooh La La La / It's the way that we rock when we're doing our thang" chorus from 'Fu-Gee-La' (which itself borrows from Teena Marie's 'Ooh La La La'). Unfortunately the vocals are out of key with the underlying loop but we quickly get to the drop which brings in a bassline that follows the melody of the chorus with drums that use the Think and Assembly Line breaks with some nice fills. A bit rough around the edges, but it does the job.
Also worth checking on this 12" is the untitled flipside which features some melancholy jazz samples and a fat bassline along with Inspectah Deck's "But as the world turned I learned life was hell / Living in the world no different from a cell" line from Wu-Tang Clan's 'C.R.E.A.M.':
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Fugees - Rumble In The Jungle (Special K Remix) (White, 1997)
After DJ Zinc's massive 'Ready Or Not' remix there was a flood of unofficial drum and bass versions of Fugees tracks. While it was generally known that the 'Ready Or Not' remix had come from the True Playaz camp, the producers of these white label bootlegs mostly remained anonymous to avoid any legal issues. I've seen this 'Rumble In The Jungle' remix credited to Mickey Finn & Hype but it doesn't resemble either of their styles and it was only recently I discovered it was actually done by Special K - with hindsight it certainly sounds like his brand of jump-up drum and bass.
The original of 'Rumble In The Jungle' appeared on the soundtrack to When We Were Kings, a documentary about Muhammad Ali's legendary 1974 fight with George Foreman in Zaire, and features A Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes. This is the first and hopefully only time I'm going to mention Swedish pop group ABBA on this blog, but a sample from the beginning of their 'The Name Of The Game' featured prominently on the original version and also opens Special K's remix over a hip-hop beat, although I have to admit it is a catchy loop. During an extended intro with vocals from Wyclef, Lauryn Hill, Forte and Busta Rhymes the remix also uses some piano from the original while adding g-funk style synth. Wyclef's "Root to the fruit, More bass (than Bootsy Collins)" line brings in the bassline which alternates between a sub troubling wobble and a squelchier sound over snare heavy drums that later add some filtered Hot Pants. These bootleg remixes were of variable quality but this is a decent effort from Special K and as an added bonus there was an instrumental version on the flip.
You can hear the track open Eazyflow's 1997 Jump-Up mix below. Head over to DnB Blog to read his DnB History Sessions piece on 96/97 jump-up where you can also download this mix as well as one that focuses on 1996 and includes 'Ready Or Not'.
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Aladdin - Summer Breeze (Aladdin, 1997)
With the UK getting a bit of late August sun over the past couple of days I thought I'd take the opportunity to write about this summery tune from Aladdin, the pairing of Aphrodite and Mark QED. I can't find much info on QED other than on the Urban Takeover website's profile where he's described as a "long haired hippy from Leyton". After QED appeared on Urban Shakedown's Do It Now! EP in 1992 the duo made a series of jungle/jump-up tunes from 1994 to 1997 including 'So Good' and 'Mash Up You Know', all released on the Aladdin sub-label of Aphrodite Recordings.
'Summer Breeze' was the last of their collaborations and is of course a cover of the classic seventies Seals & Crofts song that was popularised by the Isley Brothers. The airy intro features female vocals repeating the track's chorus ("Summer breeze makes me feel fine / Blowing through the jasmine in my mind") before a drum roll leads into a typical Aphrodite jump-up tune with an elastic bassline and snare heavy drums. Further vocals appear regularly throughout so although it doesn't stray too far from Aphrodite's formula it makes a change from his usual hip-hop sampling fare.
The track featured on the Aphrodite label compilation and was later re-released as a single after being included on his self-titled album for V2 in 2000. Although you can purchase the track from Beatport it is available to download for free from Aphrodite's Soundcloud above in the AIFF format. If you find the vocals a bit too much check out the 'Summer Dub' that appeared on the flip:
Monday, 26 August 2013
Max de Castro - Carnaval (DJ Patife Remix) (V Recordings, 2001)
Over the past few days I've been looking at jungle tunes featuring the vocal talents of Top Cat, tracks that are perfect for the hustle and bustle of the Notting Hill Carnival. My Monday Retrospect column for DnB Blog today completes the series with a look at DMS & The Boneman X's jungle classic 'Sweet Vibrations'. In contrast this DJ Patife remix from the landmark Brasil EP is ideal for winding down after a hectic day on the streets of West London.
The original, entitled 'Pra Você Lembrar' ("For You To Remember" according to Google), is a piece of modern downtempo soul which appeared on Max de Castro's Samba Raro album for Trama, the label that co-released the Brasil EP. The lyrics are about trying to rekindle a carnival romance ("This brunette left me dreaming...") and the song has a nostalgic feel to it. Patife keeps things simple for his remix, taking the central piano melody and 'Summer Madness' recalling ARP synth as well as some of the vocals while substituting the R'n'B style beat for some straight forward two-step and adding a warm bassline and strings. It rolls along in a relaxed, lazy fashion until the five and a half minute mark when a more stomping beat is introduced to give the track a jolt of energy. A tune that brings back good a lot of good memories.
