Ultra-Rare (and dope) records in UK Garage History
Words by Lexis & Dr.Love:
The goal here isn’t necessarily to showcase the only the rarest records, it’s also to talk about slightly overlooked ones as well. Of course an original copy of “Stone Cold” by Groove Chronicles, “Cape Fear” by KMA or tons of El-B (aka Ghost), Anthill Mob, 24 Hour Experience records will put a serious dent in your bank account. But those are already widely known as the classics.
We could do a list of 50 titles like this but why don’t we start with these. Rare (or heavily slept-on) UK Garage Records.
Underground Solution – I Need You Baby / Paradise ’97 (Quench) 1997
Available on QUENCH Records, this is one hard-to-find record from UKG producers extraordinaire UNDERGROUND SOLUTION. The entire EP is crazy hot, it has a lot in common with the deep house coming out of the UK these days because the tempo is not that fast, it’s very deep, but it still has that distinct UK flavour.
R.I.P. Productions – The Power (Special Grooves EP) 1995
Here is one seriously RARE record that went totally under the radar… even for me !
In 1995 UKG was barely born and producers were merely trying to imitate the US Garage sound. Looking back at their Ice Cream Records catalogue it’s obvious to see that RIP Productions were way ahead of the game back then, and this particular track shows us why.
Kerri Chandler – Hallelujah (James Lavonz remix) (UVM) 1998
Absolutely IMPOSSIBLE-TO-FIND record. This UK release on the mighty Unda-Vybe Music includes a Tuff Jam remix, but the James Lavonz mix is the one to look out for. This has only been sold once on Discogs and hasn’t resurfaced since 2011. The bad-ass Lavonz remix features those tough slapping beats skipping around which we learned to love from him.
Kalani Bob & Remegel – Deep Breath (Cheese & Pickle EP) (Grooveyard) 1995
Why hasn’t this been reissued yet ? In many ways very similar to the Jeremy Sylvester productions coming out on the various Nice’N’Ripe labels… This one is a much stronger production / composition in comparison to the insane quantity of generic tracks coming out at the time. But the real question is Who the hell are these mysterious Kalani Bob & Remegel ??
Menta – The Soul (White Label) 2001
Definitely more know for their 2step meets Dark Breaks classic “Sounds of the Future”, this mysterious white label by Menta with only a bad font spelling out “The Soul” is an absolute timeless joint that has aged so well. I love playing this one in UKG sets but it also feels right at home with any current UK Techno track. This one definitely isn’t cheap but isn’t that well known. So if you end up paying 60-70$ for it, it’s definitely good value!
El-Brand (White) 2000
Anything with the name El-B or Ghost is pretty much buy on sight (and usually fetches a high price tag!). The man who is often labeled as the godfather of Dubstep was absolutely killing the game in the late 90’s – early 2000’s: he was remixing major artists like Pink, Monie Love but also doing cutting edge underground stuff under the Ghost moniker. This Brandy bootleg has been reissued but the original 12″ is one of 2step’s holy grails! I was lucky to get a copy when it came out and when El-B came to my house a few years ago he was even surprised to see it (and recognized his hand writing on the label)
The Messenger – Guide My Soul EP (Nervous) 1993
This one is more slept-on than rare. But don’t be fooled by the low price tag, this is an absolutely essential record in the history of UKG. In part because behind the artist known as The Messenger is none other than Todd Edwards. This record is one of the key links between the US and UK Garage scenes (it came out in 1993 on an American label). Aside from the back story, it’s just really dope and already has that TODD signature sound.
Strickly Dubz – Realise (White) 1999
One of about 30 different pseudonyms under which Jeremy Sylverster released UKG gold. The man is the most overlooked in the 20 year history of the genre and this is one of his finest moments. His “Slippin EP” under the SLY pseudonym is more expensive than this one but in my opinion not half as good. The drum programming and the sample manipulation (Mary J Blige’s “Real Love”) absolutely eats up 99,9% of the stuff coming out these days. Every time I play this out I am amazed at how forward thinking it is, even after over 15 years.