The Best Drum 'n' Bass Tracks Ever!
"...I'm a junglist..."
First there was acid house, which became rave, when manifested into breakbeat, then jungle, and finally drum 'n' bass. It can be argued that DnB has mutated into Dubstep, but I'm not letting go - not yet.
Since the late 90s, I've been an avid DnB/junglist, both as a listener and as a DJ (nothing serious, but was DJ'ing on the 'net regularly at one point).
Below is my list of all-time greatest DnB tunes. It's in no way finished, and if you have a particular favourite, let's hear it!
Heavyweight - DJ Fresh
I was always a bit unsure about Fresh - some of his tracks border on the comical, and his commercialisation into dubstep is cringeworthy. However, all these thoughts were laid to rest once I had my wig split open by the massive rising bassline on this track. Quality tune.
Black - DJ SS
Displaying an intelligent mix of breaks, snares, and menacing bass that was the signature of late 90's drum 'n' bass, it doesn't get any better than Black, although the "I will always love you" sample isn't really needed. Again, a dark tune.
Night Flight - Shimon & Andy C
A slow and easy build-up of bass and snares cumulate in frantic breaks. Dark.
Renegade Snares - Omni Trio
OK, a bit Jungle-y, but still a massive tune that sometimes crops up in present mixes. An emotional piano riff, female vocals, and snares make this a firm DnB classic.
Ra! (Original Sin Remix) - Ebony Dubsters
Considering the nonsensical sample "By the power of Ra" which sounds like something uttered by Ron Burgandy, this track is raw. I had the original mix on vinyl, which was also a stormer but not to the extend of the Original Sin mix, who turn this up to 11.
Ghost Town - D-Minds
Sounds like it should be a lovely track to start with; quiet, simplistic, almost tuneful. Then it hits you; a thumping marching bassline with nasty analogue riffs threading through it. I can't help but get busy whenever I hear this.
Peace, Love and Unity - DJ Hype
For the record, I don't like Hype. I don't like his scratching over DnB sessions, I don't like his absolute inisistence on having his name over everything he plays. He's even got Hype versions of songs. The guy is ballin', but it's not what I listen to DnB for.
Anyway, there is not one person on this earth that hasn't heard this track. MC Fats says his piece, then a massive bassline kicks in. It's a perfect formula and has ripped apart many speaker cones no doubt.
Being With You - Foul Play
There wasn't many soulful jungle tracks in the '90s - it wasn't a genre that lent itself for "beautiful" music, rather one to go crazy at and get mashed up.
Foul Play were different. Foul Play were dipping into the intelligent side of breaks that LTJ Bukem would make so popular a little later. Being With You is a hugely important, but not a popular track - mainly because it is a work of art in a genre that wasn't that artful. Drum sequences jump in and out, stop, then change. Samples are carefully laid into the song without overpowering the track. It is a rare gem that didn't get much recognition.
Oh Gosh! - Undercover Agent
There is nothing to hate about this tune. Beautiful harp-like samples, breaks, thudding basslines, and vocal samples sets the tune up to be a nice pleasing affair. Then... oh gosh! Immensely popular, got chewed out for many years, and had people dancing in the streets. Kinda.
Deez Breakz - Lynx
A tribute to DnB - this track is a test to see how many references you can identify. A good track, but a little forced vocally. Forgivable, as it does make DnB veterans smile.
Midnight - MIST
Bright and lively, I dare anyone not to like this tune. Strangely, violins play a key role in this track, and the vocals aren't cheesy or crap either. Brilliant, top-quality tune.
Feelings - Shy FX
Can you remember when Shy FX announced he was retiring? I can...although can't find any references to it anymore. Anyway, good thing he didn't - Diary of a Digital Soundboy was a cracking album, although the instruments used on all the tracks did make it sound a bit same-y.
Play Feelings to a crowd and watch them go mad. The bassline, guitar samples, and of course the "I feel for you baby" vocal.
LK - DJ Marky
LK brought the brazilian flavour to the DnB community - and hard. The vocal version is not my favourite, but does get crowds singing "It's the way!" Incidentally, if you ever want a good DnB sesh, you'll probably like The Brazilian Job by Marky.
Fire - Prizna & Demolition Man
Fire seemed like the true junglists' response to that "Incredible" tune. Shudder. Again, a bit of a theme tune for jungle in its day, and even though it does verge on the cheezy, is worth a listen to. When you're on your own.