The Brasil EP also included DJ Marky's take on Max de Castro's 'Samba Raro' and you can check that out below for more summertime vibes:
Sunday, 25 August 2013
Blackstar feat. Top Cat - Champion DJ (Blue Print Mix) (Congo Natty, 1995)
No discussion of Top Cat's impact on jungle would be complete without a look at his work with with Congo Natty. He has provided vocals on massive tracks such as 'His Imperial Majesty', 'Original Ses' and most recently 'UK Allstars' but 'Champion DJ' is the biggest one of the lot. Although there are a number of remixes the original 'Blue Print Mix' remains the best version.
It opens with a reggae track being rewound before Top Cat's vocals come in over Larry Marshall's 'Throw Me Corn' riddim (also used in the breakdown of Hype's 'Roll The Beats'): "Lord a mercy I, Tell em it's a cat a number one DJ...". The track then explodes with the introduction of sirens, bass and a second generation Hot Pants break featuring high pitched squeaks taken from Big Daddy Kane's 'Raw'. Dave and Ansell Collins' 'Stalag 17' riddim and the Cold Sweat break are also dropped in at points before the mid-track breakdown brings soundclash vocals such as "Lock off yuh bloodclart" from the Saxon Sound Vs Addies clash in Bermuda '94 and the replayed melody from 'Kunta Kinte' by The Revolutionaries. A jungle anthem guaranteed to get the crowd going - if you're off to the Notting Hill Carnival today or tomorrow get yourself to the CMC Matrix Sound System on All Saints Road where this one's sure to get dropped at some point.
You can find the track on Top Cat's Champion Deejay compilation along with the Shy FX remix which is available to download at Drum&BassArena and Beatport. Also check out North Base's Strictly Jungle mix for Kmag which closes with the tune.
Saturday, 24 August 2013
Potential Bad Boy - Brok Wild (Ibiza Records, 1994)
After looking at DJ Gunshot's 'Wheel 'N' Deal' yesterday, here's another ragga jungle tune that samples Top Cat's 'Request The Style'. Paul Chambers AKA Paul Ibiza established Ibiza Records in the early nineties and also produced under various names as well as promoting events. The label was pivotal in the development of the jungle sound and was among the first to bring the reggae influence to the music.
Paul Ibiza co-produced 'Brok Wild' and like 'Wheel 'N' Deal' the tune opens with Top Cat's "Special request fi the gyal dem from north, south, east and west / For the body ah look good you know y'haffi God bless, Brockwild!" vocals, dub sirens and the "Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey"s from Capleton's 'Everybody'. Over the Hot Pants break a sweet soul sample from Barry White's 'September When I First Met You' comes in while Top Cat's "Request the Style" vocals are pitched down. A lively dancehall style bassline is then introduced along with the Soul Pride break before ambient synths and bleeps calm things down a bit with the Think break used as well. The track also features the vocals of Junior Dangerous, an MC who has worked with Potential Bad Boy a number of times over the years, most recently in 2011 on Lock Em Off / The Real. I love jungle tracks that combine soul and rare groove with ragga so this tune really does it for me.
'Brok Wild' features on Jungle Mania 2 (as 'Brockwild' and credited to Ibiza), although in edited form. You can hear it in DJ Raw's excellent 'Junglist For Life' mix below along with cuts from the likes of DJ Nut Nut & Pure Science, Dillinja and Desired State.
Friday, 23 August 2013
DJ Gunshot - Wheel 'N' Deal (No U-Turn, 1994)
One of Top Cat's best known tracks is the excellent 'Request The Style', a 1993 release on Fashion Records. The 12" included an acapella and consequently the vocals been heavily sampled over the years with the best known instance being the vocal version of Double 99's speed garage anthem 'Ripgroove', while they also pop up in the recent Special Request VIP of Tessela's 'Hackney Parrot'. Jungle artists got there first of course and this track from DJ Gunshot AKA Godfrey Gummer is a prime example, a rare dancehall and r'n'b sampling jungle tune on No U-Turn which was co-written and produced by Nico.
It's actually a remix of the earlier 'Wheel Up' but is the best known version of the track. It opens with the much sampled "Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey" from Capleton's 'Everybody' before Top Cat's "Special request fi the gyal dem from north, south, east and west / For the body ah look good you know y'haffi God bless..." vocals come in. Some layered and chopped Think follows with snippets of Top Cat's vocals before Gunshot samples Mary J Blige's 'Sweet Thing', her cover of the Rufus & Chaka Khan classic: "You're my heat, you are my fire. You're not mine, I can't deny it. Don't you hear me talking baby. Love me now or I'll go crazy". This brings in some heavy Amen and subsequently a particularly memorable bassline which really sets it apart from the original. I also particularly like the half-speed Think section in the middle with Blige's stuttered vocals over the top. The 'Marble Mix' on the flip gets rid of the Amen and emphasises the 'Sweet Thing' vocals a bit more, not quite a match for the A Side but a nice alternative.
Check out this tearing remix of 'Wheel Up' by Tim Reaper which is a free download:
Thursday, 22 August 2013
Top Cat - Ruffest Gunark (DJ Rap Remix) (Jungle Fashion Records, 1994)
With the Notting Hill Carnival fast approaching it's the ideal time to take a look at the work of Top Cat, the UK dancehall deejay who embraced jungle in 1993. Born Anthony Codrington, Top Cat came up on various soundsystems in the eighties including Sir Coxsone and had his first hit with 'Love Mi Sess' in 1989. With his music being sampled by numerous jungle artists, Top Cat started his own 9 Lives label in 1993 to release remixes of his tracks while also allowing his vocals to be used on tunes such as 'Special Dedication' and DMS & The Boneman X's 'Sweet Vibrations'.
