Fracture – Pirate Radio FavesBACK TO ARCHIVE
In this instalment I’m going to be showcasing some of my favourite and most influential pirate radio tracks. By that, I mean tracks that I heard a lot or only on Pirate Radio and a huge effect on me as a listener and ultimately as an artist. It’s a very personal list and it is in no way meant be any kind of ‘best ever’ list. there’ll be some anthems but also some forgotten gems that didn’t get much club play . . .
First up is “The Good, 2 Bad & Hugly” and a track simply called “Jungle”. It came out on Ruff Kut Records in 1992 and I only heard this once on a Pulse FM tape I had. I later found out it got played out at raves too but at that time I was only 13 yrs old so there was no way I was getting in to any of them. This is a wonderful example of that period just before the Jungle explosion of 1993 when the sound was a bit slower and shared a lot in common with one of its ancestors – the fast breakbeat led UK Hip Hop of the late 80s and early 90s. But as the sample says – On The Turntable we have…. Jungle.
I could literally just say ‘Nicholas Parsons’ about this one. That was what this tune was referred to by absolutely everyone back in 1992. Satin Storm’s Think I’m Going Out Of My Head. I’ve never heard another tune like it in the 30 years that have passed. It has a sort of sci fi cyberpunk nu romantic vibe to it but it hard as nails. Nicholas Parsons, if you only knew.
Next up is Luv Ta Luv Ya by the Skeleton Krew, again from 1992 and continuing that raw UK Hip Hop inspired vibe. Again I only heard this one once and then not again for many many years. When I did end up hearing it again I was able to get in contact with DJ Monita of Skeleton Krew and let him know how much of an influence this track was on me – being that I’d listen to it over and over again on cassette. He was kind enough to let me do a version of it which I still play today and am forever grateful for. This is also a pretty special record as it contains the the original of a Think break variation that would end up getting absolutely rinsed in many big tracks well into the 90s – a really important record.
Sticking in 1992 and a track by Potential Bad Boy called Bad Girl on Ibiza Records. Moving away slightly from the UK Hip Hop sounds and into the bleeps and sub bass area. If you’re unaware of Potential Bad Boy or Ibiza records please do go and check them out as they both laid serious groundwork for what came later. The pitched up nursery rhyme style ditty in this track got recited in the playground at secondary school and got stuck in my head forever.
Into 1993 now with a track called Your Love Is Yours by Grooverider under the Inta-Warriors alias on the legendary Dee Jay Recordings. Getting a bit closer to cleaner simplified roll out Jungle sound that came a bit later. I had this one on a tape from Weekend Rush with DJ Vinylgroove and MC Shabba. I can still remember some of the lyrics Shabba spat over this track, which is something quite common from that pirate radio era – I and many others would tape shows off the radio and then absolutely rinse them to the point of knowing not just the MC’s lyrics but also the shouts and general chat.
1994 now and an iconic track from Kool FM. Gappa G And Hypa Hyper – The Information Centre. This one no doubt got battered in raves but for me will always be synonymous with Kool FM who commandeered the name and dubbed themselves ‘The Information Centre’ – a concept which I go into depth on in an interview with Eddie Peake as part of the 0860 project, so make sure you check that one out. Not only was this a massive track because of the name but it also has a really oddball quality with that off kilter melody sample which sounds like some sort of psychedelic steel pan type instrument. This indeed, is the information centre…
This is Bass Constructor by Andy C on his own Ram Records from 1993. Full on euphoric hardcore rave vibes on this – about 50 ideas all in one track and they all work. Totally hectic but totally hangs together – a masterpiece in that regard. This was on the same Vinyl Groove and Shabba cassette from Weekend Rush that I had. Shares some similar vibes with early Prodigy stuff. Shout to the Essex massive.
Screwface 2 (GE Real Remix), originally by Dubtronix. Raw, dark Jungle from 1994. A very unique sound, messy breaks on the edge of falling apart coupled with the bleak and futuristic time-stretched samples from Marked For Death resulting in a very anxious and paranoid vibe. I’d love to know if this got played in raves and what the response was. A hidden gem this one.
