About this playlist

Between 1990 and 1992 rave music exploded, into the charts and across the land. This wasn’t, for the most part, the original American formula, Chicago house and Detroit techno. Indeed, it didn’t even sound especially like the soul-tinted, drum machine grooves of Frankie Knuckles, Juan Atkins, Marshall Jefferson, et al. Instead, it was the sound of Britain’s (and Europe’s) urban and suburban young, brought up on hip hop, from where they drew their speeding breakbeats, but converted to ecstasy culture.

The biggest extant name to come out of the era is The Prodigy, but most acts didn’t make it past a single major tune, their one big sonic statement. In the spirit of punk, endless now-forgotten producers banged together samples in their bedroom studios, and released 12” singles full of fiery dancefloor oomph. The likes of Reckless’s ‘Time To Make The Floor Burn’, Together’s ‘Hardcore Uproar’, Manix’s ‘Feel Real Good’ and, especially, Rhythm Section’s ‘Feel The Rhythm’ have a wild amphetamine energy, machine music rife with vim and eagerness, yet not taking itself too seriously. Our playlist is a snapshot of what it was like to go to clubs just as the M25 orbital rave era ended and all-nighters were licensed at places such as Dalston’s notorious Labyrinth, Sterns in Worthing, The Eclipse in Coventry, as well as dozens more.

While The Shamen, 808 State, LFO, Meat Beat Manifesto and a few others did achieve brief careers, most didn’t, for the rave phenomenon was more about the crowd, sweating it out ‘til dawn, about the DJs more than the makers of the music. Thus, like the 1960s US garage-psyche scene, it left behind in its wake thousands of little known gems to be rediscovered in the aftermath.

It wasn’t all Brits, of course. Americans such as Moby, Joey Beltram and Robert Owens made their names, and the European version of techno was also vitally important, via the likes of Jaydee, T99, Outlander, Frank de Wulf and multiple others as lost to pop history as their UK counterparts. Our playlist pays tribute to one of the golden DIY eras in pop, where the major labels were caught unawares and a wave of crazy amped-up tunes achieved unlikely success. Hit play and rave on.

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