Fashion Records with whom he was signed also saw jungle's potential and established the Jungle Fashion label in 1994 with the release of Rumble In The Jungle Volume One which saw various artists remixing Top Cat and General Levy tracks. DJ Rap's take on 'Ruffest Gunark' is one of the highlights of the album, adding the Hot Pants and Think breaks to the original's 'Under Me Sleng Teng' style bassline and Top Cat's "We are the ruffest gunark from outta Southwark / Any boy test we have to draw a gun fast" vocals (a gunark is apparently someone who owns many different types of gun, the name deriving from Noah's Ark as he had many different species on board). The remix was later released on a 12" and also appeared on DJ Rap's Propa Classics reissue series. Another essential '94 ragga jungle tune.
In 2010 Top Cat released the Champion Deejay compilation with remixes from the likes of Marcus Visionary, Serial Killaz and Serum. Alongside a new Chase & Status remix of 'Ruffest Gunark' the album also included DJ Rap's mix and you can download it at Drum&BassArena, Beatport, Juno Download and all good digital retailers. Check out this Top Cat interview on Manchester's Unity Radio 92.8FM from May last year:
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
DJ Nut Nut - Special Dedication (Ladies Mix) (Hard Step Records, 1994)
Given the later use of the term "hardstep" it is somewhat ironic that the only release on Grooverider's Hard Step Records was a ragga jungle tune. DJ Nut Nut was Nana Ansong, a young DJ and producer who released material on several labels in '93/'94 including Production House and Rough Tone while also doing shows on the Essex pirate Sweet FM 101.6. After a few years hiatus he briefly reappeared on True Playaz with a 12" and a track on the Real Vibes LP before disappearing again.
'Special Dedication' is one of those classic jungle tunes that everyone knows. It opens with deep pulsing synths along with a sample of David Rodigan from the beginning of a clash with Waggy T at the Mahi Temple, Miami on the 6th February 1993:
"Tonight, you are going to hear music you never heard before. Tonight you are going to hear the most cantankerous, roughneck, poisonous dubplates you ever heard!"
Hear these words in their original context here, they appear at around 2:11. The exclamation is the cue for Think/Sesame Street drums and a wicked bassline to come in. The other vocal samples on the track all come from Fashion Records releases, with Top Cat and Frankie Paul being credited as featured artists on the 12" although it's Poison Chang whose vocals appear next, taken from the beginning of 'Over Yu Body'. Top Cat's opening lines from 'Gallist' are what the track is best remembered for though: ""Phenomenomenon one, Special dedication to all the woman...", with Nut Nut adding some soulful vocals from Frankie Paul's 'The Kissing Game' to complement them while spacey synths in the second half add further depth. As Rodgian would put it, a cantankerous and roughneck tune.
Jungle Mania 2 included a VIP of 'Special Dedication' which used different Rodigan vocals from the Waggy T clash ("Okay, showtime now special request... You see tonight is going to be a night of musical pleasure") and replaced the Think/Sesame Street breaks with the Amen - check it out below. You can also get the original of 'Special Dedication' from Drum&BassArena and Beatport thanks to its inclusion on a recent Sigma remix. Head over to Hard Noyz where you can stream or download a rare tape recording of a DJ Nut Nut set on Sweet FM with Mad Ragga Jon and SLB from 1994.
Tuesday, 20 August 2013
MA2 - Hearing Is Believing (Formation Records, 1994)
"Hardstep" is one of those vague terms that seems to mean different things to different people. I've generally taken it as referring to the more dancefloor orientated drum and bass that developed during the mid-nineties as producers moved away from ragga jungle. More streamlined breaks, hefty basslines and hip-hop/r'n'b samples tended to characterise hardstep tunes while other elements were stripped back. I have a flyer for a Formation Records event from November 1995 that states that they're "changing the music policy to strictly hardstepping drum & bass jungle. No ragga jungle!!! You've been warned".
DJ SS's 'Hearing Is Believing' could be considered an early example of a hardstep track. It opens with timestretched drums before the Hot Pants and Sesame Street breaks come in. A "Now hear this!" vocal, sampled from a live version of Dennis Brown's 'Queen Majesty', introduces a trademark SS bassline heavy on distortion. Some low in the mix Amen is judiciously deployed as the track develops while obscured vocals from Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' ("If I should stay... I will always be in your way") lead into the breakdown's ambient synths. The horn fanfare that appears towards the end of the track would go on feature in the intro of the 1995 remix which also replaced Whitney with Brandy. Ultimately terms like "hardstep" don't really matter, this is just a great track that should be played as loud as possible.
'Hearing Is Believing' appears on the 'Hardstep Pimp Mix' by Grooverider, a studio mix from 1995 which you can download over at hardscore.com.
Monday, 19 August 2013
DJ Rap - Hardstep (Proper Talent, 1996)
My Monday Retrospect piece at DnB Blog this week is on 'Spiritual Aura' by Engineers Without Fears AKA DJ Rap & Aston. I didn't get a copy of this one on 12" until it was repressed in 2001 on the Propa Classics reissue series. The first DJ Rap record I got my hands on at the time of its release was the appropriately titled 'Hardstep' on her own Proper Talent label.
