In 2021 we published Who Say Reload: The Stories Behind the Classic Drum & Bass Records of the 90s, an oral history of the records that defined jungle/drum & bass. Now author Paul Terzulli has compiled a Who Say Reload album. However, where the book focused solely on classics and anthems, the compilation takes a different route.
Like the book, the album covers the genre’s 90s golden era and the many styles of D&B are represented. Pioneering producers and crowd-pleasing favourites sit alongside a few sought-after obscurities by the unsung heroes of the scene. Most importantly, there are some absolute bangers!
The 16 tracks are spread over two volumes of 2 x 12″s, and there is also a 12-track digital version. Volume one is out now and volume two and the digital version will come out on March 24. Here Paul Terzulli gives us a track-by-track guide to the compilation.
To celebrate its release, there’s a launch party at The Social in London on 9 March. Old skool specialist DJ Jay Cunning will join the book’s co-authors, Paul Terzulli and Eddie Otchere, to play special 90s jungle and drum & bass sets. Tickets are £7 but you can get free entry to the launch party by buying the compilation on vinyl for only £27 (note you must collect it on the night, though).
DJ Tamsin & The Monk – A Better Place (DJ Trace remix) (White House Records, 1993)
This one was a late addition when we were compiling the album but its inclusion seems to have got a lot of attention, as the 12” is hard to come by and quite expensive. White House Records have an immense catalogue, including classics like Criminal Minds’ Baptised By Dub and Calling All The People by A-Zone, as well as releases by the likes of Remarc and Ellis Dee. This early DJ Trace remix might be a bit more under the radar but it’s stood the test of time and is a great example of the sound that was running things in late ‘93.
If you like this try: DJ Crystl – Warp Drive (Deejay)
Nookie – Shining In Da Darkness (Reinforced, 1993)
Taken from the Return of Nookie EP, this is an undisputed anthem from a period when the lines between jungle and hardcore were still blurred. The uplifting pianos that defined 1992 were still prevalent in breakbeat tracks, rather than just to 4/4 happy hardcore to which they would eventually be confined by 1994.
If you like this try: Nookie – Give A Little Love (Reinforced)
Origin Unknown – Valley Of The Shadows (Long Dark mix) (Ram Records, 1993)
The original is undoubtedly one of the biggest D&B tunes of all time, so with that in mind, I decided to go with this lesser-spotted remix. Twisting up the intro and keeping the main parts of the tune intact, this is a good one to drop when you need to play a recognisable tune but don’t want to draw for the version that everyone knows.
If you like this try: Origin Unknown – The Touch (Ram)
Chimeira – Deeper Life (Back2Basics, 1994)
Birmingham’s Back2Basics label was responsible for some huge tracks in the mid-90s and this was no exception, receiving regular play from the top DJs when it came out. A tough Amen track that still has soul to it, the duo behind this went on to establish themselves as members of Cause4Concern and Serial Killaz, respectively.
If you like this try: Ascend & Ultravibe – What Kind Of World (Back2Basics)
DJ Nut Nut – Special Dedication (Hard Step, 1994)
A top-tier piece of ragga jungle from Nut Nut, this is a great example of the sort of tunes that were doing damage in the golden era of Jungle Fever, Roast and AWOL. Top Cat’s vocals were everywhere back then and are used to great effect here, preceded by the voice of the one and only David Rodigan in the intro.
If you like this try: DMS & Boneman X – Sweet Vibrations (FX Recordings)
Omni Trio – Renegade Snares (Foul Play remix) (Moving Shadow, 1993)
A flawless piece of music regardless of genre. Rob Haigh approached things from a different angle than the average jungle producer, and when Foul Play tweaked things to give it a bit of extra energy for the dancefloor, a rave classic was born. Constantly in demand for the last 30 years, so you know we had to make it available for anyone who still has that gap in their collection.
If you like this try: Foul Play – Open Your Mind – Nookie remix (Moving Shadow)
Slipmatt – Breaking Free (DJ SS Rollers remix) (Awesome, 1994)
As one of the pioneers of the rave scene, Slipmatt made his mark when he hit big with SL2. By 1994 he was playing both jungle and happy hardcore in his sets and this track encapsulates that period perfectly. Leicester’s DJ SS stamps his signature Formation Records vibe on the track and the result is a no-nonsense killer that ripped up the big raves like World Dance and Dreamscape.
