Gone To A Rave #34: Jungle On Video
I decided today that I was gonna track down a bunch of jungle videos and have a look at them – there's loads of hardcore videos out there so I reasoned it'd be the same for jungle, but no! It turns out that jungle videos are pretty hard to come by. I guess it's testimony to the time, with no UK terrestrial TV channel showing any support to the scene, there was little incentive for junglists to bother with the considerable time and expense involved in making a promo video. Added to this, most singles were banged out and moved on from, very little was released with the intention of being made 'a hit' in the traditional going-to-number-one sense – during it's golden age jungle barely troubled the charts; it may have been shifting hundreds of thousands of units, but these were almost entirely from specialist record shops, very few of whom were involved in giving chart returns.
So when you do come across videos- particularly from artists who weren't signed to a major, it's all the more interesting. Whilst it's little surprise that promo clips were made for big cross over releases such as Inner City Life and Brown Paper Bag, I was genuinely surprised to unearth a video for SS's much loved remix of Limb By Limb. In fact, let's kick off with it:
I’m guessing some of the impetus to make the Limb By Limb video came from Fashion Records – the pioneering UK reggae label owned the publishing on Cutty Ranks’ original vocal, and they’re properly credited on the Suburban Base release – a rarity in jungle’s trigger happy days of packing tracks with un-cleared samples. I love how this video draws together people skanking, dodgy fonts, old skool reggae footage, and those blocky 3D graphics that appeared to be in every single rave video made c.1994. There’s a proper sense of fun to it all – jungle as a big crazy party. It’s a sense of fun that’s shared on the Kingston/ London soundclash of Congo Natty’s Code Red–
I love the route one approach of this video – the track smashes together Jamaican reggae and London jungle, so the film does the same, slicing up footage of sunny Jamdown with grotty shots of a London rave. It’s quite possible that the funds to make the Code Red video had trickled down from Island Records – the track was signed from Congo Natty to Island offshoot Mango. Regardless, Natty obviously decided that making a video was a good call, as he later released his own mini epic for all time classic Junglist
I’m always going to be grateful that Congo Natty decided to make a video to one of my all time favourite tracks, but watching it does leave a slight sense of sadness – much of the video is shot through a blue filter, and I can’t think of a more fitting visual metaphor for the scene (and dance music in general’s) shift to a new, more serious aesthetic some time round ’95. Out go the mad graphics, the clashing day glo colours and the throwbacks to the summer of love, and in comes a new realism, that mostly consists of single colour filters, shots of producers in the studio, and shots of people standing in the street looking moody. Check out Inner City Life for more downbeat visuals tinged orange and blue-
Adam F’s Circles meanwhile, decides that using two filters is a step too far, and has the entire video shot in a glum blue. Circles is a beautiful banger of a track, but this video’s faux ‘meaningfullness’ is just silly. I mean are we not meant to be here to have a dance? Fuck sake, somebody give the director a shake. I often look at the current batch of ultra-serious deep house producers (Dusky spring to mind) and think the same – yes we get it, you’re very serious about your ‘art’. Well done.
A better use of the filter pops up on Prizna Man’s Fire, which remembers to have shots of people actually raving, and also decides that if you can’t be friendly the least you can be is fucking scary. So you get all sorts of screw faced expressions from peeps flashing up lighters, alongside some dude wearing a gas mask that seems purpose built to scare the poor sod he’s doubtless mugging once the shoots over. I like the fact all the ravers in the video are really glamorous – by the late 90s jungle had pretty much mutated into a student past time and the dances were full of girls in skousers (anyone else remember the skirt/trouser combo of ’98?) and men in ugly combat trousers (guilty as charged m’lud) – this lot are far easier on the eye.
At this stage I was going to post the video for Super Sharp Shooter, but Jesus it’s boring – blue filter, a couple of blokes breakdancing, and some guy running through the street. What the hell were people thinking in the mid-90s? Instead let’s just go right back and stick on the video to On A Ragga Tip for an example in how to do it properly: people having a laugh, loads of nutty dancing, bit of a record shop scene, a sort-of storyline of people trying to find a rave and loads of jarring, hyped up graphics. Mint.