A lot can be said for putting together charts of music. One thing that is certain is that not everyone will agree but then is that really the goal in putting them together?
With jungle music firmly back in the spotlight it’s probably the right time to get together a collection of true jungle tracks and either educate the masses or just celebrate everything that was once so fresh and unique.
Jungle, a genre that has been kicking around now for 25 odd years and for those lucky enough to live through the explosion of Amen breaks first hand it was certainly a special time. Watching the evolution from acid house to hardcore was certainly something special but it was when things started to get dark was when it got really interesting.
It was also a time when ravers passion for the scene started getting personal and plenty of white gloved revellers objected to this new darkside sound emerging from London city. You only have to listen back to DJ sets from ‘94 to hear hardcore MCs strongly promoting “coming out of the darkness and into the light”. Not that this would eventually worry anyone and with events actively pushing mixed genre nights everything would work out in the end just fine… for a while.
Here’s some of the finest cuts of jungle in no particular order which will hopefully paint a picture as to what was really flying the flag for the genre and not just a quickly bashed together top 20 of easy licensed tracks for a supermarket compilation.
Title: How Dark It Is
Artist: Double H Productions
Label: Global Dance Records
Taken from ‘The Swinging In The Trees EP’ this superb track combines that ever so popular element of dark, twisted synth stabs with mashed up breakbeats and 4/4 segments not forgetting the memorable vocal sample “I can’t believe how dark it is”.
Title: In Jeopardy
Artist: DJ Eruption
Label: United Dance Recordings
While this track from Eruption clings onto the hardcore scene it successfully breaks into elements of early jungle demonstrating that even producers of the much celebrated happy side of hardcore can make a great breakbeat jungle tune. Granted a piano riff is featured here but if you’re crossing the lines in ‘93, you’re going to be mixing elements of genres that’s for sure.
Title: A Special Request
Artist: Smokey Joe
Label: Labello Blanco Recordings
Paving the way for the lesser known producers back then was Smokey Joe who eventually came to produce some massive drum and bass anthems a few years later. This track from ‘94 featured in a ton of DJ sets and was certainly a firm favourite at the Jungle Fever DJ box. If you like this, you need to check ‘Smokin Hornz’ which was released in ‘95.
Title: Firin Line
Artist: Danny Breaks
Label: Droppin’ Science
Don’t be fooled by it’s mellow introduction, this is as tough as they come for ‘94. Imagine making this bassline in the studio, potentially unaware of the devastation it would cause on a big soundsystem. Dangerous is certainly an understatement. If you’re playing this track and thinking you may have heard the “ready on the left” sample before, it’s because it also features on ‘Ready on the Left’ by Pressure Crew, released in 1998.
Title: Dawn Of The Fever
Artist: DJ Hype
Label: Suburban Base Records
By this point in time, DJ Hype was well known for his production and DJ skills alike and this tune was no exception to introduce the masses to roughneck jungle breakbeats. If you were picking this 12” up for the ‘Roll The Beats’ remix featuring MC GQ, flipping this over and playing ‘Dawn Of The Fever’ would certainly take you by surprise as it’s blatant hard nosed mashed up breakbeats was, at the time, pretty damn fresh.
Title: Special Dedication
Artist: DJ Nut Nut
Label: Hard Step Records
Hard step, a sub genre championed by DJ Rap and a few others. Was it actually a sub genre though or just jungle with less beats? Either way we bloody loved it and this fine example by DJ Nut Nut was THE perfect intro tune for every single DJ in 1994 that had a pair of Technics, Soundlabs, Pro 150’s or anything else that would play vinyl.
Top Cat’s vocals provided that perfect element of atmosphere and the bass that would hit afterwards had you shivering for days.
Artist: The Dream Team
Label: Suburban Base Records
Way before Joker Records and the multitude of comedy jump up tracks, The Dream Team (AKA Brian Johnson and Dean Vincent) make some polished jungle tunes and this one via Suburban Base was no exception. The way the mashed up Amen breakbeat would just stand still always seemed to put both the crowd and MC off guard momentarily before “the warriors are coming” vocals dropped in. This was certainly beat slicing in the best possible way at the time. Brutal!
Title: The Intro
Artist: DJ SS
Label: Formation Records
I couldn’t publish a jungle chart without including DJ SS, he was probably one of the first producers of the time to craft a label that had it’s unique sound which also developed year on year. You could always walk into a record store, hear a Formation Records tune and instantly know what label to search for regardless of the producer. Before ‘Lighter’ was ‘The Intro’. In some respects this was ultimately the foundation for how successful the piano intro movement became, many copied but only a handful succeeded.
Title: DJ Taktix
Artist: The VIP (Final Chapter)
Label: Back 2 Basics
Memories of The Sanctuary come flooding back whenever any version of this tune is played. I chose this one because it’s far more DJ friendly in terms of its intro, contains a hefty reggae sample and it also came on see through vinyl which was a nice touch. I’m sure you all know the original version of this tune featuring the vocals of Mad P. Ladies, this one you.
