12 inchers

Renegade Soundwave – Biting My Nails (Club Mixes)


I was a big fan of Renegade Soundwave when this was released back in 1990, so it’s a bit of a mystery why I never bought it in the first place. Admittedly “Biting My Nails” wasn’t one of my favourite cuts from their debut Soundclash album, but I’d assumed my devotion was rabid enough to encompass all the 12″ spin-offs. Wrong!

Well, it’s finally found it’s way into my collection 20 years later, following a chance encounter on Kingswood High Street, and I’m very pleased with it, thanks very much. The ‘Sound System Plays A Renegade Tune’ mix in particular still sounds very strong – a stripped-back booming 808 workout. And let’s not forget the graphics: another excellent example of Junior Tomlin’s distinctive airbrush work that graced many a record sleeve of the period. Good gear.


MC Tunez – The North At It’s Height

MC Tunez - The North At It's Height (808 State)

Funnny what you find in village charity shops – picked up 3 late 80s UK Hip-Hop related discs today – for a mere quid for the lot.  Never heard or bought this one back in the day – despite having seen 808 State at various outdoor raves both up around Manchester and in fields around the M25.   They were always a perfect matching for an early morning slot providing a mellow-ish sound-scape to help unravel seriously mashed-up brain-cells!

Therefore, more than a tad disappointed by this one – perhaps it is simply the passing of time – but is has not weathered well at all – everything sounds very under-produced by todays standards, the lyrics just don’t really cut it either – still – a nice little piece of history I suppose – just suprising how dated something can sound to these jaded ears !!

MC Tunez - The North At It's Height (808 State)


Illegal Rave!


Ho ho! Possibly the best ‘ardcore compilation I’ve ever come across in a charity shop, from genuine underground label Strictly Hardcore, “…set up in 1991…dedicated to putting out quality rave tunes…releases limited to only 2000, to stop the commercialisation of the tracks and make them collectable and sought after”, so says the blurb on the rear sleeve.

Artists include DJ Scoobie, Hackney Hardcore and Time Syndicate. The vibe is ruff breakbeats, extreme sub-bass and big riffs, probably cobbled together in bedrooms using Atari STs and Akai S01 samplers.

“Warning: Strictly Hardcore Records accept no responsibility for speaker damage caused by this album” – and those dubstep producers think they invented extreme bass frequencies? Ha!!


Thin Ice 2 – The Second Shiver


Another Telstar dance collection – ’26 coolest club zone hits from the makers of Deep Heat’. There’s a weird schizophrenic vibe here, as though it can’t quite decide what it wants to be. Or maybe just trying to cover too wide a cross-section of da club scene, 1991.

We got bangin’ Belgians (T99, Cubic 22), we got sultry House divas (Crystal Waters), we got mainstream hip hop (Salt ‘n Pepa, PM Dawn), we got UK chart-ravers (Altern 8, The Shamen), we got UK Northern bleepers (LFO, Rhythmatic), we got proto ragga-jungle (Rebel MC), we got disposable pop-soul  (Kenny Thomas) and so on…

We also have the most incomprehensibly dumb pseudo-political sleeve notes ever (sample line: “to kill a dream you don’t just need to kill the dreamer, but everyone he dreams about and whose dreams they inspire” – fuck off, you pretentious prick).The author wisely chose not to be credited.


Megabass 1&2



You gotta hand it to Telstar Records, they knew how to penetrate and exploit a new market. When these came out in 1990, my previous self would’ve probably turned his nose up at such flagrant commercialisation. But then I found them last week nestled together in a dark corner of the CLIC Sargent shop in Fishponds (which had been dry as a bone for months, to the point where I had all but given-up visiting – just goes to show you need a lot of patience in this game!) and I just had to have them.

Points to observe: all the tracks are mixed together with extreme skill and precision by The Mixmasters (Darren Ash & Martin Smith) using lots of razor sharp editing techniques inherited from ’80s bad-asses like The Latin Rascals and Curtis Mantronik. In fact, I’m left wondering how the hell they managed to assemble this lot without the aid of modern-day software. I guess it was all done with a mixture of turntables, samplers and multitrack tape. Listening to the results now is like having a year of your life flashing before you – a cyberdelic nostalgia trip of unrivalled proportions!

The way they mixed-up house, rave and hip hop so effortlessly reminds us how connected those genres were back then, at least to white english kids like me. It was all ‘black’ post-electro music as far as I was concerned, and if you were into De La Soul, you would be into Royal House, Bomb The Bass, Inner City and KLF too. Not forgetting Kid ‘n Play, Technotronic and Stakker Humanoid.

Volume 2, side 2 is the ‘Retrofuture Mix’, which looks back to the decade just past, exhuming the still-fresh corpses of acts like The Sugarhill Gang, Rockers Revenge, Paul Hardcastle, and Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, and setting them back to work in a celebratory dance macabre. Yeah, back to the olde skool!


Heavenly Hardcore


The thing I like about these old hardcore/rave collections is the way they give me instant access to a clutch of tunes that I would’ve been far too snobbish to buy at the time. Rozalla was house music for plebs, yet inevitably her ubiquitous presence permeates through my memories of that period of my early-20s and all the fun and excitement that it entailed, particularly in 1991, when most of these tracks were originally released. 1992 was a very different matter though, as I spent a large proportion of that year helplessly watching my dad slowly dying of cancer (he passed away in November that year), which understandably coloured my mood for the remaining first half of the nineties.

Another interesting point about rave collections from this period is the way they ignore the potential stylistic divisions that demarcate the landscape of club music today. So we have straight-ahead vocal house from Kym Syms happily co-existing with more underground acts like Wishdokta and Shut Up And Dance, and British acts rubbing shoulders with Belgians and Germans – future Basic Channel star Moritz Von Oswald appears in his earlier Marathon guise, remixed by Joey Negro!

A testament to the innocence and unity of the early years of Rave? Or a cynical cash-in by clueless record company scum? Probably the latter but, for me at least, the function of this record has changed.