Ladies and gentlemen, we’re currently cruising at around 9 words per minute and if you look over to over to the left side you should just be able to make out the lights of my reviewing comfort zone receding into the distance. I know I’ve mentioned this before* but I can judge a rock group/band/beat combo easily, I instantly know what I like and I have a critical framework to evaluate them, I’m a bit all-at-sea over dance-type stuff. But, I swore a solemn vow before you all to get to 1537 and like the man said, ‘I consider it a challenge before the human race / And I ain’t gonna lose’, so excuse me if I go on and on and on.
Now remember Acid House? I am a little unsure if even typing that sentence ages me beyond all recovery, but anyway, living in rural Wales, like most trends/fashions/sea changes in popular culture it completely passed me by, if it wasn’t metal I didn’t want to know. Anyway, music without guitars? dancing in fields? drugs? all a load of faddish nonsense, where was the fun in all that? I was put off by those ubiquitous smiley faces and godawful baggy jeans. Okay so that all changed a bit (as did dance culture) when I went to university/big city and had access to decent night clubs, but I never bought an awful lot of the music.
Bomb The Bass, an enterprising young chap called Tim Simenon, didn’t really crop up on my radar until I was sent a 10″ promo copy of Bug Powder Dust to review in September ’94, a remix 10″ by DJ Muggs no less. So I spun it and, wow! within seconds I owned a record which referenced William Burroughs, Jane’s Addiction, Black Sabbath, Allen Ginsberg, The Doors, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Led Zeppelin and, umm, Men at Work – and that was just what I got from a first listen; my favourite author, my favourite two bands, my 3rd favourite poet and, umm, Men at Work. The music was brilliant too, a mix of dance and hip-hop, Justin Warfield’s delivery was perfect. In those pre-internet days I spent a whole afternoon, listening to it and writing down the lyrics as best I could. This was an unalloyed work of total genius. I obsessed over this track, playing it over and over. I changed my password at work to ‘mugwumpjism’**. This track also gets massive 1537 bonus points for rhyming ‘Vibrator’ with ‘Vibe later’, the genius of which leaves me speechless every time I hear it.
I rushed out and bought Bomb The Bass’ next two 12″s as soon as they came out, Darkheart and 1 to 1 Religion, with very mixed results. The first is a wonderful slice of futuristic reggae with great vocals by Spikey Tee, a fabulous positive message and a snarling dog on the cover, if you like reggae and/or the Orb’s steps in that direction you will like this a lot, I genuinely think this is another brilliant record. Tim Simenon is just a great producer. Now the second, 1 to 1 Religion is, I’m afraid a turgid, falsetto abomination***, which pretty much ended my interest in Bomb the Bass for years, being the flighty (and financially limited) soul I was.
All these singles came with numerous remixes by various luminaries who’s names didn’t quite stick to the fickle flypaper of fame. I’ve got strong feelings about remixes on singles because with very few exceptions they tend to take everything I enjoy about a track, discard it and then desecrate the remains, or tweak the bass sound just noticeably enough to be irritating, but not noticeably enough to add anything groovy. You never caught Saxon messing about like that.
Anyhoo, another promo landed at my feet in August ’95, Bug Powder Dust / Absorber containing lots of remixes of the former and an interesting new electro-ish track, remixed by Jedi Knights. Proving myself an instant hypocrite I immediately loved the laid back mix of BPD by Kruder and Dorfmeister – it would have made transcribing the lyrics so much easier the year before! the remix of BPD by The Chemical Brothers on the other hand, sounded like a particularly well sound-tracked firefight, heavier than a lot of the metal bands I was listening to at the time; headache music in a good way.
Then on an impulse on my birthday in ’97 I picked up Beat ‘Dis in a charity shop in Bristol. Already 10 years old by then this is the track that started it all for Bomb the Bass and it is just a terrific adrenaldin rush, fast insistent dance beats, samples from Thunderbirds, Public Enemy and Gangbusters (amongst others). It’s brilliant, again and makes me dance my special wavey-hands dance really, really fast (which is a good thing). You know, those dancey, acid-housey folks from the big city may have had a point all those years ago.
5 records, 4 of them excellent – not a bad return for any artist. Try them. As the man said,
Shockin’ your ass like a faulty vibrator
Hear me now, but you’ll probably get the vibe later
* here in fact: https://jatstorey.com/2012/12/05/assassment/
**which culminated in a horrifically embarrassing incident when I spelt it wrong and had to tell the nice lady on the IT helpdesk what my password was. That which does not kill us only makes us stronger.
***Should I suddenly start a hardcore band I will call them Turgid Falsetto Abomination – TFA. You heard it here first.