DJ Rap, real name Charissa Saverio, first got into DJing after seeing Dem 2 spin at a party in the late eighties. Finding success with early releases such as '(We Are) The Adored' (as Ambience with producer Jeff B) and 'Divine Rhythm' she secured shows on Rave FM and Fantasy FM as well as getting increasingly prominent DJing gigs. After the release of 'Spiritual Aura' she managed to get a loan from Vinyl Distribution to set up her own label and Proper Talent was born.
Like 'Spiritual Aura', 'Hardstep' is a tune that balances the rough with the smooth, opening with synthetic strings and angelic vocals ("Just maybe...") over drums built around the Life Could break and cowbell. This section comes to an abrupt end though when a vocal repeats "Yo fuck that shit, I'm hardsteppin..." over a drum roll, bringing in a powerful bassline that's the aural equivalent of being repeatedly punched in the gut. The bass only pauses a couple of times for an elongated and stuttered "hardstep" vocal before the strings and vocals from the start return to close the track out. Superb stuff from the first lady of drum and bass.
'Hardstep' was included on the Propa Classics Volume 1 album in 2001. You can hear it among several other Rap productions in her mix for One In The Jungle, broadcast on 12th July 1996:
Sunday, 18 August 2013
Digital - Gateman (Phantom Audio, 2001)
If you checked out Influx Datum's remix of 'This Feeling' that I mentioned yesterday you may have noticed the great steppers break they used on it. It's taken from 'You're Getting A Little Too Smart' by the Detroit Emeralds and has been sampled in tons of hip-hop tracks such as Raekwon's 'Incarcerated Scarfaces' and Common's 'The Light'. For me though it always instantly recalls Digital's awe-inspiring 'Gateman', released on Phantom Audio's Special Edition series in 2001.
The break is the backbone of the track, opening it and running for the majority of its length. Dread-filled and drenched in reverb, 'Gateman' has the most heavyweight of basslines, an immense rumbling that deserves to be heard on a good system. A brief vocal is repeated throughout the track although exactly what it says is unclear, my best guess being "all scatter". The bleeps coalesce into something resembling a melody during the mid-track breakdown before the beats and bass return to batter you into submission. Dub for the 21st century.
Keaton provided an excellent remix of 'Gateman' in 2003, adding some Amen and nasty reese. The original mix was included on Digital's Spacefunk: The Archives 1995 - 2008 which is available from Drum&BassArena, Beatport and most other digital outlets. You can also hear it in Nolige's All Digital, Spirit & Total Science Mix Part 1 here. Phantom Audio returned earlier this year after a lengthy hiatus and the next release was recently played on Bailey's show on Ministry of Sound Radio:
UPDATE: Thanks to Executive Steve for alerting me about a recent post by Digital on Instagram/Facebook in which he reveals the sample source for that vocal and exactly what it says:
"The vocal is taken from a track called GATEMAN by RANKING DREAD on BODY MUSIC which was a label based in London. (The lyrics are adapted) To cut a long story short… The song talks about a man having trouble with the GATEMAN (or doorman) at a club he wants to go in along with his girlfriend. After a bit of a scuffle a load of door money got scattered all over the place. He sings, “One punch mi giyim in a him bumpy old face, a whole leep a money DON SCATTA ova di place.” So the vocal is Don Scatta, nothing but I thought it went well with the vibe of the track…"
Check out Ranking Dread's 'Gateman' below, the relevant section starts at 2:48:
Saturday, 17 August 2013
Blue Sonix - This Feeling (High Contrast Remix) (Phuturistic Bluez Recordings, 2002)
The Worm break is also suited to liquid funk productions thanks to its crisp snare and cowbell combination and this High Contrast remix of 'This Feeling' by Blue Sonix is a great example. The man behind Blue Sonix was Rikki Blue, a Buenos Aires, Argentina born producer who moved to the UK while very young. After being involved in the Lighter VIP Mix Blue Sonix debuted on DJ SS's New Identity label in 1997, putting out tunes such as 'Disco'. Releases on Creative Source, Defunked and Phuturistic Bluez followed and the original mix of 'This Feeling' in 2000 showed his background as a keyboard player with acoustic piano and rhodes licks.
High Contrast provided a huge remix of the track in 2002, the full title being the Ultramaximized Disco Dub Mix which should give you a fair idea of how it sounds. It opens with an autotuned "I love this feeling" vocal which is then looped to hypnotic effect while lush filtered horns swell around it and layered drums using the Worm break drive the track forward towards the introduction of a deep, throbbing bassline. Adorned with funky guitar licks and gorgeous strings, it's a smooth and expansive track that exemplifies High Contrast's sound.
It was included on a two disc retrospective of High Contrast's best singles and remixes entitled Confidential in 2009 which is available directly from Hospital here. The flipside of the 'This Feeling' remixes had a more laid back take from Influx Datum which you can check out below:
Friday, 16 August 2013
Shy FX - Pandora's Box (Ebony Recordings, 1998)
A couple of tracks I wrote about earlier this week, 'Lifecrisis' and the Matrix remix of 'Medicine', both feature the Worm break. This classic break is taken from Jimmy McGriff's funky 1968 track 'The Worm' and is played by either Mel Lewis or Grady Tate - apparently McGriff alternated drummers on the album and I'm not certain who played on the recording. A great early use of it was the Chemical's Brothers' 'Chemical Beats' in 1994 while Origin Unknown introduced it to drum & bass on 'Truly One'.
