I got a bit sad writing this because it forced me to remember just how exciting, creative and influential Bad Company were during those few short years they dominated the scene at the beginning of the decade, and what a shame it is that that time is over. I know, all good things have to come to an end blah blah blah, but so we don’t forget just how good it was, BC Recordings are re-releasing a compilation of Bad Company UK Classics next week. To mark the occasion Knowledge have compiled our own list of essential Bad Company tunes to educate those who weren’t around the first time, and to reminisce with those who were. Dust off your vinyl as we celebrate some of drum and bass’s true innovators…
1. The Nine – BC Recordings (Maldini / Fresh)
This seminal record has been played for over ten years now and never, never, never gets old. It’s the ‘every tune off Thriller’ of drum & bass. Like Billie Jean, it’s instantly recognisable and it goes with everything, whether you just want to tease it over the top of another tune, or double drop it with something else like Titan (sounds amazing). As with Thriller, everyone should own a copy.
2. The Pulse – Prototype (Maldini / Fresh)
This tune is H-E-A-V-Y. Listening to it now through the filter of all the other tunes it has inspired over the intervening years, it’s easy to forget that when The Pulse was first released there was nothing else like it around at the time. For breaking new ground and breadth of influence it’s thoroughly deserving of a place on this list.
3. 4 Days – BC Recordings (Maldini, Fresh)
We’ll allow the fact that it sounds a little bit like Titan; 4 Days is an absolutely disgusting tune in its own right. It’s a classic – deep, dark and nasty in Bad Company’s signature style of the time. And those hi-hats! The Moving Fusion remix is a bit handy too. See also: Thin Air, which I don’t have room for on this list but gets an honorary mention for being similarly sick.
4. Planet Dust – Prototype (Fresh)
You have to understand how much of a big deal this tune was when it came out. )EIB( were riding on the crest of their post-The Nine wave of fame and everyone was like ‘Yeah but can they keep it up? What are they going to do next? Will it be as good?’. When the now-infamous distorted, gnarly hoover riff and distinctive bass line of Planet Dust first dropped on the dance floor with all its awesome low-budget sci-fi sounds, everyone was like ‘That’s a big YES, then’.
Big, bassy and lazy, the Tramen / Reece workout still sounds original despite having been copied to death since. In fact, it was this track which brought the Tramen break into the spotlight, it having previously been used relatively under the radar by Dom & Roland. The tune’s bastard offspring, Son of Nitrous, never quite stepped out of its father’s shadow, making Nitrous literally the daddy of drum & bass tunes.
6. Ladies of Spain – BC Recordings (Fresh / Maldini)
Perhaps it’s Jim Morrison reciting American Prayer from The Doors film in the intro, or the deliciously dense drums contrasted with the sparseness of the eerie guitar, but this track is, even now, one of the most unusual drum and bass tunes around. It divided opinion – while most loved it, some hated it just as passionately, but as a little bit of drum & bass history it’s a great example of just how genre-defining Bad Company were at the height of their success. Caliente!
7. Seizure – Virus (Maldini / Fresh)
It sounds like they took the best parts of The Nine and 4 Days and put them all in this one track. Totally their prerogative of course, but it wouldn’t be fair to say Seizure was as innovative or creative as, say, The Pulse or Planet Dust. Nevertheless, it makes the list because it is an undeniably massive tune.
“Miami. I’m in Miami right now, I love Miami, Miami is so much fun. In Miami they have palm trees and Pina Coladas”, says the very amenable-sounding young girl with the limited vocabulary at the beginning of this track. Over a riff sampled from SL2’s DJs Take Control, Fresh is chuckling away like Beavis & Butthead in the background; you can hear him say “This is fucking excellent” – and it is.
9. The Hornet – BC Recordings (Fresh / Vegas)
The synth on this is evil like the devil, like the way Mike Myers says it in So I Married An Axe Murderer (underrated film IMO). It’s got the kind of relentless tech madness that feel s a bit stabby, and was one of the most exciting tunes on Shot Down On Safari.
10. Aisle 13 – Exit Records (Digital Nation)
This is cheating a slightly because it’s not strictly a Bad Company tune but one of the very few Digital Nation tracks to have survived the group’s split. The Digital Nation moniker was supposed to have badged )EIB(‘s live act, but unfortunately the project never got off the ground, leaving a load of tracks unreleased. Aisle 13 became a cult classic. However, by the time it was finally released its vocoded vocals and trance-y feel sounded a bit dated and the response was tepid. But what’s so fascinating about Aisle 13 and the ambition for the Digital Nation project is that it demonstrates just how prescient Bad Company were in identifying the potential for live drum & bass acts and stadium rock-sounding male vocal drum & bass tunes. Aisle 13 was written in 2000 – does it remind you of anyone now?