Title: Osmosis (DJ Ratty remix)
Artist: Jumping Jack Frost
Label: Formation Records
The original ‘Osmosis’ tune was wicked but the Ratty remix was something else. While it was released in 1994, a good year since breakbeat hardcore was running the scene, it still managed to contain some great elements of both uplifting vibes and darkside terrors. In some respects, it went back in time, grabbed all the decent elements and updated them for the ‘94 scene. What you will also notice is that it contained a 4/4 kick drum in parts, easy does it!
Title: What Kind of World
Artist: Asend & Ultravibe
Label: Back 2 Basics
Another favourite for DJs introducing their sets, this one also went well with 200 litres of dry ice and a few lazers. The synth pads really did provide a huge element of atmosphere, especially at the likes of World Dance where the aircraft hanger at Lydd Airport was populated frequently by thousands of die hard junglists (and DJ Dougal). Another Amen fest that, for it’s time, was somewhat faster than other tunes produced around 1994.
Title: Yo Son
Artist: Dope Skillz (DJ Zinc)
Label: Frontline Records
EVERYONE, yes everyone played the flip of this (6 Million Ways) but the actual groundbreaking, genre defining tune was actually ‘Yo Son’. A tune that had so many layers and diverse elements that it should have obtained cult status. Instead it was totally overshadowed and although supported it certainly deserved much better rotation in DJs record boxes.
Title: Babylon (Remixes)
Label: Dee Jay Recordings
Andy C probably made the original ‘Babylon’ famous for years, especially at his most recent stint at XOYO, however, it was the remixes by Trace and Ray Keith that for some made this tune even more special. It’s hard to choose between the two as they are both so different.
Trace maintains elements of the original yet does a grand job of crafting his unique production sound into the track and in some respects, making it even rugged while Ray Keith does what Ray Keith does and mashes in a multitude of breakbeat and Amen loops which takes the listener on a unique journey.
Obviously the original deserves a huge mention so big up Splash regardless.
Title: All The Crew ‘Big Up’ (95 Lick)
Artist: Roni Size
Label: V Recordings
Quite a few versions of this track exist, including a variety of title variants which wasn’t uncommon back in the mid 90’s. The ‘reverse’ mix which was never released past dubplate was certainly quite a hit however, the 95 Lick mix released on the flip of ‘It’s a Jazz Thing (Ladies Mix)’ was a true dancefloor stormer that crushed jungle ravers into submission after that sneaky piano intro.
Title: Fire (Rogue Unit Remix)
Artist: Prizna Feat. Demolition Man
Label: Labello Blanco
The remix by Urban Shakedown probably played a big part in pushing jungle further into the household however, the Rogue Unit remix really smashed it down hard with tougher mashed up breakbeats that even now stand the test of time.
Title: Lightnin And Tunda
Artist: Rude & Deadly
Label: Unity Records
“Give me a dubplate and we can mash them down”. You can also give a Discogs seller £100 and get a copy of this on vinyl. Some proper ragga infused vocals on this one which drove home that proper homegrown jungle vibe.
It’s worth noting that No Smoking Records released a different version in 1995 titled ‘Give Me A Dub’ and Smokers Inc released a repress of the original in 1997. Both still go for a considerable amount of money.
Title: Girls Dem Want It
Artist: London’s Most Wanted (Ray Keith)
Label: Philly Blunt
Made famous at Pure-X, this absolute slammer by Ray Keith was a great follow up to Frost’s ‘Burial’ on the Philly Blunt label. A winning combination of a DJ friendly intro, sweet female vocals and an infectious Shabba Ranks hook plus the addition of mashed up Amen breaks that Ray Keith always did so well. That’s probably why he’s famous for saying something along the lines of “stick an Amen into a track and it will make everything sound so much better!”.
Title: Hot Flame
Artists: DJ Dextrous & H Pee
Label: Subversive Vinyl
Classic jump up jungle flavour to your ear and one of those tunes that still takes people by surprise. The intro takes samples from Janet Jackson’s ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ blended with heavenly synth pads before throwing out 360 degrees of breakbeats, bass and ragga vocals. A remix was also released in 1996 which sadly didn’t really do the original any justice at all.
The original – absolute murderation!
Title: Maxi (Mun) Style (Nasty Jungle Remix)
Artist: Tom And Jerry
Label: Tom And Jerry
While the original tune in legendary in it’s own right, the Nasty Jungle remix is a sure fire hit to the temple with an unlimited amount of cleverly chopped up breakbeat ammunition. It’s almost done the impossible in some respects in terms of taking an incredible tune and taking it than one step further into the jungle hall of fame.
If you liked this, check Nasty Jungle in his Deadly D alias on Flex Records with ‘Listen Dis’.
Artist: Capone (Dillinja)
Cantankerous breakbeats from one of the masters of production this immense tune is jungle at it’s finest. Rolled out “massive” vocal samples and crashing beats and bass are combined into one hell of an early anthem. The walls of the Paradise Club and Roller Express were no doubt shaken to their core by this one on many occasions.
Certainly a great way to end this list of wicked tunes..
I could add 100’s more tracks to this list, it’s certainly not a Bible of jungle but more of a ‘top 20 tunes that I personally would recommend for a great snapshot into history’. Granted I could have easily knocked up a list of licensing safe tunes for the latest commercial album to fill the supermarket shelves but that really wasn’t the idea here.