It was a favourite of Ed Rush & Optical but it's a break that also suits more laid back tunes such as this one from Shy FX. The track's title derives from Greek myth - Pandora was the first woman on Earth and couldn't resist opening a box that the Gods had explicitly told her not to. From the box sprung hate, disease, envy and all the negative things that had previously been absent from the world, although hope was also inside. It's not a title that really suits the track as it emanates nothing but positive vibes, even featuring the distant sound of children playing in the park. The Worm break, jazzy keys, a funky bassline and snippets of trumpet and guitar combine to create an idyllic, rolling tune that is one of Shy FX's most underrated.
Shy FX gave 'Pandora's Box' an update of sorts with 'Plastic Soul' in 2005 which liberally borrows from Michael Jackson's 'I Can't Help It' while the track sounds like it also inspired DJ Fresh's 'All That Jazz'. A great tune for MCs you can hear it given an extended rollout as the final tune in Jumping Jack Frost's set at the One Nation Valentine's Experience Part 5 with Det and Skibba on the mic:
Thursday, 15 August 2013
Desired State - Beyond Bass (RAM Records, 1993)
I recently realised I hadn't covered RAM Records nearly enough on this blog so I'm going to take steps to rectify the situation over the next few months. Desired State was another alias of Andy C and Ant Miles and was actually the first name they recorded under, dating back to 1991 before RAM Records even existed. 'Beyond Bass' was released in 1993 and is an excellent example of RAM's early advancement of the jungle sound.
It opens with metallic noises zipping up and down before hits of bass and the "Give it to me baby" vocal from Humanoid's 'Cry Baby' enter - this vocal and the later harp sample also both appear in 'Killer Beat' on the other side. The track has a low moody bassline but, as the "Annihilating Rhythm" vocal sample suggests, the focus is on the Amen break which also regularly appears half-speed underneath. The deep voiced vocal that the track is well known for is sampled off of Grace Jones' 'Operattack' and is actually the actor Ian McShane (Lovejoy!) reading extracts from Ian Penman's "The Annihilation of Rhythm" essay from the sleeve notes to Jones' Slave To The Rhythm album. While the majority of 'Beyond Bass' is full of unsettling sounds the breakdown brings in some blissful synths to bring a bit of light to the gloom. Well ahead of its time.
The track is available on Breakdown's Drum & Bass Selection 1 and DJ Box Vol. 1 compilations. Desired State remixed the track themselves the following year and you can hear that version in Law's excellent Alternative History of RAM Records mix below - head here to grab the download.
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Danny Breaks - G's Up Ho's Down (Droppin Science, 1993)
Writing about the unreleased version of 'Mindscan' yesterday reminded me of a recent discussion over at the RDB forums about the dubplate mix of Danny Breaks' 'G's Up Ho's Down'. The released version, otherwise known as Vol. 1 Side aa but commonly referred to by its run-out etching like the flipside, switched the Amen/Apache drums for a break from Pascal Gabriel's Dance Samples CD.
It's a sample-packed track, opening with some serene kalimba and flute from Earth, Wind & Fire's 'Africano' topped with the "Ah Haahh" vocal from A Guy Called Gerald's 'Voodoo Ray' and the familiar bird chirps found on dozens of rave tunes. The cymbal-heavy Pascal Gabriel break then comes in which is later joined by drops of aqueous synth. The euphoric breakdown brings in the synth pads from the beginning of Grace Jones' 'Slave To The Rhythm' along with the "I love you baby" vocal from Kym Mazelle's 'Useless' (also used on several other tunes including Anticappella's 2√231). Later the break gets chopped up more and there's a further flute sample from 'Africano'. Gorgeous stuff from the ever versatile Mr Breaks.
The Amen mix was played a lot by LTJ Bukem and does flow a bit better, hopefully it might see the light of day if Danny Breaks puts out material from his stock of unreleased DATs. You can hear Bukem play the dubplate version in his set at Quest, Wolverhampton on 25th September 1993:
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
Ram Trilogy - Mindscan (Ed Rush & Optical Remix) (RAM Records, 1999)
After Origin Unknown's 'Lifecrisis' remix Ed Rush & Optical returned the favour with 'Mindscan', a remix of 'Mind Overload' from Ram Trilogy's Chapter Two 12" and 'Scanners' from Chapter One. It appeared on the limited edition sampler for the Molten Beats LP in 1999.
Unlike the other "mash-ups" I've covered recently it's hard to hear much of the source material in Ed Rush & Optical's remix, the most recognisable element being the electronic gurgles from 'Mind Overload' during the intro and breakdown. The "Scanning for lifeforms" vocal (originally from the film Event Horizon) in 'Scanners' appears heavily processed during the intro and there is also a very quiet "Mind overload" vocal during the breakdown but otherwise anything else they've used has been twisted out of shape so as to be unrecognisable (although I did notice a few piano notes from the beginning of 'Scanners' at 3:11). It's an incredible track though and works brilliantly both as an intro tune or in the mix. Percussion heavy from the start with rapid fire bongos it builds up perfectly to the introduction of the drums which use a kick/snare combination finished off with a little bit of Apache. A sick acidic bassline begins to take shape and is then fully unleashed at the drop, snaking around the bongos to cause maximum devastation.