Clear Skyz - Die
Massive, massive, MASSIVE tune for me - a proper head-down track, especially when the subs join in. There's a subtle amount of samples fired off through the track, and not things easily identifiable. I think there's a train in there somewhere!
Messiah - Konflict
Now this tune blew me away, BUT only when notched up a few percentage; in its "proper" form, the track is too slow. Way too slow. There are a couple of remixes to this too, all of which aren't bad. The original is the best - big, menacing, stomping, and a bit nasty too!
Turbulence - Moving Fusion
A bit of a hybrid track - reminds me of Clear Skyz and The Chopper, but with a hugely dark bassline. Another head-down affair.
Warhead (RAM Trilogy) - Krust
Right - Warhead sucked. I didn't like the original, yet it got played out everywhere. Then this remix came out, and I was happy. Darker and more "industrial"-sounding, this song is one of my favourite tunes ever, especially the "whah whah" bassline! Interestingly, one of the worst remixes ever came in the form of Warhead - TC remix.
Man of Steel - Vinyl Syndicate
Probably the most incorrectly-attributed track in DnB history - it is generally credited to Aphrodite - Man of Steel hit the clubs and people went crazy. What's interesting is that most tracks containing popular film/TV show tracks usually flop and, if the genre is on its knees, get blamed for killing the culture (just look at rave and the Roobarb and Custard, Charlie, & Parsley-inspired tracks).
Anyway, Man of Steel starts off with the Superman track, then turns into a proper rolling bass-and-snare tune that varies in samples and structure as the track progresses. I have fond memories of this.
Watching Windows (Dj Die Remix) - Roni Size
Watching Wndows, on the Newform album, was a triphop-type track, and wasn't too good compared with the absolute genius of the other offerings. Die doesn't care about that sort of thing. He took WW, ripped its guts out, slapped a wobbling bassline underneath the samples, a rolling drum sequence, and flayed people apart with it. I still get shivers when I hear the build-up of this version.
Square Off - Mask
Dope Dragon was a pseudonym for Roni Size and others, so that they could produce tunes that weren't that polished without affecting their current reputation. Apparently, they used to go out, get wrecked, go back to the studio and produce some tunes. Square Off was one of those tracks.
It is minimal, yet punchy, and instantly recognisable as a Size track thanks to the basslines.
A London Sumpting - Tek 9
This song contains the kind of drum sequences we are unlikely to hear again, and that alone makes me sad. Sad and dark, this track reminds me of walking in the rain for some reason.
Locust - Ed Rush
Another dark tune, way ahead of its time. Starting off quiet and unassuming, the song literally drops its payload in one go with a huge growling basslines and sweeping air effects. Magic.
You're Mine - Potential Badboy
I could slap PB for allowing Hype to personalise this track for himself ("DJ Hype - he'll never let you go") God dammit! The real/true version is a proper singalong track with a simple bassline and drum sequence. Love it - but not the Hype version.
Kryme Watch - Hazard
Hazard is a mental artist. Some of his tracks are unbelievable fusions of TV samples and basslines, and Kryme Watch is one of the best. Some may find this too repetitive, but when it's a great track, it can be as repetitive as it wants to be as far as I'm concerned!
Busted - Hazard
Again, thumping bass and a vocal sample, yet this song's bassline sounds as if speech has been distorted to create its sound. "We're on our way!"
Brown Paper Bag - Roni Size
I went all-out to get Newforms before the release date - I succeeded, but ended up with two copies - all because of this track. The vocal version cheapens the song too much; this song was all about the structure and instruments used.
Pacman - Ed Rush
The remix was the more popular one, and did sound better played out in a set. However, the album version is the more superior one. It is a creeping tune, with strange squealing effects and a stepping rhythm. An interesting tune.
Just a Vision - Marcus Intalex
As is his namesake, MI tracks are always laced with sweeping echoes, sweet vocals and a humming bassline. This particular track is a perfect fusion of vocal and instrumentation, and is a worthy addition to any DnB collection.
No Trouble - Roni Size
As a fellow Bristolian, I find it hard to criticise Size. Newforms provided the soundtrack for a lot of romantic endeavours I was up to at the time, and No Trouble is possibly one of the most perfect DnB tracks ever made. Simple intro for the DJ to mix it in, thumping bassline, good vocals, and a ripping drum sequence. Play this, play it loud.
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