This week I’ve decided to up some tracks from one mighty, crazily under rated label: Boogie Beat Records. Boogie Beat was started out in 1990 by Andy Lysandrou (aka Kid Andy) as an early rave label. It hit stride in ’92 with breakbeat hardcore, started powering out darkside stuff in ’93, and by the mid 90s had turned into a fully fledged amen smashing ragga jungle label. In 1996, Lysandrou wanted to move on. He shut the label down and started up Ice Cream Records – one of the cornerstones of the UK Garage scene. Don. Essentially, in the space of 6 short years Boogie Beat touched on every single development in UK rave culture, releasing 12 after 12 of underground fire. If you see a record with this logo, or any of it’s variants:
Buy it. It can’t not be good.
There’s not much info on Boogie Beat online – I’m trying to track down the guys involved, so hopefully I should be able to get an interview with one of them in coming weeks. There’s an alright interview with Lysandrou up here about the digitisation of Ice Cream’s catalogue, but nothing of the sort has been done with the Boogie Beat stuff. Whilst the label produced hit after hit inside the rave scene, they never broke out into the mainstream in the manner of Production House or Moving Shadow. My feeling is that they were making tracks that were just too unapologetically street to get mainstream acceptance - they were more ragga chat and heavy bass than the pop vocals and cheese required to breakthrough. But, as a result, the catalogue still sounds mindblowing today, a collection of releases where the artists are constantly pushing their kit to the limits, hurtling the form ever forward.
On to the music.
I'm gonna kick off with Rizla Bass, a track from 1992 centred round the "Since I was a yout, I used to bun collie weed in a rizla" sample sourced from Pablo Gad’s 1980 roots rocker ‘Hard Times’ – The Prodigy famously used this sample in ‘Fire’ (seriously, do yourself a favour and watch the Fire video, it's beyond good...). I’ve no idea who got to the sample first, and I'm sure there's disputed accounts, but it’s got real staying power, since resurfacing in various other jungle, dubstep and garage bootlegs. Anyway, it's used skillfully and extensively on Rizla Bass, over two different mixes – personally I think the euphoric piano of the second just edges it, but both are strong enough to warrant a listen –
Next up, skip forward a year and the sound has shifted a great deal in a short space of time. I’ve included all three tracks from the Kenetic EP because they give such an insight into the different ways hardcore was pulling itself apart – on the A Side you’ve got ‘Revenge of the Phoenix’, which is almost proggy in its structure, with long ambient passages, loads of deep, moody synth lines, and sudden bursts of hyper speed breaks. On the flip, Kenetic change things up with some early ragga jungle, nicking the vocal from Half Pint’s evergreen dancehall classic ‘Greetings’. The breaks are still crazy hectic; they haven’t quite settled into the more spacious drum n bass aesthetic of later years, but you can see a clear blueprint forming.
Finally, by 1995, you can see how much the label has evolved. This 2 track 12” from Baraka and Master Lacquer is pretty sought after, and understandably; it’s got 2 weightily pressed cuts of tear out ragga jungle. The amens are stretched, abused, shuffled and decimated, the synth pads float and glisten, and the basslines fucking kill it. As far as I'm concerned, this sort of thing is a high point of UK art; as effortlessly experimental as the most avant garde work 'high' culture can come up with, but still always, always, firmly rooted in tearing the arse out of the soundsystem. Genius.
Follow Ian McQuaid on twitter @IanMcQuaid
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