One of my all-time favourite drum & bass tracks is Soul Beat Runna by Boymerang. It spent the best part of 1996 on dubplate — played regularly by Fabio and Grooverider on their Friday night Kiss FM show — and finally got released on Regal in April 1997. The track is famous for using a re-engineered version of the original Amen break that was handcrafted by Boymerang himself, and which has since been sampled in countless drum & bass releases. However, I recently discovered that there was also an official music video made for this track (which I assume was also done in 1997).
What’s striking to me about this video is that it plays on a number of cinematographic themes later encountered in The Matrix trilogy, such as dodging bullets in slow motion, long chase scenes involving identikit-looking agents, seemingly supernatural teleportation powers and dreams of falling off a skyscraper that ultimately become reality. I wonder if the Wachowskis saw this video before incorporating many of these elements into their films?
This is the second tape I’m posting from my recovered archives. Nowadays, anyone who follows urban dance music will have heard of Rinse FM. However, newer listeners may not be aware of the station’s pirate origins prior to obtaining Ofcom’s community radio license in 2011:
Rinse FM is universally recognised as having played a key role in the emergence of grime and dubstep in the early 2000s and there are many recordings from this period of the station’s history available online. Although Rinse started out as a jungle and drum & bass station in back in 1994, there are relatively few recordings around from their pre-grime/garage days. I happened to tune in to one of their shows on one rainy Saturday afternoon in November 1997 and hit the record button. Note the regular shouts-outs going out to Wiley.
In the years between 1995 and 1999 I recorded a number of tapes of London’s pirate radio stations. Pirate radio was my gateway into the world of jungle music, as I was just shy of the minimum age limit to be (legally) admitted into raves. I remember countless nights when I would be sitting by my table-top FM radio and listening to the likes of Kool FM, Eruption, Rude FM and Don FM. Whenever I would hear something that I would really like, I’d throw in a blank audio cassette and start recording, although I had to make a careful decision each time as good quality tapes were not cheap!
Those years marked the evolution of jungle into drum & bass, and every few months a slightly different yet distinct sub-genere would emerge that is still possible to date with accuracy today. It was an exciting time to be listening to the pirates, as well as to legal stations like Kiss FM and the iconic One In The Jungle show on BBC Radio One. I was pleased with my growing tape collection and felt like I was documenting an important part of the UK’s music history. I also had quite a few pre-1995 tapes, which were copied for me by a friend to help me catch up on what I had missed out on in the early jungle days.
What happened next was heartbreaking: while I was away from home, a flooding accident damaged a lot of our possessions, and it appeared that all of my tapes had perished alongside. That’s what I carried on thinking for about 20 years and until last week, when we discovered that many of these tapes were in fact preserved and had been quietly sitting in a cardboard box in my brother’s garage ever since!
The tapes seem to have survived huge temperature and humidity variations, which simply amazes me. I’ll be gradually digitising and uploading them in the next few months. Rediscovering these tapes feels like entering a time capsule and brings up a mixture of emotions ranging from wistful nostalgia to happiness and gratitude. Below is a July 1997 recording of Life FM, a somewhat short-lived pirate station of which I couldn’t find any other recordings online.
This mix was supposed to be the sequel to Junglist Credentials Part 1, but when I finished it I realised that it has a very different sound so I decided to give it a new name instead of simply calling it “Part 2”.
The idea behind it is the same, however: to recreate the atmosphere I experienced while listening to London’s pirate radio as a teenager in the mid-90s. The track listing dates back to circa 1994 and once again there are a few lesser known tunes thrown into it for good measure.
This mix contains a selection of Jungle tracks that I heard on London’s pirate radio in the mid-90s. The tracks are lesser known but for me they define the moment when Jungle was just forming as a genre, still very much underground yet flourishing for those who knew where to look and listen.