Heading up Room One with superlative word-smith MC ID, he’s kindly offered to toast the occasion by digging deep through his archives to pull out not 10 but 15 of his ultimate ‘90s d&b tracks…
Sub Focus: I wanted to come up with a list of '90s drum & bass tracks without going for the obvious tracks that everyone knows like 'Circles,' 'Shadow Boxing,' 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Turbulence'. The following selection does not include the most obvious or the most obscure tracks but it does include a few of my personal favourites - tunes that I have in my collection and that some people might know of already. I've hedged my bets a bit by adding some extra recommendations - I grew up with this era of music so there's just too many great tunes to mention.
Peshay - Piano Tune
I was a huge fan of LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking label in the 90’s. The first Logical Progression CD was one of the first d&b albums I bought. This track alongside PFM's 'Danny’s Song' and LTJ Bukem's 'Atlantis' are probably my favourites of this style...
Lemon D - Urban Style Music
This guy is one of my favourite d&b producers of the '90s and, in my opinion, this is his best track. Although I could have also picked '12.01,' 'Going Gets Tough' or Souljah - 'Fade 2 Black'. I love the little 808 b-line that comes in during the intro.
Yazz - Abandon Me (Urban Shakedown Remix)
One of the more commercial tracks on this list but it took me a while to track down this one. I had it on a worn out old mixtape featuring Stevie Hyper D that me and my friend played to death when we were younger. Even now, I sometimes play this one in my sets.
Origin Unknown - Lunar Bass
One of my favourite tracks of a label I would later be a part of. This is great example of the pitch bending alien-sounding sub bass that was their trademark in the mid '90s.
Roni Size Reprazent - Share the Fall (Grooverider’s Jeep Mix)
Grooverider made some banging remixes around this time, his 'Piper' rework is also pretty faultless. I picked this one as the first Reprazent album was huge for me. I still remember watching them win the Mercury Prize live on TV and it felt like the d&b scene was finally getting acclaim by more of the mainstream media. Some incredible remixes came out from this album, DJ Die and Ed Rush and Optical's remixes of 'Watching Windows' are also classics.
DJ Die - Reminisce
A core member of Reprazent and one of my favourite producers of the era, this one is on the b-side of one of his biggest tracks, 'Clear Skyz'. Love the long ambient mid section of this track that makes the transition into a savage second drop. There are so many other tracks of his I could have picked for this list: 'Music Box' (with Roni Size), 'Reincarnated' remix, 'Mankind' (with DJ Suv) or 'Special Treat' are also personal favourites.
Optical - The End Pt 1
A very deep cut from Optical. Mad beat patterns and awesome sound design on this one. There are many other Optical tunes to recommend - his Jonny L - 'Moving Thru Air Remix' is another great one to check.
Spirit - Final Chapter (Transatlantic Turmoil Mix)
A brilliantly dark Spirit track here. Pristine production and quite a Photek-y feel to the beat. The best release on Timeless Records for me.
Peshay - Miles From Home
This was a d&b anthem in the '90s that is now a little forgotten about. I remember going to Essential festival in Finsbury Park around '97 and seeing everyone from Grooverider to Andy C drop this tune on dub-plate.
Ed Rush & Optical - Compound
An absolutely banging track and the best on their seminal LP, Wormhole. For me, there’s so many tracks from these guys that could have made this list. Other favourites of mine are 'Alien Girl,' 'Medicine' (Matrix Remix) and 'Funktion'.
Adam F - Brand New Funk
I remember this getting dropped all the time when I started going to clubs. It has an epic quality to it that wasn't in many d&b tracks before, with multiple sections in the build up. I remember sneaking into the final Metalheadz at the Blue Note and hearing this for the first time.
Dillinja - Light Years
Couldn't really do a list of '90s d&b without putting Dillinja in it. Other classics of his for me are 'Unexplored Terrain,' 'Acid Trak,' 'Threshold' and 'The Angels Fell'. I love the calm intro transitioning to a super hard drop on this one.
Bad Company - 4 Days
Formed at the tail end of the '90s these guys became known for 'The Nine' but I was always more into this track. This was around the time I started getting into producing d&b and these guys probably influenced my sound more that any other artist.
Use of Weapons - Stan’s Plan
One of the more obscure tracks on this list and a personal favourite, this was made by Mark Pritchard of Global Communication/Africa Hitech fame.
Grooverider - Charade
This track started life as a Grooverider remix and for some reason never saw the light of day. One of the great unreleased d&b classics and a fitting track to end the list on.