Every genre of dance music has its landmark tracks. Drum & Bass is no different. Generally speaking anything released at the tail end of the nineties or start of the millennium is considered golden by most peoples standards: Wormhole era Ed Rush & Optical for example. Or any number of Dillinja tunes. Basically anything Dillinja did before whatever happened to him happened which resulted in tunes like Shiners and On The Wheels instead of tunes like Hard Noize or All Aboard.
One such example is Bad Company’s The Nine, which is getting a digitally re-mastered re-release probably around the time you read this. Regarded as the greatest D&B track of all time in one poll and usually sat atop of many other pointless ‘best tune’ lists its place is cemented as a seminal cut of D&B. That infamous ‘turnaround’ sequence (you know the bit I mean) still causes ructions, wall punching and all out nostalgia whenever it’s teased for 32 bars in raves up and down the country. My copy certainly takes pride of place in my record collection and it’s great there’s now a decent digital copy available to buy. Though it probably means every DJ worth his Serato or Traktor box will be chucking it their mixes again for the next fortnight.
By mere accident, prior to the reissue being announced, a bootleg version of it cropped up online by an artist called Jaydrop. Now there are a few unofficial remixes and re-edits of The Nine on You Tube. Most of them are fucking shocking. There’s even a dubstep version by former D&B crew Evol Intent somewhere too. A Soundcloud link for the bootleg seems to have disappeared but it’s in a Loxy set from Fabric recorded on Boxing Day last year if you want to hear it. You’ll find it on the Internet if you look hard enough. (Editor: we’ve found it for you below)
So what’s my beef? Well it’s not so much with the bootlegger or even the bootleg itself. Personally I don’t think it’s that great. Half timing the beats and using sparse elements of what make the original so distinct could be done well in the right hands. Just maybe not in Jaydrop’s hands, if anyone’s at all. But that’s the danger when undertaking the task, officially or otherwise, of updating such a revered, timeless piece of music. The Nine is synonymous because of those brooding atmospherics, that rugged kick/snare pattern. Its familiarity of sound is what’s almost so comforting about hearing it, whether you’re in your bedroom or room one at Fabric. It doesn’t just stop at The Nine either. There was a Pedestrian edit of dBridge’s True Romance (it seems Bad Company tunes are the most prime for messing with), turning the rolling beauty of the original into some weird shuffling house groove. Again it’s ok, but it doesn’t hold a torch to the majesty of its predecessor.
Similarly this point could be made about D&B bootlegs of house tunes. Yes TC’s Au Seve bootleg I’m looking at you. But I don’t write about house or care so I won’t bother.
Essentially what I’m saying is; not EVERY single classic drum & bass tune needs a remix, edit or tempo revamp. They’re classics for the way they were written in the first place. Sure, maybe not all records need to be sacred. But not everything needs to be brought up to date or altered either. You wouldn’t paint over the Mona Lisa because you thought she looked a bit miserable would you? Why not introduce the original tunes to your audience by just playing them as they are? I understand if you were a house DJ to suddenly drop True Romance on your crowd would be a tad alarming. But the job of a DJ is to also educate musically is it not? I went to a Dubstep night last year and one of the DJ’s played the original version of The Nine amongst all his 140bpm tunes. How fucking wicked is that!? I’m not condemning all remixes of classics out of hand. But to me, there are some tunes that really deserve to be left to their own greatness. I could list some of them though truth is I’d be here all day and I’m hungry. And if anyone out there is thinking of remixing or bootlegging Titan by Ram Trilogy I will be more than willing to dish out a throat punch or three for their trouble. I kid of course but seriously… leave it.
In the meantime either reacquaint or familiarise yourself with Bad Company’s classic by purchasing the digitally remastered reissue, out now on Bad Taste Recordings featuring The Nine, The Bridge & Dogfight.
Words: Wayne Mackenzie