Never Get To Zion Without Jah Love

Bringing together several recent themes today I’m offering you some prime Underworld remixes from the mid 90s, a time when we could actually feel fairly optimistic about the world.

Underworld have been all over my stereo recently with the Drift Series 1 Sampler (posted at the weekend). In addition the 90s incarnation of Underworld (Hyde, Smith and Emerson) were at The Vinyl Villain fairy recently with their epic ten minute remix of Human Behaviour- a beat heavy, tribal techno delight, Bjork skipping into the night, called by the drums.

Dreadzone have made a career out of righteous dance- floor based sounds, dub, reggae, techno and progressive house mixed into a heady stew with some politics in there to shake it all up. In Zion Youth singer Earl 16 give the wrongdoers a simple message- heads up Tories…

‘You’ll never get to Zion without Jah love
Never reach that land you’re dreaming of
You must be good you must be careful
Live upright like you know you should…

…No evildoers will be there
No backstabbers will be there’

This remix is a ten minute long excursion- a looped keyboard part, Earl’s voice, some echoey, whooshing noises bouncing around and those trademark Underworld rhythms building up a head of steam. There’s a break down at eight minutes in and then it’s all back on the dub techno train to the fade.

Zion Youth (Underworld Mix)

I have pondered before about an Underworld remix album, a compilation of the cream of their 90s remixes, and am really surprised no one ever put one out, especially in the heyday of CDs when a double disc remix edition would have surely been a winner.

This one from 1993 would have made the cut, a thirteen minute rejigging of William Orbit’s Water From A Vine Leaf, a stomping chugger of the highest order. In among all the sonics there’s a magnificent piano riff that is worth the price of entry alone, a parping synth part, a nagging upper register synth riff that goes straight to the back of the brain, a snatch of Beth Orton’s vocal and a squiggly acid bassline that would cut straight through the dry ice- layers of sounds aimed at feet and the head.

Water From A Vine Leaf (Underwater Mix Part 1) 

Here’s the 1993 remix of Bjork, the 110 BPM version from the A-side of the 12″. On the flip was a faster one, the 125 BPM Dub, but to my mind this is the pick of the pair. The build up alone is longer (and better) than many songs. This sort of thing could pack a dance-floor tight in the early/mid 90s.

Human Behaviour (The Underworld Mix 110BPM)

This could run and run and I have posted some of these before- there are some heavy duty One Dove remixes, a pair of very techno Chemical Brothers bangers, a tasty remix of The Drum Club’s Sound System, a fifteen minute St Etienne remix, Orbital’s Lush and some outliers like Front 242 and Shakespeare’s Sister (neither of which it seems I own either digitally of physically).

Hollow Earth

Long Meg and Her Daughters is a stone circle near Penrith, a megalith constructed somewhere between five and three thousand years ago, pictured here on Sunday afternoon when we visited in the Cumbrian drizzle. Long Meg herself is twelve feet high, lying outside the circle and decorated with some Neolithic carvings. Her daughters number fifty nine stones, some upright and some toppled. Legend has it that if you count the stones twice and get the same number bad luck will befall you. So we didn’t count them.
Ghost Box Records have been releasing albums since 2004, drawing on parts of British culture familiar to people born between the 1950s and 1970s- eerie public information films (where children often died in terrible and unexpected ways such as drowning in slurry pits on farms or playing in fields near pylons), library music, weird synth soundtracks from Open University programmes broadcast in the middle of the night, British sci-fi programmes and strange folk stories. As such some of their output is right up my street. Earlier this year one of Ghost Box’s key artists, Pye Corner Audio, released an album called Hollow Earth, an album that forms a soundtrack to a descent into the earth, through caves and chambers. The synths sound like they date from Cold War East Germany (or early 60s Derbyshire). The individual tracks all work well but Hollow Earth is best taken as an album with the record forming a narrative, hints of rave and disco and house evident. It takes you down into the depths and then up again, finally drawing breath.