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The moment Simon Colebrooke heard Sean O'Keefe play The Mixmaster's 1989 hip hop fused piano house lick Grand Piano at Stags in Hertford, one of the UK rave scene's most important seeds was sown. Recalling that very encounter as the moment 2 Bad Mice formed, the pair were probably unaware of the impact they were about to create. At the time, Simon was a meticulous rap hip hop head, and the sound of Grand Piano was intriguing to him. Moving beyond this initial chat, they met Moving Shadow head Rob Playford, who they met and eventually persuaded to let them into the studio.
Fuelled by takeaway pizzas and spliffs, the group named themselves after Beatrix Potter story The Tale Of Two Bad Mice, after finding an audio tape at Simon's mums house. They laid down two tracks, and the rest they say, is history. They were soon the top choice of the “hands in the air posse”, and remained so during the halcyon days of hardcore, even placing the in top 50 UK Singles Chart. They're now credited amongst some of the first handful of UK hardcore acts incorporating breakbeat sounds into their output, and were a staple on the early to mid '90s hardcore and rave scene, before being an instrumental trigger in the genre's steady mutation into jungle and drum and bass.
Taking a brief hiatus in the '90s, The 2 Bad Mice resurfaced in the early '10s and picked up where they left off – servicing a new generation of ravers with the original foundations of the sound, which has seen many different reinterpretations and replications over the years, but never quite served up anything quite like the original thing.
Ahead of their set at Gottwood in North Wales this weekend, we got 2 Bad Mice on board for an extra-special round-up of the 10 best rave tracks. Collating just 10 tracks was an agonising task for the pair, but they chose five tracks each that best reflect those heady few years, and the end product is nothing short of energetic. As somebody who was probably kicking a football around a dismal field in North West England during rave's hey-day, it's hard to say, but it's tracks like these that might me think I was born a little too late.
In Simon's own words:
"I've changed my mind loads over this. It's difficult to pick my half of the top 10, as so many tunes from that era were amazing. Plus, I don't want to offend anyone by not choosing their tracks!! Therefore, I have chosen tracks that were produced by people that were at it constantly throughout that great time – but I would like to make special mentions to the likes of Foul Play, Hyper on Experience, Nookie, Tango, Cosmo and Dibs, and Mixrace – all who were involved in building this great scene. Props to Suburban Base, Reinforced, Formation, and all of the labels too…."
Listen to Simon and Sean's selections below, or listen seamlessly via our YouTube playlist.
Simon: "Firstly the impact that this track has the second that those stabs come in – makes you lose your shit. It was HUGE. Secondly, Olivier Abbeloos was responsible for so many massive tunes from that time – Trigger, Quadrophonia, etc. We were lucky enough to spend time with him in Los Angeles and he is a top guy with so many great stories."
Shut Up And Dance The Green Man
Simon: "I am confident in saying that Smiley and PJ were one of the main influences on 2 Bad Mice back in the day. Alongside other UK based producers and labels like Blapps Posse, Break the Limits, D-Zone and Mutant Records. Their sounds were part of the DNA in our music. We used to listen to them constantly."
Altern 8 Infiltrate 202
Simon: "Take a minute to check out Mark Archers involvement in the rave scene – not just in the UK, but across the globe. His CV is quite astonishing, and this is one of my favourites. Mark along with the likes of Billy Daniel Bunter, Slipmatt, Liquid, and Ratpack still have that zest for rave after all of these years. It was always meant to be fun and slightly anarchic. Altern 8 nailed it."
Omni Trio Feel Good
Simon: "Rob Haigh played such a big part in the 2 Bad Mice story. We would spend hours listening to his stories of the days of punk and early electronica. I do not need to give any reason why he is included in ANY list. The bloke is a bloody genius. I still send him music for his opinion – just like all those years ago, but I miss those chats over the counter of Parliament Music terribly [sad smile] ."
The Prodigy Your Love
Simon: "I do not care what anyone says about Liam – then, now, or what he is doing in the future. He took rave to the masses with tunes that still knock a dance floor bandy. The famous 'Did Charly Kill Rave' article is in my opinion – utter crap."
Sean: "Heavy duty Belgian techno that still goes off every time I play it. R&S were unstoppable in this period and there were so many releases that really helped to shape the UK rave scene."
Lenny De Ice We Are I.E.
Sean: "A stone cold classic, and anybody that ever heard this dropping down at RAGE would never forget it. Cited by many as the first ever jungle tune, and it’s pretty hard to argue with that."
The Sorcerer Odyssey
Sean: "I was blown away the first time I head this…those eerie opening chords on a big system are spine tingling, then when the breakdown comes it’s pure uplifting rave. Add some trippy FX on the drums and a rolling bass then you’ve got a classic."
A Guy Called Gerald 28 Gun Bad Boy
Sean: "Voodoo Ray and Emotions Electric are two of my all time favourite records, so when I picked up this white label up from Music Power I remember thinking, "is this the same dude?" This was HEAVY! The breaks, snares, bass, and other sounds are all devastating and the arrangement really doesn’t mess around. A turning point."
Foul Play Finest Illusion (illegal mix)
Sean: "The original mix with the SOS Band sample starts awesome and just gets better and better. Everything from the drum edits to the sounds in the intro to when the bass drops are just perfectly judged. I don’t normally do rewinds but if you shout for one on this tune, you’ll probably get one!"
2 Bad Mice play Gottwood on June 9th-12th in Anglesey, North Wales (info).