If you like this try: DJ SS – Rollidge (Formation)
Rude Bwoy Monty – Steppa’s Anthem (Frontline, 1994)
Ganja Kru affiliate Rude Bwoy Monty had a nice run of heavy hitters around 94-95, with Warp 10 (aka The Rocky Tune) perhaps being his best-known release. Steppa’s Anthem sits nicely alongside DJ Hype’s early Ganja Records releases as the blueprint for what would become referred to as jump-up.
If you like this try: L Double – The Mad Phunk (Flex)
Omni Trio – Soul Promenade (Nookie remix) (Moving Shadow, 1994)
Not quite as ubiquitous as Renegade Snares but equally as brilliant, this Nookie remix is about as good as drum & bass gets. I’ll freely admit to putting this one on the album because I don’t have a copy on vinyl and it’s not cheap on Discogs!
If you like this try: Peshay – Piano Tune (Good Looking)
Prisoners Of Technology – Trick Of Technology (Fresh Kutt, 1996)
A hell of a debut release which was a mainstay in Nicky Blackmarket and DJ Hype’s sets throughout late 96 and early 97, and was a tricky one to find on vinyl at the time. The POT lads had a knack for no-holds-barred, sample-heavy jump-up, with ridiculous basslines, and would go on to apply their magic touch to remixes of NWA’s Dopeman and the Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic, amongst others.
If you like this try: Special K – Knowledge (Proper Talent)
Dope Skillz – 6 Million Ways (Frontline, 1995)
The first of a series of DJ Zinc releases on Pascal’s Frontline label, 6 Million Ways picks up where the massive Super Sharp Shooter left off, this time with a Redman sample and what would become Zinc’s trademark bassline. One of the first wave of hip hop-influenced D&B tracks that set the tone for the next couple of years.
If you like this try: A Sides – Punks (Strictly Underground)
Amazon II – King Of The Beats (Aphrodite, 1996)
Definitely a man with a knack for a floor filler, Aphrodite had things on lock for pretty much the whole of the 90s, starting with Some Justice in 1991. King Of The Beats preceded a run of releases that included Bad Ass, Drop Top Caddy, Dub Moods and remixes for Blackstreet, Jungle Brothers, Luniz and many more. A big beefy intro of old skool hip hop drums before launching into that distinctive Aphrodite sound, this still sounds fresh today and the production is definitely a cut above a lot of D&B from this era.
If you like this try: Natural Born Chillers – Rock the Funky Beat (Urban Takeover remix) (East West)
Wax Doctor – Heat (R&S, 1996)
While Goldie and Roni were getting all the media attention in 1996, Wax Doctor was also pushing things forward and raising the standard of D&B production. His releases on R&S perhaps get overlooked as it’s not a traditional D&B label, but they are well worth investigating. Heat is the kind of track that could well have been made with Fabio and Bukem’s legendary night Speed in mind.
If you like this try: Wax Doctor – Selected Works 94-96 (R&S)
Roni Size/Reprazent – Watching Windows (DJ Die Gnarly instrumental remix) (Talkin Loud, 1998)
As accomplished as the New Forms LP was, it was the remixes the album spawned that really got played in the raves. Die’s instrumental mix of Watching Windows contorts the track into something quite filthy and sinister. Proof that the Full Cycle crew weren’t afraid to get dark and dirty with the best of them.
If you like this try: DJ Trace – Sonar (Prototype)
Jonny L – Wish U Had Something (XL Recordings, 1998)
Since debuting in 1992 with the rave classic Hurt You So, Jonny L has demonstrated his versatility and turned his hand to techno and UK garage, but D&B seems to be where he really excels. Wish U Had Something is one of the highlights of his Sawtooth LP on XL Recordings, which also gave us the massive tune Piper.
If you like this try: Cybotron ft Dillinja – Light Years (Prototype)
Optical – Bounce (31 Records, 1998)
To say that Optical’s output around ’97-’98 was prolific is an understatement. As well as launching Virus Recordings with Ed Rush and dropping the iconic Wormhole LP, he somehow found time to give Grooverider a hand with his productions and also dropped essential releases on Moving Shadow, Prototype and Metalheadz. There was also this tune on Doc Scott’s 31 Records. Backed with the equally fat The End part 1, Bounce is a must-have for any fans of the early Virus sound.
If you like this try: Ed Rush & Optical – Watermelon (Virus)