Ram Records (the sheep years)

GFT here. This blog is about 6 months old. To celebrate, I’m breaking the rules. Throw the boat out!

Labels with a loooong release history are always going to be difficult for me to do, and as Ram is now coming up on 200-ish releases, that would have resulted in an unmanageably long mix… a long dark tunnel, you could say? :|

Luckily, there is a handy dividing line available to us. When Ram turned its direction towards the straight-up DnB sound of the late ’90s it also updated its label logo to the familiar horns logo still in use today. Prior to that, the logo consisted of this fairly quaint little goat’s head design, hence, ‘the sheep years’. This month, as I stand here in my Ram sheep’s head t-shirt drinking a cup of tea from my Ram mug, surrounded by stacks of Ram wax, Nightlife CDs, posters, keyrings and other assorted Ram detritus (all of which you can buy from the Ram shop!), we delve deep into that now-brief period of history when Ram’s bread and butter was hardcore jungle tekno – the first 23 12″s from the Ram back catalogue, plus the 4 x 12″s from the Speed of Sound LP. 64 tunes in 78 minutes… not too shabby, and all vinyl just like it was back in the day.

The Label

Ram RecordsRam Records needs no introduction, but that won’t stop me from giving it one anyway. In a statement that always makes me question my own validity as a human being, Ram was founded in 1992 by a 15 (!) year old Andy C along with Ant Miles. As Desired State, the pair had already released several underground hits, including the hardcore anthem ‘Dance the Dream‘ which was remixed several times. As Origin Unknown, the duo hit it big (#understatement) with the fourth release on Ram, The Touch/Valley of the Shadows. Valley of the Shadows became an all time classic in the scene and in 2014, some 200 releases later, Ram is still going strong as the undisputed biggest label in DnB. Whatever anyone wants to say about how the Ram sound has changed and evolved over the years, you must respect that journey. Ram Records has released countless classics since then and shows no signs of slowing down. There are loads of all-Ram mixes on the internet if you need history lessons that confirm this fact.

Also, I can’t let this go by without mentioning the demonstrably insane skills of Andy C, the DJ. This has without doubt been one the key ingredients to the success of Ram. As anyone who has ever seen the man in session will know, Andy C cannot be tested on the decks. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan of the tunes, his skill and speed is obvious. Andy C is my go-to DJ when responding to the ‘beatmatching is dead easy’ statement. If that were true then everyone would be as on-point as Andy C, right? (Edit: here is a really great interview with the man himself)

For this mix, I’ve gone with the first 23 releases on Ram, ending with their last true jungle release and coincidentally the last 12″ featuring the sheep logo, Nighflight/Quest. From RAMM18 onwards, roughly around the time of the first LP (see below), the Ram sound changed dramatically as it followed, and in many ways led, the rest of the DnB scene towards a more stripped back, minimal 2-step style with lush, futuristic arrangements. You can hear this sound start coming through on the Speed of Sound LP.

As far as getting hold of these tunes, most of them are fairly available, although the further back you go the more in-demand the records are. Many of the older tunes have not yet been released digitally which, along with natural age/scarcity, probably explains things. Even so, there are no super-hard-to-find records here. The Eastern Promise EP (RAMM02) did not make it past promo, so expect to pay top dollar for a genuine copy. If you’re not bothered by the ethics then a bootleg pressing does exist to mitigate the issue.

Tracklist

> = teased
** = no digital (afaik)