This was actually Ed Rush & Optical's second attempt at remixing these tracks - check out the first here. It's more obviously a combination of the two with the bassline from 'Scanners' topped with the vocal and sound effects from 'Mind Overload'. I don't know why this one didn't get a release but it's a great shame, another one of those dubplates lost to history. Incidentally if anyone has Ed Rush & Optical's Breezeblock mix from 1999 please get in contact as I believe it includes this version.
'Mindscan' is available to download from the RAM Records store and most digital retailers. You can hear it in Andy C's mix for BBC Radio 1's Breezeblock show from November 1999:
Monday, 12 August 2013
Ed Rush & Optical - Lifecrisis (Origin Unknown Remix) (Virus Recordings, 1998)
Future Cut wasn't the first to combine two tunes to make a new one. This Origin Unknown remix fuses Ed Rush & Optical's 'Lifespan' and 'Crisis', the two tracks that made up the third release on Virus Recordings. It appeared on the sampler for the Wormhole LP in 1998 although I missed out on that due its limited nature. Fortunately it was re-released in early '99 on a 12" with the stunning Matrix remix of 'Medicine' on the other side, making it an essential purchase.
'Lifespan' is the primary basis for the remix, with that track's mournful violin and squelchy bass making up the first half. It also features the Worm break throughout although whereas in the original it's cut-up and processed, here it is more recognisable and utilizes the whole break with that great interplay between the cowbell and drums. As we get to the halfway point Origin Unknown bring in the splurges of distorted bass from 'Crisis' which introduce cushioned stabs as the track really takes off. It's a great remix as it takes elements from both tracks while adding something to them and in the process becomes a much more dancefloor friendly piece than either. Another entry in Origin Unknown's series of top class remixes.
Head over to DnB Blog where my Monday Retrospect column this week is about Matrix's 'Medicine' remix. If you missed it my first article on Lennie De Ice's 'We Are i.e.' is here.
Sunday, 11 August 2013
Usual Suspects - Spawn Punch (Future Cut Remix)(Renegade Hardware, 2000)
While their '20/20' remix may have sounded like a combination of two other tracks, Future Cut's 'Spawn Punch' is a mash-up proper, taking elements from both sides of Usual Suspects' second 12" for Renegade Hardware. Future Cut clearly had a taste for mash-ups around this time as it was released just two weeks after the '20/20' remix in the summer of 2000 on the Armageddon 2: The Remixes EP.
The first half of the track is based around 'Spawn' with the same suspenseful sound effect during the intro before the acidic LFO sound reminiscent of Daft Punk's 'Rock'n Roll' comes in, accompanied by distorted stabs and hits of sub bass. The track really takes off at the mid-track breakdown though when the throbbing bassline from 'Hole Punch' is introduced. The LFO squiggles continue over the top and at the end of each sixteen bar section after the drums come back in the bassline's changed up in a way that recalls Optical's 'To Shape The Future (Remix)'. It was always difficult deciding which side of the Usual Suspects 12" to play but this remix gives you the best of both worlds.
'Spawn Punch' is available to download directly from the label in MP3, FLAC or WAV. You can hear it among more recent material in this Raiden promo mix for Tech:nology put together earlier this year:
Saturday, 10 August 2013
Future Cut - 20/20 (Future Cut Remix) (Trouble On Vinyl, 2000)
Future Cut's Darren Lewis (AKA D-Cutz) and Iyiola Babalola (AKA 2D) met in 1998 when they were both DJs and promoters on the Manchester scene. They proved to be a great production team, initially for the Trouble On Vinyl stable before going on to release material on Metalheadz, Infrared, DSCI4 and C.I.A. as well as forming Un-Cut with singer Jenna G. Sadly they left the drum & bass scene several years ago and now provide production for pop stars such as Lily Allen and Olly Murs.
The original mix of '20/20' appeared on Trouble On Vinyl's Mission Control LP in 1999 but their remix on the following year's Here Comes Trouble Vol. 8 EP is the one to go for. Over a pulsating bassline and clean drums that make nice use of a cowbell they essentially turn the track into a mash-up of Ed Rush & Optical's 'Compound' and Usual Suspects' 'Killa Bees', combining a very similar synth riff to the former with a nasty stab of bass that instantly recalls the latter. While not the most original of tracks it's very effective and stayed in my bag for a couple of years after it was released.
Although the TOV catalogue isn't available digitally you can get the download of this one thanks to its appearance on Drum&BassArena's Anthology 2 compilation. It was a favourite of Brockie and it features in his set at United Dance's last event at Bagleys on the 14th June 2003 (it's at the end of part 3/beginning of part 4 if you want to skip straight to it). He also did an unreleased VIP of the track with Ed Solo which you can listen to here.
Friday, 9 August 2013
Sonic & Silver - On The Anson (Metalheadz, 2002)
U-Roy, born Ewart Beckford in 1942, became one of Jamaica's biggest stars in the early seventies and is famed for his unique style of toasting. After DJing for a number of sound systems throughout the sixties he got his big break when he began working with producer Duke Reid in 1970. One of the first cuts they put out was 'Rule The Nation' which is recorded over The Techniques' 'Love Is Not A Gamble'. The track's "This station rules the nation (with version)" intro was sampled on yesterday's 'Sound Station' and also appears on this tune from Sonic & Silver.
