Red Light

RedLight2In and around 1994 the jungle scene was changing. Even though the sound had never been more popular there was internal division as to how the sound should be progressed. In one camp sat those who believed that the way forward was to eschew the trappings of hardcore rave tunes, stop the reliance on sampling each others’ music, and to move towards a more technical and considered approach. This direction led to the evolution of techstep and eventually neurofunk in the mid-late 90s. Similarly, there were those who believed the future lay in richer and more original musical arrangements, taking influence from jazz, classical music, and contemporary music in general. These were the antecedents of jazzstep in the mid 90s and then liquid drum and bass later on.

At the same time, there was still a significant demand for punter-friendly dancefloor tunes that retained the Jamaican soundclash-style ragga influences that had been a notable component of jungle and hardcore tunes since the beginning. These influences were often among the first that were let go by so-called ‘intelligent jungle’ producers as markers of an outmoded style. As a result, despite being wildly popular, ragga jungle existed almost on its own as a separate branch of jungle music – and so the annoying tendency to categorise every jungle/drum and bass track within very narrow, arbitrary and obscure subgenres (as I have just done!) began.

Red Light was set up in 1994 by rave pioneers Shut Up and Dance as an outlet for the ragga-style jungle tunes they were making at the time. Aka PJ and Smiley, Shut Up and Dance released numerous early rave scene classics on their SUAD label. Unfortunately, at the height of their success, SUAD were made an example of by the music industry for using uncleared samples on the monster hit Raving I’m Raving. Although this didn’t cause the label to completely shut down, it’s clear that the episode had an effect on SUAD’s output from then on. As such, Red Light became something of a safe haven – a cozy jungle sandpit where SUAD could continue to do their thing in their own fashion, with limited run releases, away from the glare of scene politics and the distractions that can bring. This mix features the output of those sessions.

I wont go too far into the history of SUAD but if you want to read more there is a brilliant in-depth interview with PJ himself over at Blogtotheoldskool. SUAD have their own website too.

All of the releases on Red Light share a particularly unified sound thanks to shared and heavy sampling of various Jamiacan sound clash tapes across all of the tracks. If you took a shot for every time the same “Massive!”, “Get me!”, and “Oh God!” samples surface in the mix this month you’d be a dead man three times over.

There are two big anthems on Red Light. Coca Cola is a straight up ragga tune well-known for sampling the vocals from Simpleton’s Coca Cola Shape but Bastards is something else… instantly recognisable by its “Keep jumpin’ ya bastards!” vocal sample (by PJ himself) the clattering breaks and heavy warp bass smash forward to create the perfect dancefloor smasher. “We’re stompin now!” indeed.

Another Red Light release that I must shout out is Hunt and Seek / Selekta. Both tracks are similar to Bastards in that they hit hard, and bass sits really well in the mix. On Selekta in particular the breakbeat choppage is just ridiculous. As with most of the Red Light tunes, Selekta is bare bones, often just one or two channels running at the same time (drums and bass!). But what SUAD do within those limitations is true Amen artistry. Highly recommended! Here’s this other blogger who bigs up Selekta.

So, in summary, all of the Red Light releases are well worth tracking down. They’re probably the most pure examples “ragga jungle” you are ever likely to find, and they were doing it first alongside only a very small number of other labels at the time… Suburban Base, Tearin Vinyl, etc. Unfortunately due to their limited nature, most releases on Red Light seem to be undergoing the dreaded Discogs price-gouging right now and are not cheap. Upwards of £50 seems to be about standard which is a fair chunk of change for a crusty jungle record. Despite this, any Red Light is a buy on sight item in my book.

Red Light was wound up after only 8 releases (9 if you count the Black Tracks release, see below) having, in the words of SUAD themselves “run its course”, pretty much like jungle music really. SUAD, like so many of jungle’s biggest names, went on to become major players in the UK Garage scene over the next decade. Long live the nuum!

Tracklist

Hunt & Seek
Somebody SUAD Remix
Selekta
Coca Cola
Kunta
Bastards
Wow Yeh
Roots Rock
Skylarking
The Burial
Look Good
Fire
Sensi
Killer Sound Boy Nitty Gritty Remix
Killer Sound Boy Nitty Gritty
Wanted
Liquidator
Bastards Remix
> Coca Cola Remix
Get Up
Somebody
Ruling
Murder Tonight

Bonus Features

Black Tracks Vol 1 – this was the only ever release on the Red Light sub-label, Black Tracks. I’m not quite sure why the need was felt to release the tracks on the new label as both Skylarking and Liquidator could have easily sat as tunes on Red Light itself, but there you go.