Andy C – Outer Limits
> Origin Unknown – Eastern Promise (Mix 2) **
> Origin Unknown – Losing U (Mix 2) **
Origin Unknown – Eastern Promise (Mix 1) **
Andy C – Mind Rise
Andy C – Something New Pt. 1 **
> Andy C – Visions
Origin Unknown – Losing U (Mix 1) **
Andy C – Is Truth The Light? **
> Andy C – Never Felt This Way
Origin Unknown – The Touch
Origin Unknown – The Touch (Part 2)
Andy C – Bass Constructor **
> Origin Unknown – Valley of the Shadows
Origin Unknown – Valley of the Shadows (Long Dark Remix)
> Andy C – Something New Pt. 2 **
Elevation – Make It Right Pt. 1 **
> Andy C – Bass Constructor (Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era Remix) **
Andy C – Slip ‘N Slide **
> Elevation – Make It Right Pt. 2 **
Elevation – Take Your Mind **
> Desired State – Beyond Bass **
Desired State – Killer Beat **
> Desired State – Killer Beat (Q-Bass Remix) **
Desired State – Beyond Bass (Remix) **
> Elevation – Another Time **
Uncle 22 & Navigator – 6 Million Ways To Die – Choose One (DJ Hype Mix) **
Randall & Andy C – Sound Control
Randall & Andy C – Sound Control (Remix)
> Flatliner – No Boundaries
Flatliner – The Big Bang
> Randall & Andy C – Feel It (Stakka & K. Tee Remix)
> Shimon – Within Reason
Shimon – Within Reason (Liftin Spirits Remix)
> Shimon – The Predator
> Uncle 22 & Navigator – 6 Million Ways To Die – Choose One (Uncle 22 Mix) **
Flatliner – No Boundaries (Origin Unknown Remix)
Shimon – The Predator (L Double Remix)
Flatliner – The Big Bang (Liftin Spirit Remix)
> Andy C – Roll On
Andy C – Cool Down
> Randall & Andy C – Feel It
Flatliner & DJ Freedom – Deeper Levels (Remix)
Desired State – Goes Around
Desired State – Goes Around (Remix)
> Desired State – Here and Now
Stakka & K. Tee – Hear Say
> Stakka & K.Tee – Orange Sunshine
Desired State – Mind Games
> Stakka & K. Tee – Danger Zone
Desired State – Invasion
> Origin Unknown – Mission Control
Desired State – Here and Now (Remix)
> Shimon & Andy C – Recharge
Shimmon – Night Flight
> Origin Unknown – Truly One
> Origin Unknown – Lunar Bass
Origin Unknown – Truly One (Remix)
> Concept 2 – Cause N’ Effect
Shimmon & Andy C – Quest
Shimon & Andy C – Quest (VIP Mix)
Origin Unknown – Valley Of The Shadows (Awake 96′ Remix)
> Boogie Times Tribe – The Dark Stranger (Origin Unknown Remix)
> Nookie – A Drum, A Bass & A Piano (Origin Unknown Remix)

Bonus Material

  • As mentioned, RAMM02 never made it past the promo stage and was therefore never fully released. According to my self-imposed (wallet-protecting!) rules this automatically puts it out-of-scope, but in this case I had to make an exception. Sadly, I’m not prepared to pay hundreds of pounds for it, but I do have the bootleg (boooo!). All four tunes are in!
  • I have also included in the mix the first Ram LP (vinyl release), The Speed of Sound. This is a superb album. Approximately half the tunes are all time classics and rest are merely ‘really good’. ‘Cause N Effect’ and ‘Orange Sunshine’ still get a lot of airtime from me, and the Truly One VIP is my favourite version of that tune. My justification for inclusion is that even though the records labels themselves had ditched the sheep’s head logo, the sheep’s head does appear on the reverse of the LP sleeve. The entire LP is in!
  • The last tune of the mix is the ’96 remix of Valley of the Shadows, and rolls out by itself for over 4 minutes. I couldn’t help but think “What would Andy C do?” Answer: tease other tunes over-top, of course! But I’m all out of Ram sheep years tunes? Oh no! Luckily, Origin Unknown were also prolific remixers, so I pulled out The Dark Stranger and Drum, Bass & Piano remixes they did around the same period. Personal favourites.

The Mix

This was probably the most fun I’ve had yet doing mixes for this site. With so many amazing tunes to get through I was forced to go in Andy C-style and tear through tracks rapidly. This resulted in loads of teases and double drops. In all fairness, most of these old Ram tunes are not the kind you want to roll out for 6 minutes anyway, so it worked out fine.

Lastly, what were my favourite tunes? It may be too obvious, but the original Valley of the Shadows is untouchable, and always fun to mix… one of those rare tunes that goes well with almost anything. Quest and Night Flight are incredible tunes that everyone plays. Danger Zone is a great track noone plays. Goes Around remix is another personal fave. Within Reason original mix is another one I can’t put down.

So there you go, all the early Ram vinyls with the sheep’s head logo (plus bonuses), mixed up for your pleasure. Get involved!

Download MP3 320kbps 78mins

Next month

Less jungle. More screwface neuro dnb. Have it.

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