UK garage in 2020 is certainly a strange old topic. On one hand, certain DJs are still rinsing the likes of Sweet Female Attitude's 'Flowers' and MCs are solely relying on the horrendous "oly, oly, oly" chant that in realty, nobody liked the first time around. The other side of UK garage however, is certainly far more positive. A fine example of this would be Mind of a Dragon's recent dubplate extravaganza which saw him give away a free tune every Monday. These were not tracks of the past either but fresh beats and bootlegs previously unavailable to other DJs, let alone the general public. Aside from Mind of a Dragon, dig a bit into UK garage and the underground side of the scene is still somewhat alive. Vinyl is still a thing, fully represented by some great sole traders.
Wheel it up to 2001 when Garage Fever decided to release a 3 disc DJ mix compilation. This was at a time where the likes of Ministry of Sound were getting their commercial claws into UKG, causing somewhat of a split down the middle. The top 40 element of garage went one way and the die hard underground supporters went another.
This is probably why a lot of tunes were left by the wayside in respect of compilations. You had to either know a true UK garage DJ or attend events such as Sidewinder, Garage Fever or Garage Nation to keep up with proper releases.
Discs 1 and 2 (mixed by DJ Swiss and Mike 'Ruffcut' Lloyd respectively) showcases the full spectrum of the early 2000's. Sure you get the obvious tunes of the moment such as Lonyo's 'Garage Girls' and the awful follow up to 'Body Groove' by The Architects simply titled 'Show Me The Money' but dig a little deeper into the track listing and the likes of Shut Up and Dance, DJ Quest and Mr Reds appear. These 2 mixes are both lacking MCs so it's really all about the selection here. Remember that in 2001 auto beat sync wasn't a thing...
Mike 'Ruffcut' Lloyd
Hold tight the needles, jumpy jumpy. Technician to the stage.
Disc 3 of the Garage Fever compilation represents the UK garage you may well have missed from the early 2000's. Surprising to some, this was actually mixed by Pied Piper. A name now fully associated by the one hit wonder tune 'Do You Really Like It'. The mix is full of (at the time) dubplates and features MCs CKP, PSG, Viper, Danger K, Sparks (RIP) and Kie. Obviously recorded live unlike some other 'live' recordings of the era.
Could things have been different for UK garage if the underground scene of the early 2000's carried on tradition? Would we be where we are now in the urban music scene without the input of commercial garage?
One thing is for sure - could everyone please stop saying "UK garage is making a comeback".
Shout to Teebone, KD, Undecided, Mind of a Dragon and RIP to the one like Sparks.
Disc 3 track listing
Git Dat - License To Kill (007 Remix)
Livewire - Devistate
Oris Jay - Biggin Up The Massive
White - El-Breaks 2
White - Whoa
White - (Unknown)
JJ Louis - Ruff Tuff N Ready
One Upfront - Hold Tight
Trick Or Treat - Candyman
Headtop - The Matrix
Pay As You Go Crew - Know We (Original)
White - (Unknown)
Jazzy D - Lyrikal Respect
Osmosis - Scottie
DB Max - Freakin (Dub Mix)
Blond - If I Was Your Girl
Zoom & D.B.X. - Comin' Again
Urban Legends - Touch Me
Hutchy B - Finest Y2K
Da Click - Good Rhymes (Sovereign Mix)
Kriminal Gang$ta - I Need (Dub)