Blackman – Bastards / Coca Cola Remix – Although both Bastards and Coca Cola were out on Red Light first, this release was done on the main Shut Up and Dance label. I’m guessing they wanted to capitalise on both tunes being big. Fair play! This release features a repress of Bastards and a similar-sounding remix of Coca Cola.

Blackman – Kunta / Wanted – Again, two more big jungle tunes from ‘Blackman’ aka PJ and Smiley, put out on SUAD, which would have been perfectly at home on Red Light itself. This release as well as Bastards/Coca Cola on SUAD are well worth a look as there are many more copies about compared to the limited Red Lights. As such, they can still be had for very reasonable prices. Bargain!

Red Light – Ruling Feat. Garnet Silk – this came out on one of the Jungle Hits compilation albums put out out by Street Tuff / Jet Star, and as far as I know this is the only place you can find the tune. I have the shitty four-tracks-per-side vinyl but there is a CD version which I presume includes the full (or maybe edited?) track in crystal clear digital.

The mix

Download MP3 320kbps 54 mins

DnB classics mix from 2003

Yo. Happy fricken 2016, peeps!

This is one of those rare “not a label mix” posts as a belated holiday season gift for you all. The last one I did was waaay back in 2014. This month’s mix is a personal favourite of mine – a set I did live, like, for real, in 2003 in a teensy tiny club in Christchurch, New Zealand, of all places, the name of which I forget but I’m sure it was an animal of some kind. Definitely not a turtle or a puffin. All ten people on the dancefloor were having a good time, believe you me, and no fisticuffs broke out. I presume due to the sheer skill of the DJ. The place smelled strongly of stale shit-NZ-beer and students.

What I love most about this selection is that it perfectly encapsulates my own personal memories of that late-90s, early-2000s style of DnB, which was ‘my era’ from both a raving and tunes perspective when I was all adorable and shiny and chrome… before Pendulum apparently ruined everything with the release of Hold Your Colour.

I joke of course.

Not really:/

Ok I do.

Love you, Pendeez! If you bookend an entire era of music that’s probably a good indication you’re doing it right…

The late 90s / early-2000s was when DnB was recovering from its then-recent attempts to socially cleanse the scene of anything remotely female, and the sound was reincorporating earlier influences again. Jazz-step suddenly returned as ‘Liquid’ and tech-step was re-imagined as ‘Neurofunk’. Oldskool hardcore stabs and breakbeats were back as if they’d never been usurped by filtered Reese basslines and squelchy stuff at all. It was an immensely rich and evolving time for drum and bass music.

The mix is complete and unashamed anthem-bashing, but what anthems they are! From all time tease-classics like The Nine, Messiah, Titan and Alien Girl, through to personal top Bad Company tunes Nitrous and Flashback (Tumpa). The Total Science remix of Champion Sound is probably my top 1 favourite track of all time – I vividly recall going mental to this when I heard it for the first time at a Grooverider gig. To this day I still get caught ‘singing’ the breakdown when Champion Sound comes on at raves. An utterly epic and wonderful hands in the air classic.

So, with love, from me to you. Happy new year peeps. New actual real blog post coming soon – it’s gonna be jungle-tastic.

Oh by the way, you can now get all of the blog mixes sent to your phone with no effort if you subscribe to the podcast. It’s taken me two years to figure this shit out.

John B – Up All Night rmx
Mosus and Killjoy – I Like it Rough
Marcus Intalex and ST Files – Barracuda
Tech Itch & Kemal – The Calling
Keaton & Hive – The Plague
> Q Project – Champion Sound (Total Science Remix)
Ed Rush, Optical, & Fierce – Alien Girl
Dillinja – Thugged Out Bitch
> Bad Company – The Nine
Dillinja – Aint Too Loud
Bad Company – More Fire
Dom & Roland – Dynamo
Bad Company – Nitrous
Distorted Minds – Warriors
Distorted Minds – Fight Club
Simon Bassline Smith and Drumsound – Fallin’
> Trace and Ryme Tyme – Move VIP
Concord Dawn – Morning Light
Raiden – All Out War
Dillinja – Twist Em Out
Bad Company & Trace – Flashback (Tumpa)
DJ Marky and XRS – Closer
J Majik – The Lizard
Ram Trilogy – Titan
Konflict – Messiah
Ram Trilogy – Beast Man
DJ Zinc – Super Sharp Shooter Remix

Download MP3 320kbps 80mins

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