Also known as Accidental Heroes, Dean Fletcher and Jasper Byrne proved themselves to be versatile producers in the early noughties with releases on Formation, Trouble On Vinyl, Reinforced and Infrared as well as running their own Science Fiction imprint, a sub-label of Timeless Recordings. Their lone outing for Metalheadz was headlined by 'On The Anson', a superb dubbed out tune absolutely caked in reverb. It features lively drums which I think contain a bit of Amen, dark and dank atmospherics and a heavy sub bassline, topped with a sinister synth melody and U-Roy's echoed "rule the nation" refrain. One of my personal favourites from the duo.
'On The Anson' appeared on Bailey's Soul Thunder mix which was released on Breakbeat Science in 2002. Check it out below:
Thursday, 8 August 2013
Sound Station - Sound Station (Suburban Base, 1995)
Today I thought I'd take a look at this track from Lee Smith AKA Ascend as this afternoon I stumbled across his profile on Twitter - follow him here. The man deserves much respect for his productions as part of the Back 2 Basics crew in the nineties with tunes such as 'Can't Hold Back', 'Smokin' Cans' (alongside The JB) and of course the massive 'Dred Bass' as Dead Dred with Warren Smith AKA Ultravibe. 'Sound Station' was a one-off release for Suburban Base and is a typically tearing track.
It starts with a plaintive synth that sounds like the signal of a distant space station before the Sesame Street break is quickly introduced alongside wordless female vocals. The sombre vibe is broken by a "This station rules the nation" vocal which is sampled from the beginning of 'Rule The Nation' by U Roy. The drop brings in Amen choppage, a bright, bouncy bassline and drums treated to extreme processing which zoom around the track to disorientating effect. There is also an "Oh we a go cross River Jordan" vocal from Barrington Levy's 'Crucifixion' while celestial synths during the mid-track breakdown bring a brief moment of calm. Excellent stuff.
'Sound Station' appeared on Breakdown's Drum & Bass Selection 5 and is also available digitally from Drum&BassArena and Juno Download. The track was a favourite of Kenny Ken and you can hear him drop it at the end of his set at Dreamscape 17 Vs 18 from 11/03/95:
Wednesday, 7 August 2013
Digital - Waterhouse Dub (Function, 2000)
Timeless Recordings released Digital's first solo material back in 1995. Tracks such as 'Touch Me' and 'Spacefunk' were played by the likes the Doc Scott and Fabio which led to Goldie hearing them and signing Niagra / Down Under for Metalheadz. Digital maintained a pretty steady output on Timeless while also advising Brillo on which tracks to sign and in 1999 he began overseeing his own sub-label, Function, which primarily released his own productions alongside material from the likes of Q Project and Spirit. He has described it as a label where you could "do your own thing and get away with it", ignoring whatever else was going on in the scene at the time.
The imprint's third release featured the massive 'Waterhouse Dub', one of my personal favourites in the Digital catalogue. The track shows his hardcore and dub influences with a reverbed and layered synth part that resembles the sound of horns at a rave accompanied by a heavy sub bassline. The drums primarily use the Amen break, expertly chopped to give it a stop-start feel, along with some nicely edited Apache. A frantic, urgent tune that is guaranteed to make the place go off - also check the excellent A-Sides Remix that came out on the Quad 1 EP in 2001.
'Waterhouse Dub' was included on Spacefunk: The Archives 1995-2008 and is available from Drum&BassArena, Beatport and most other digital outlets. The track appears in Nolige's All Digital, Spirit & Total Science Mix (Part 3) which you can listen to below:
Tuesday, 6 August 2013
Total Science - Elementary (Timeless Recordings, 2001)
I thought I'd cover one more tune that samples Logic's 'The Warning' acapella before moving on as this one also uses the same "It takes the physical to create the physical" line. Timeless Recordings was started by Jeremy Winter AKA Brillo in 1992 and Total Science had a long standing relationship with the label going back to 1995 when they released Fever / The Essence under the Funky Technicians name.
'Elementary' is actually one of two tunes by Total Science from 2001 that feature the Logic acapella as 'Jet Set' on Advance//d used the "This is" part. It opens with hi-hat and sci-fi style synth before the beat comes in accompanied by radio tuning effects and a beeping melody. The bassline follows the pattern of the melody while the multi-layered drums prominently feature bongos with the Scorpio break appearing occasionally. There is also a high pitched squeal that pops up regularly throughout the track which at first I thought came from 'Put Your Love (In My Tender Care)' by The Fatback Band but is actually taken from Intelligent Hoodlum's 'Arrest The President' - they also used it on 'Out Of Touch'. Total Science keeping the quality control levels as high as ever.
You can hear 'Elementary' in Serum's Night In With The Vinyl Part 3 below:
Monday, 5 August 2013
Studio Pressure - The Physical (Photek, 1994)
Like DJ Zinc's 'Physical' this track from Studio Pressure samples the acapella of 'The Warning' by Logic, taking the same "It takes the physical to create the physical" line from the much sampled house tune. Studio Pressure was of course Photek but this track also features uncredited production from Source Direct.
It opens with echoed percussion and deep hits of 808 kick bass before the vocal comes in, sped up from the source to sound like a natural human voice. Backspinning vinyl introduces some masterfully chopped Plastic Jam, a break that was a favourite of Photek back in 1994, which is then joined by some great slabs of reversed bass. Bleeps and strange sounds pervade the track while the breakdown brings in muffled wind swept atmospherics and a "what do you mean?" vocal, combining to create an uneasy vibe throughout. As good as you'd expect from a collaboration between Rupert, Jim and Phil.
