When it comes to classic influential labels, Philly Blunt is a high ranker for many junglists.
Not only was it responsible for the iconic Burial by Leviticus (AKA Jumping Jack Frost) but it was also home to some of Roni Size’s most subversive rollers as Firefox, Krust’s Glamour Gold guise and cuts by luminaries such as Dillinja and Ray Keith.
One of Bryan Gee and Frost’s sprawling portfolio of agenda-setting imprints, Philly Blunt stood out from V and Chronic thank to its rolling drums and sub-led funk. Keeping tighter roots to the original jungle foundations, it achieved buy-on-sight status during its initial run between 94-97. One particular artist who subscribed to their deadly dispatches was Serum.
“I would literally save up my pocket money for releases on Philly Blunt and all of Bryan’s labels to be honest,” explains Serum who has been associated with the timeless rolling style since emerging in 2004 on Ray Keith’s Penny Black and has just levelled up by compiling and mixing Philly Blunt’s first ever album: Philly Blunt – The Album
“Bryan’s got these dubplates that only he, Roni and maybe one or two of the Full Cycle lot have. Absolute treasures! So we dug out the best and worked closely with Roni on some additional production. We chose tracks that would fit and have that old vibe and keep it raw and rolling.”
The result is a heady dot-joining session that makes sense of drum & bass’s deepest roots while staying up to date with various cuts from the label’s rebirth in the late zeros and upfront cuts from Serum who, in-keeping with his signature, keeps it rolling.
“The way I see it is you got your kicks and your snares and it’s what sits in between that keeps it rolling,” he explains. “Growing up with labels like Philly Blunt, Dope Dragon and V has left a huge impact on me. The drums have to sound like a real drummer’s playing them and the funk is between the beats. That’s the main thing for me anyway.”
And here are 10 of Serum’s most essential examples of the classic rolling style that’s played such a key role in the development of drum & bass….
Firefox – Buck Rogers (Philly Blunt) (1996)
A classic slice of Philly Blunt that’s been brought bang up to date by Bladerunner for the album. Simple but militant with a nice melodic bassline.
Capone – Massive (Hardleaders) (1995)
Dillinja on top form. I remember the first time I heard this on a tape I thought the mixer must have been broken because the bass was mashing everything up. 20 years on and it still blows the roof off everywhere I play it.
Mask – Splurt (Dope Dragon) (1997)
I love everything about this tune. It has loads of really off key noises, lazy swinging drums and an absolute stinker of a bassline that throbs in and out while still carrying a tune.
Ray Keith – Special Technique (Chronic) (1996)
Brutal is the only way to describe this. Ray combines some excellent beat layering with two basslines that are pure filth. It’s a bit of an obscure track but it’s always been one of my favourites.
DJ Die – Special Treat (V Recordings) (1997)
I love the way this one builds up for two minutes before erupting into one of the greatest basslines of all time. I really miss tunes with a structure like this.
Scorpio – Li Li (V Recordings) (1997)
When Roni Size and Die team up the results are incredible. This must have been on every tape of every pack in 97 but it’s not a textbook smasher. It’s all about the melody in the bassline, the crazy sounds and drum layering. Pure funk!
Tribe Of Issachar – His Imperial Majesty (Congo Natty) (1997)
I remember walking into a record shop when this was playing and not knowing what had hit me! It had to go straight in the bag.
Firefox & 4-Tree – Warning (Powder Mix) (Philly Blunt) (1994)
A bona fide anthem. As soon as that bassline came in the place would go mad and when the vocal drops it takes it to the next level.
Reprazent – Trust Me (Talkin Loud) (1997)
It doesn’t get much bigger than this but at the same time it must be hard for the younger crowd to understand how massive this was when you compare it to today’s very loud and clinically produced D&B. The way the tension builds in the intro from the looping samples and the use of silence before the drop will always have that magic for me.
Roni Size – It’s Jazzy (V Recordings) (1997)
Roni gives another masterclass in beats and bass. So simple yet at the same time there’s a lot going on with the beats. Subtle new layers and edits drop in and out every 16 bars and keep it sounding interesting without you really knowing what’s going on.
Philly Blunt – The Album is out now:
Digital, Vinyl, CD: http://bit.ly/Philly_Blunt-Album