Back into 1993 and a Ragga Hardcore scorcher from Lewi Cifer called Heat featuring a pitched down sampled of General Levi. The pitching down of Ragga vocals to get them to fit the tempo of Hardcore results in something incredibly dark and mysterious. I loved this period of Techno style bleeps and pads with Ragga vocals over the top. Although the influences come from afar the result of the blend is undeniably British.
Sticking in 1993 but delving a bit deeper into a cinematic and atmospheric sound with Acro’s Superpod on DJ Crystl’s Force Ten Records. Very clear memories of walking around North London at night with this on my walkman. I had this on an amazing tape of DJ Footloose on Kool FM. He used to do these ‘dark side’ mixes which were chock full of tracks like this. Honorary mention to Intense’s The Quickening which was also on that tape and is up there with my all time faves but I don’t own it on vinyl and it is silly money on Discogs.
DJ SS’s remix of D’Cruze – Want You Now is pure melodic time stretch joy. If there’s one sound that screams 1993 Jungle it’s the Akai time stretch – such a unique sound. I love how the breaks sing in this one. I often think about how different Jungle would have sounded were it not for the Akai sampler. A great example of mis-use of technology – something that has often been instrumental in the development of many genres.
This one is a real pirate radio culture relic. Dica’s Rushing Crew from the Weekend Rush EP pt3. I love the raw approach and the simple but incredibly effective skit of Dica phoning up for a shout to The Rushing Crew. It sums up the whole era for me – a track that got played on pirate radio about phoning up a pirate radio station. Perfect. At this point I must too send a shout to Weekend Rush who were a big part of my youth.
Moving on into 1995 and a stone cold pirate radio classic by Missing called The Box Reopens. It’s a remix of Noise Factory’s equally classic The Box Opens. But there’s something about this remix that cut through like a knife at the time. The dread bass sound had been used a few times and this track took it to the next level with a very melodic line. Amazing beats on this one too. Check out the interview I did with Missing for the 0860 project where he talks about writing out the edits and patterns on a bit of paper before getting to the studio to save time and money on the session. Love it.
Scottie! We’re not gonna die we’re gonna get out of here. First time hearing this blew my mind. Why on Earth would they sample someone saying someone’s name? So bizarre but it works so well. Similar to GE Real’s Screwface earlier in this mix, it creates and anxious and paranoid vibe. Who is Scottie? And where do they need to get out of?! This is not the only record in the ‘name sampling’ craze. There was also Ricky and Johnny. Very meta but very much part of the pirate radio fabric.
Ray Keith on the remix for Moby’s Feeling So Real, but let’s face it this was just known as Yes Yes. Every time I hear this I imagine MC Det belting out his classic bars on Kool FM. In my mind, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t even get out of bed in 1994 without hearing this. Love the flangey Humpty Dump break in to the simple but catchy Amen and 808 drop.
I used to call this one, and others in the same style, a ‘Sunday Afternoon Selection’ simply because it was the type of vibe you’d hear on pirate radio on a Sunday Afternoon. Alex Reece’s Basic Principles from 1993. Out of all the early Alex Reece / Wax Doctor type stuff, this was certainly the one I heard the most. Stripped back and relaxed. Definitely one for blocking on a Sunday with the First Aid Kit.
Continuing on the Sunday vibe is 1994’s So Sweet by Hope & Bones. Another Kool FM anthem here. Clear memories of long summer days hearing this blasting out of cars and windows in Hackney. That blissed out Jones Girls guitar sample in to some very ruff, rugged and raw drum and bass work out. The ruff with the smooth – another real unique characteristic of Jungle music.
1995 now and Tango’s remix of Jazzmin by Cloud 9 on Moving Shadow. These are the type of tracks I feel pirate radio really gave a home to. I may well be wrong here but I feel like they probably didn’t get as much club play as the bangers – and for this reason I’m so incredibly grateful for pirate radio. This is one of my favourite Jungle tracks of all time and I remember bugging out hard to it, but never in a club. What a sublime record.
