It’s crazy seeing the outrage American pop stars are managing to hustle up – in an age when it’s so hard to generate any outrage at all – by banging on about Molly in pop songs. Anyone growing up in the 90s lived through a time when it was almost weirder (in England at least) to hear a chart dance tune that didn’t have a reference to getting nutted… It got to the point where people were so used to hearing tracks eulogising getting on one, that even the Shaman’s infamous ‘E’s are good’ chant failed to stop Ebenezeer Goode getting banned. You could probably argue that the poison a culture venerates tells you as much about its mental state as anything else –and the degeneration from joyous rave utopianism to lumpen laddism can certainly be charted in the road from ‘E’s are good’ to ‘Lager Lager Lager’. But that’s another article for another time.
This week I’m going to post a few obscure hardcore tunes that do away with euphemism, and quite blatantly tell you what you should be on in the rave. There’s no ‘take ne higher’ coyness here – this is the pirate radio, illegal rave, stanky Hackney warehouse end of things, and these boys don’t fuck about with subtle. It’s significant that these are tracks from 1992 – long before the Leah Betts death of 1995 would drive a final, conclusive nail into rave’s love affair with MDMA. In ‘92 the lights were still bright and the dove’s were still slamming. Ecstacy’s place in dance history was assured.
First up, I had to include this EP produced and released by Funky Junky. The label leaves you no doubt who’s in charge, with FJ letting you know that he takes credit for writing, producing, arranging, engineering and mixing everything – I can only assume he didn’t sort out the amazing sleeve art or he would have let you know that as well. Aside from calling his label Funky Junky, and naming the title track ‘Rushin’ – a decent piece of ’92 hardcore – FJ steps the narcotic influence up on the flip with the cut ‘Club Candy’. On one of the 3 mixes he opens with the music from the Hamlet cigar advert, which remains instantly recognisable to anyone of a certain age. He then has some ridiculous comedy sample telling you that ‘happiness is a spliff called ganga’, before dropping into sample heavy mid-paced breakbeat action, nicking the opening bars from Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’, some Italo piano riff that I recognise but can’t place, and a soundalike of the ‘Ecstasy’ chant that played through Beltram’s 1990 classic ‘Energy Flash’ along the way. I’ve included three of the tracks here – if anyone has the time and inclination, I think the two mixes of ‘Club Candy’ to do with being edited together, keeping the Human League samples and all the piano, but losing excessive, fairly shit scratching. The gauntlet’s down people!
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Next up is a genuine rarity – ‘Rush Hour’ by The Moog. Copies of this Delirious Records EP used to go for a couple of hundred quid, but with the collectors market currently obsessing over American house records (plus a fairly limited 2012 repress), there are currently copies on Discogs for round £50 – which I’d say was a bargain. This opening track is a classic, and one of the most blatant E loving tunes you’re going to hear, with samples stolen from a documentary about the effect of MDMA scattered liberally over Prodigy-esque beats. It’s paired with ‘Jungle Muffin’ – one of the earliest tracks to use the word ‘jungle’ and one I’ll be posting at a later point when I get into the much disputed world of proto jungle.
The Moog was the Amiga powered project of a musician called Andrew Wright – interestingly enough Wright is still advocating for chemical pleasures – a bit of internet searching turned up this trailer for a sci-fi film he’s involved in, telling the story of world where the war of drugs has finished, and a group of friends “becoming jaded with the now legal substances, risk their relationships and sanity to create the perfect new illegal drug”. Glad to see you’re still flying the flag Andrew..!
Finally, here’s a pure head rush– ‘Total Xstacy’ from the consistently excellent DJ SS. I’m going to be coming back time and again to Formation Records. Run by SS (which stands for Scratchenstein fact fans. All these years and I only just found that out..), the first 50 or 60 releases on the Leicester based label are pretty much peerless, running from early rave killers to all time jungle classics and single handedly proving that there was breakbeat life outside London . This track is the 10th from the label, taken from when they first really hit their stride in ’92. SS is helped on production duties by long standing spar EQ, and the thing that really stands out is the level of production skill the two have even at this early stage – while so many hardcore tunes have dodgy levels, muddy breaks, discordant riffs, and muffled bass, all the elements of ‘Total Xstacy’ sit tighter than a prison rollie, without energy levels being lost in the quest for fidelity.
They stick to the theme on the B Side, which I’ve thrown in for good measure, using that age old staple, the kids TV sample – ‘I’m so high off the ground, I can see for miles around…’
Follow Ian McQuaid on twitter @ianmcquaid
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