Despite coming from across the pond, Todd Edwards’ music has been recognised as one of the most significant influences on the formation and solidification of UK garage.
Originally immersing himself in the flourishing house genre in the early 90s, Edwards quickly carved out a reputation for his unique vocal sampling and textured basslines that perfectly moulded around the 4/4 beat. With his first release coming in 1993, Edwards’ appreciation of house music pioneers such as Todd Terry and MK was evident. However, it wasn’t long before he began his association with the iconic I! Records, a house label who were an early source of speed garage music.
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Edwards’ approach to vocals where he chopped up the samples into unrecognisable sections that replaced the uses of certain musical instruments was an early characteristic of speed garage that began to envelop the UK’s rave landscape. The sound quickly drew traction as the freshest sound to take over the underground since jungle, first finding its feet on pirate radio stations before beginning to take hold of the mainstream as it progressed to a 2-step beat.
His early work drew Edwards acclaim as a forefather of the UKG scene, with fans fondly referring to the New Jersey-born artist as ‘Todd the God’. Although he didn’t start DJing until the turn of the millennium, this legendary status saw Edwards rapidly pick up bookings across Europe. His first show in the UK saw him play in Romford for a seminal performance in 2003 which saw him appear on stage in a t-shirt branded with ‘Jesus Loves UK Garage.’
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One of the most prolific remixers that dance music has ever seen, Edwards has reworked tracks from the likes of Beyoncé and St Germain to Disclosure and Justice. The new millennium also saw Edwards start recording his own vocals, both for his own projects such as the album ‘Odyssey’ and for others, most notably on Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery.’
Earlier this month it was announced that Edwards’ sublime back catalogue had been remastered by house label Defected Records. Over 140 of his tracks will be available digitally for the first time, including ‘Saved my Life,’ one of his earliest and most well-recognised creations.
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Todd has selected ten of his all time favourites tracks from those early golden years when house and speed garage overlapped. The list features tunes from fellow pioneers from both sides of the pond such as Armand Van Helden, Roy Davis Jr. and Sole Fusion, as well as a classic plate from ‘the God’ himself. Check them out below.
1 TJR feat Xavier 'Just Gets Better'
2 Sneaker Pimps 'Spin Spin Sugar' (Armand’s Dark Garage Mix)
3 MD X-Spress 'God Made Me Funky'
4 Jodeci 'Freak You' (MK Dub)
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5 Roy Davis Jr feat Peven Everett 'Gabriel'
6 Soul Fusion 'Bass Tone' (Underground Network Mix)
7 George Morel 'Let’s Groove'
8 New Horizons 'Find The Path'
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9 X Presidents 'Diamond Rings'
10 Sounds Of One 'As I Am' ( Todd Edwards Mix)
Paddy Edrich is a freelance writer, follow him on Twitter