It's a quick Gone To A Rave this week, entirely inspired by a Discogs scalper. I was just sticking some records up for sale on the site when I noticed that there was only one copy of Si-La's amazing Flashing Styles EP up on there - and the clown selling it is asking for £200. I have no idea how the guy has come to this figure, but it's the kind of ratcheting up of prices that really pisses me off - the last time Flashing Styles sold, it went for £30, so this just seems a joke. As it happens I've got a copy of the EP, so I decided to rip it and stick it up today to entirely undermine this random dudes price. Is this out of order? I'm not sure - but I am sure that not a penny of the £200 this guy is asking for is gonna go to the guys who wrote the music in the first place.
Obviously, if Si-La want me to take these links down, I'd happily oblige - I'd love to talk to them because there is nothing out there on either them, or the Tumpin records label they released on. All I've got are 5 tracks - the 4 cuts that make up the Flashin Styles EP, and Massive & Large, the first release on Tumpin'. They seem to have some sort of affiliation to Lewisham's seminal reggae soundsystem Saxon - Massive & Large samples the Saxon MC Papa Levi, taking vocals from his track Big, Broad, Massive & Large - hear both below -
However, on the Flashing Styles EP that followed, Papa Levi gets a full writing credit, and the sleeve shouts out the whole Saxon family.
The opening track All Crew is the real killer - a true rave classic, with high, utopian strings, finely constructed breaks, and then a minute in those huge, dubby synth stabs drop and you think it's got as good as it possibly could - but no! they only go and sitch it up with some wicked Italian piano. Then it's switching into French Kiss style rhythmic synths - it's literally got everything you could possibly want. I feel like they traveled into the future, did a Family Fortunes style survey on 'sounds you'd expect to hear in a hardcore classic' then went back to 1992 and wrote a track based on the results.
Next up comes the Papa Levi cut - Mental Slavery, and they're back with those futuristic synth strings, and bursts of diva wail, this time underpinned by some dub heavy hardcore. Levi chants about '90s mental slavery... check to myself when I and I ah go free' - it's fairly unique to hear an original vocal on a hardcore cut, especially one as early as this, so I can only assume that Si-La's links with Saxon were strong - Papa Levi was a fairly established star by '92, having had numerous reggae chart no 1s, both in teh UK and Jamaica.
Levi appears agin on the first track on the flip All of the Massive, revisiting his "massive and large" lyrics, in what is essentially a remix of the first Si-La track, the EP then closes with the rave-chill of the piano led Bliss On, some pure 6am sunrise shit - I love the way that even a blissed out tracks clocks in at round 150 bpm - what can I say? It was a different era...