You can hear 'The Physical' as well as the rest of the output of the fairly short-lived Photek label in this tribute mix from D'Zine:
Sunday, 4 August 2013
DJ Zinc - Physical (Parousia, 1996)
Another track that samples the Beastie Boys/Blues Project flute is this one from DJ Zinc. It appeared on The Ganja Kru's massive Super Sharp Shooter EP which was their debut release for the major label owned Parousia imprint. Parousia also put out material by Marc Mac (as Maximum Style), Kemet Crew and DJ Ron before folding in 1998.
It's much more obvious on 'Physical' that 'Flute Loop' rather than 'Flute Thing' is where the sample has been sourced from as the Beastie's vocals are much clearer than they are on Ayman's 'Time To Die'. The track also features a couple of vocal samples, the first being an "Owwww" from Wilson Pickett's 'Get Me Back On Time (Engine No. 9)' that appears frequently throughout. The second is the title-lending "It takes the physical to create the physical" from the heavily sampled house tune 'The Warning (Inner Mix)' by Logic which crops up just before the first and second drops. Around these samples Zinc crafts a dark-edged roller with a plunging bassline that has a submarine quality to it and drums that use the Hot Pants and Worm breaks. Quality stuff from Zinc as ever.
You can hear 'Physical' in Haste's Jump Up Mix Part 4: So Damn Fresh below. The full tracklist and a download are available over at his site.
Saturday, 3 August 2013
Ayman - Time To Die (Juice Records, 1995)
Today's record shopping trip didn't yield any decent finds so I'm going to take a look at the other side of the Juice Records release I picked up last week. 'Time To Die' is co-produced by Semtex, who also featured on Ayman's other 12" for Juice, The Bomb / Liquorish.
It's a moodier cut than 'Get Ruff', opening with some otherworldly atmosphere before heavy sub bass enters. The track's title comes from its "Wake up, time to die!" Blade Runner sample, a classic line spoken by the replicant Leon Kowalski in this scene. The vocal brings in the drums which use the Life Could, Think and Sesame Street breaks while that deep bass keeps pummelling you. The track also has a nice little flute sample which originates from 'Flute Thing' by The Blues Project, a sixties psychedelic blue rock band from Greenwich Village, New York, but was actually sampled from Beastie Boys' 'Flute Loop' - you can hear some of their added vocals in the background. Another rough and rugged hardstepping tune from the Juice camp.
You can hear 'Time To Die' in DJextreme's 1995 Jungle Vol. 7 mix which you can download over at Hardscore.com.
Friday, 2 August 2013
Jonny L - Piper (Grooverider Remix) (XL Recordings, 1997)
After mentioning Jonny L, real name John Lisners, in my post the other day about DJ Hype's 'Smack My Bitch Up' remix I thought it was about time I covered one of his tunes. Jonny L's association with The Prodigy actually goes back to 1993 when he was signed to the same label following his huge rave tune 'Hurt You So'. He then remixed their 'One Love' single and released tracks such as 'Ooh I Like It' and 'Transonic'. By the time Sawtooth, his debut album, came out in 1997 he'd switched to drum & bass and 'Piper' was one of that years anthems.
While much of his early drum & bass stuff is more in the Bukem/Fabio vein 'Piper' is a hard and dark two-step monster. The original mix is a great track but the Grooverider remix, while not significantly different, is the one to go for. The rigid beat, pulsating bassline and cold, emotionless vocal are kept in place but the atmosphere is even more alien and oppressive while dirty stabs of bass and a swirling flute-like sound reverberate throughout the track to menacing effect. An intense and brutal roller of a tune, with bonus points for being released on a 10".
The digital of the Grooverider remix is available to purchase from Drum&BassArena where you can also get hold of the Sawtooth LP. You can hear the original mix in Jonny L's Essential Mix from 1997:
Thursday, 1 August 2013
E.P.S. & 2-Vibe - Hype The Funk (Urban Takeover, 1997)
Another tune that samples Kool Keith from his Ultramagnetic days is this one on Mickey Finn and Aphrodite's Urban Takeover label. I don't know much about them but E.P.S. & 2-Vibe were a duo consisting of Mark Piper and Tim Austin who were from Basingstoke in Hampshire. They only released two 12"s, both on Urban Takeover, although Tim Austin also appears to have had a track released on IQ Records in 1994 entitled 'The Rising' which was the flipside of Badman's 'War For '94'.
'Hype The Funk' follows the jump-up formula of combining hip-hop samples with big basslines but does the job particularly well. It opens with a slightly sinister xylophone melody reminiscent of 'Tubular Bells' and a "Now remember" vocal before introducing the pitched up "Hype the Funk" hook which is taken from the beginning of Kool Keith's second verse on 'Poppa Large'. The vocal is cut-up in the lead up to the drop which brings in a wobble bassline punctuated by hip-hop style horn stabs over simple two-step drums. The breakdown features some west coast g-funk before the whole "back to funk, freak the funk, hype the funk, swipe the funk" phrase is looped a few times to really get the tune stuck in your head - even Fatboy Slim was playing this one.
A remix of the tune featured on Urban Takeover's G.L.O.B.A.L. Takeover compilation in 1999 but it's not a patch on the original which you can hear this in this '95-'97 jump-up mix from Pearsall entitled Urban Takedown. Further details and a full tracklist are available over at his Sonic Rampage site.