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The 12 best mid-90s jungle tracks

Strictly '94 to '96

  • Dave Turner
  • 20 October 2017

Tunes lists. Nobody ever agrees with each other, right? Everyone has their own favourites and ones they regard as the best. And these are the ones we regard as the best jungle releases made in the period from 1994 to '96. Yep, we've whittled it down to a three-year period because if it was any longer, you'd be reading this forever. And because this chosen three years saw the birth of some absolute anthems, of course.

There's no need to give you a history of jungle as all (well, almost) you need to know is contained within the tunes below. We realise we've left out Goldie's classic 'Inner City Life', but we're all well aware of the importance and impact that tune had.

Tuck in below for some gems by artists including Source Direct, Photek and Doc Scott and releases by labels such as Good Looking Records, Metalheadz and Moving Shadow.

Source Direct
'Secret Liaison'

A minute-and-a-half of subtle jangles are Source Direct's playing hard to get tool on this one, keeping you waiting before the drums come crashing in. It's not long until a wash of pleasant piano chords come into play, setting the shape for a plush jungle classic and one which, at the time, was branded the sound of the future. Seriously, listen to those piano chords. Heaven.

Aquarius
'Dolphin Tune'

It doesn't take a genius to work out what this tune's focus is on, does it? Even so, it doesn't take someone with a ridiculously high IQ to work out this is an absolute gem, either. Much like dolphins streamline through the open waters, Photek's Aquarius alias takes us on a pleasurable glide through shimmering pads and delicate dolphin clicks.

Nookie
'Only You'

Seduction was fully on Nookie's mind here, instantly drawing us in with a sensual "Ohhh, baby, baby" vocal. We're more or less sucked in with no means of escape once the whispered vocal claims "only you can give me what I want," followed by pangs of euphoric, eyes-to-the-sky piano keys. All with a rumbling underbelly of bass for maximum dancefloor impact. Reinforced Records certainly knew how to spot an anthem.

Peshay
'Psychosis'

One word: Metalheadz. The label's been at the forefront of jungle and drum 'n' bass since its inception in '93 and is still putting out some of genre's best records today. Peshay helped set the tone early on, teasing a clattering drum roll out for over two minutes with anxiety-inducing shrills and the most gentle of percussive taps. It just about tops his Good Looking Records classic 'Piano Tune' for us.

Nasty Habits
'Shadow Boxing'

The frantic fighting sound effects instantly make it clear that this one's going to pack a knockout blow, furthered by Doc Scott's use of terrifying drum smacks. A searing, murderous riff conjures up images of creeping through shady alleyways, making this one a certified jungle thriller.

Omni Trio
'Thru The Vibe (2 On 1 remix)

Straight-up elation with this one. Omni Trio, the misleading alias of Robert Haigh, thrived on squeaky vocals in his earlier work and this one guarantees spine tingles each and every time. It takes an eerie turn with whistles halfway through, but it's soon back into its joyous party vibe.

DJ Crystl
'Paradise'

Not the easiest of picks bearing in mind the rich mix of tunes DJ Crystl released during the timescale we're covering in this list. But it's the melodic, tip-toeing bleeps, hopping bass and repeated cries of "oh, oh, oh" that do it for us. And those sweeping pads, obviously. It really does sound like paradise.

Doc Scott
'Rage'

Grimy, moody and downright vexed, 'Rage' is another belter from the school of Doc Scott. The shuffling percussion and demonic synths fall in line with the track title, but a scattering of warped, bending pads cool the mood sparingly. The rest of the 'Last Action Hero' EP ain't too bad, either.

DJ Pulse & Alex Reece
'Kudos

A far cry from the jazz-inflected material Alex Reece would later release on debut album 'So Far', this collaboration between himself and DJ Pulse is an aggy, industrial-sounding concoction. Think about the sounds you'd hear walking through a metal stamping factory, only sped up with barely any respite. It was one half of Issue 6 of Moving Shadow's Two On One series, so check out the rest for more heaters.

Lemon D
'Don't Make Me Wait'

Pure carnage from Lemon D on Conqueror Records in '95. It's constantly twisting and turning, cymbals smashing one side, booming bass bouncing the other. Hyperactive throughout, it's a guaranteed mover on the dancefloor with cyber-like synth coils and a gone-in-a-flash sample of Peech Boys' 'Don't Make Me Wait'. Like we said, carnage, but the type of no-holds-barred action we revel in.

Dillinja
'The Angels Fell'

The bassline on 'The Angels Fell' is like a predator on the prowl - creeping, bearing its teeth and ready to wrestle you into submission. Once you're in, there's no getting away as Dillinja - who, by the way, was in the form of his life in this period, peppers you with a heavy-handed jungle assault.

Photek
'The Rain'

Part of the record - the 'Natural Born Killa' EP - that swung open doors for Photek, 'The Rain' is over six minutes of skittering jungle bliss. "What's the rain got to with anything?" some might ask, but the sporadic sparkling bleeps are totally symbolic of raindrops sliding down a neon-lit window.

Dave Turner is Mixmag's Digital News Editor, follow him on Twitter

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