UK Dance Music in the Early to Mid 90s
A lot of the electronic house music was produced in Chicago over in the USA during the mid 1980’s. Producers and DJ’s introduced the genre in bars and clubs all over the UK and the rest of Europe by the mid and late 1980’s. The UK took house music, Acid house, Electronic Body Music (formed in Belgium) and created UK Hardcore. The Hardcoresound then incorporated sped up Hip Hop beats, piano strings, dub and sound samples that can only be described as cartoon like.
Hardcore opened the door to other similar sounding genres like Happy Hardcore and jungle. Happy Hardcore sped up to between 160 BPM– 180 BPMand included piano and techno sound samples. Jungle set at around 150 BPM to 170 BPM to include Reggae vocalist artists and Reggae sound samples and lost the piano and Techno influence. You would now associate original hardcore with ‘Old Skool Hardcore‘ and a lot of popular songs are still being played out by DJ’s all over the world today in 2013.
By 1992 the Hardcore scene, or also known as the Rave scene was huge and rife all over the UK. Crowds of people in their thousands would flock in to empty warehouses and open land for illegal raves to take drugs and dance to hardcore for up to 10 hours at a time.
Of Course there were legal raves such as the famous fantasia which started up 1991 and they in fact counted 30,000 people at One Step Beyond! This really was the beginning of the club and dance scene that we know so much about today. There were so many big name producers such as The Prodigy releasing ‘You Love’ back in 1991 which is one of the biggest dance tracks of all time. Various other big name British producers such as SL2 with ‘Way in my Brain’ and of course one of the most famous acts ‘The Ratpack’ with ‘Searchin’ for My Rizla” who really did bring Hip Hop in to the mix with their vocal and sound samples.
Old Skool had become commercial and ‘Searchin for My Rizla’ went straight to number one beating massive acts such as Madonna and Kriss Kross to the number one spot in the charts. Most radio stations didn’t add ‘Searchin for my Rizla’ to their play-list as it was blatantly a song about taking drugs! When dance music finds its way in to the commercial scene it can sometimes mean the end of the underground scene where Hardcore was at the start of the 1990’s and this was evident with the release of Sesame Street – hardcore mix. This Old Skool sound and beat is timeless and still used in today’s dance songs and main steam pop records.
From Hardcore developed ‘Jungle’ music which had a fast tempo beat at 145 BPM and became big in the UK dance scene around 1992 with big name DJ’s such as Fabio & Groove Rider and SHY FX. Jungle was very Black orientated and included Reggae samples, lyrics and dub sounds and in 1994 one of the most famous Jungle tracks entered the charts with M-Beat on “Incredible”. Shy FX English-born DJ is still making the charts today releasing Jungle / Drum & Bass beats and vocals also has had a massive influence on the genre. He is famous for such tracks as ‘Jungle Love’ released in 1992 and then the massive ‘Original Nuttah’ released in 1994. Jungle peaked around 1994 – 1995 when the UK charts became packed with jungle music and developed in to ‘Drum & Bass’ which was losing the Reggae sound and developing more Dub and grime samples. Drum & Bass sped up again to between to 160BPM and 180BPM and found its own niche within the dance music scene. It is as big today (if not much bigger) than it was during the mid 1990’s when it came about and many big name DJ’s such as SHY FX, DJ Fresh and Chase & Status have taken the genre global by releasing tracks in to the mainstream charts. Drum & Bass is unique and special in many ways as it remains very popular within the underground scene and within the mainstream market. There aren’t many genres of music that can achieve this!
Also during the early 1990’s US Garage, or Garage House made its way across the pond to the UK bringing top named DJ’s over such as Todd Terry, Masters At Work, Todd Edwards and more. This sound emerged in New York taking elements of Chicago house and developing its own beat and bringing in disco elements that we know from the 1970’s. The release of possible the biggest dance track of all time ‘Show me Love’ by Robin S in 1993 took the UK dance scene by storm and opened the Garage scene. The genre incorporated 4 x 4 beats that were more shuffled hi-hats, chopped up vocal samples, beat skipping kick drums and some tunes had harder bass-lines became Speed Garage which was the birth of UK Garage, or today known as UK G. This genre of music attracted a lot of the old Jungle fans with similar sounding bass lines and vocals, although a lot of the DJ’s were playing dub (instrumental) versions, which made room for MC’s. This made UK Garage even more popular among dance music lovers and crowds of people poured in to venues to hear the DJ spin the records and the MC rhyme to the vocals and sound samples.. By the Mid 1990’s the genre was mainstream and many big name DJ’s such as Armand Van Helden’s mix of Tori Amos ‘Professional Widow, Double 99 and ‘RIP Groove’ featuring Top Cat. More and more tracks were mixing up styles bring in R&B, reggae and house music influences. Speed Garage today is better known as bass-line house and is very much in the underground scene with the odd commercial track being realised. By 1997 2-Step Garage was born and the release of Tina Moore ‘Never Gonna Let you Go’ opened the gates to a successful future for UK Garage.