Helicopter by Deep Blue. Now this one for sure got battered in clubs. But it got equally smashed on radio. This is one of those stand out tracks that I feel made a real mark in the sand. It’s 100% Jungle but feels like the beginnings of a more stripped down instrumental sound which ultimately became Drum & Bass. Iconic track and once again the Akai time stretch on the bongos.
DJ SS again and Hot Steppers Vol 1 from 1995. One of what seemed like a million records at the time that sampled RnB hits. I loved this period and I think SS was king. He had the formula, seemingly knocking out anthem after anthem built on the same foundations.
Still in 1995 and a snap shot of another little trend that was popping off in Jungle and on Kool FM – the US Hip Hop blend. So many amazing tracks from this time that sampled the likes of Wu Tang, Gravediggaz, KRS1 and loads more. Killer sound. This one is Kool FM DJ Tonic with a track called The Mack on DeeJay Recordings.
DJ Hype’s On That Dust continues the US Hip Hop sampling trend. Hype’s tracks were always so recognisable with the bubbly bass and choice breaks. I could have chosen so any Hype or Ganja Records tracks for this mix but for some reason this one sticks out as a pirate radio fave.
1994 again and something I literally only heard once on a tape my friend Matthew recorded of Pressure X on Kool FM July 1994. It’s in the 0860.fm archive if you want to go and have a listen. It’s DJ Dextrous under the alias DJ D and it’s called Jungle Love. I think it’s a bootleg or a remix that otherwise didn’t come out? Anyway, it has the classic Dextrous bass sound heard in a lot of his tracks at the time. Pure vibe.
Another one that I’ve only ever heard once. Tonic’s King Shit on Intalektive from 1995. I heard this on a Tonic & Remadee show on Kool. Their show was called The Drive By show and Tonic was knee deep in the US Hip Hop sound. It was a great show and was always an insight into the Lucky Spin related world as Tonic used to work at the shop on Holloway Road. Love the bass line in this one.
1996 now and a track I heard once on a Bryan Gee show on Kool FM’s Super Sunday. Bryan Gee’s show was a real education every week. He’d play the freshest stuff from the Bristol crew and this one is DJ Die and Suv’s Out Of Sight. If there was one show i’d try to catch and tape every week it was Bryan Gee. Much love to him for giving me his blessings to sample his voice for the album.
Another Bryan Gee show special here. Dillinja’s 1999 remix of Cyberspace’s Search For Me. Absolutely nasty. Dillinja had a real run of this distorted drums and 808 style. Feels like it’s going to disintegrate at any moment.
Moving into 2000 here with Sonar Circle’s Free Spirit on Reinforced. I heard this a few times on DJ Flight’s shows on Rinse FM, often with Stamina MC. This track in particular became a bit of a blue print with some of the early Fracture & Neptune releases – breaks, a bit of jazz and some floaty atmospherics. Massive shout to both Flight and Sonar Circle, two huge influences on me and my music. Check out Sonar Circle’s album ‘Radius’ on Reinforced too, an overlooked classic.
2001’s Feel It by Q Project was probably my favourite track of that year. It came at a time when D&B was getting a bit noisy and losing some of the raw rave vibe I loved so much about the 90s. Again championed by DJ Flight on Rinse, this would go on to be a track I played a lot on my early shows on Rude FM. One for the heads.
Into something I used to play a lot on Rude FM. Alpha Omega’s Promised Land on Skunkrock. Shout to Alleycat. So raw this one, mad drum machine breaks and a nasty acid bass. Blissed out breakdown and even a wicked synth solo toward the end. I found this period of time really hard to find music I wanted to play If you did ever hear any of my shows around 2001 you would have definitely heard this one.
Finishing up with a track I first heard on DJ Focus and MC System’s Sunday night show on Rude FM. It’s by Intense and is called Solar from 2000. This was another show that I would lock into weekly and was the reason I sent a tape in to Rude to get show. He’d play loads of Good Looking Records stuff, loads of Reinforced stuff and just general loads of amazing music no one else was playing. There was a Paradox record he used to play called Running Steel which I still don’t own. Amazing DJ.