A pair of YouTube and Spotify playlists showcasing some of the many diverse styles of music and acts on Rhythm King Records in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
If you were buying Top 40 singles in the UK in the late 80s and early 90s chances are you bought a record on Rhythm King Records or one of its offshoot labels, whether it was by S’Express, Bomb The Bass, Betty Boo, Moby or one of the many dance acts who released a couple of singles in the burgeoning rave scene and then disappeared just as quickly.
In the beginning, the London-based label formed by Martin Heath, Adele Nozedar, DJ Jay Strongman and James Horrocks focussed on the exploding dance and rave scene. Their label showcased many of the most innovative acts of the time, ones who were instrumental in taking underground styles into the mainstream: Bomb The Bass, who introduced sampling culture to the masses; The Beatmasters, who practically invented pop-dance and (claimed to invent!) hip-house; S’Express, who combined sampling and acid house and took that to #1 with “The Theme from S’Express”; and even Moby’s “Go” was released in the UK via Rhythm King.
Through their sub-labels they were able to branch out into different musical styles, releasing records by Leftfield, soul superstar Gwen McCrae and funk legends Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers. In the label’s later years, as illegal raves started to decline in popularity, the label climbed onto the indie guitar bandwagon, signing acts like Echobelly and Sultans of Ping FC.
As I like to do with these playlists, I’ve tried to serve you a mix of bona fide classics, ranging from Aphex Twin’s “Digeridoo” to “All This Love That I’m Giving” by Gwen McCrae. But I always like to dig out those songs that were perhaps not quite as popular, the ones that the real trainspotters knew and loved, such as “Mantra for a State of Mind” (recently covered by Primal Scream for Record Shop Day, and jolly good it is too) by S’Express and “Biting My Nails” by Renegade Soundwave. And just because I’m that kinda guy (also because many of the songs I wanted aren’t even bloody on Spotify), there’s an extra YouTube playlist of bonus tracks. Amazing.
- “We Need Some Money” – Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers (1984)
- “I Love My Radio” – Taffy (1986)
- “Oochy Koochy (F.U. BABY YEH YEH) (Club Mix)” – Baby Ford (Ford Trax, 1988)
- “All This Love That I’m Giving” – Gwen McCrae (1988)
- “Mantra for a State of Mind” – S’Express (Intercourse, 1989)
- “Time to Feel the Rhythm” – How II House (1989)
- “Biting My Nails” – Renegade Soundwave (Soundclash, 1990)
- “Hey DJ/I Can’t Dance (to that Music You’re Playing)” – The Beatmasters and Betty Boo (Boomania, 1990)
- “Go (Woodtick Mix)” – Moby (Moby, 1990)
- “Tricky Disco” – Tricky Disco (1990)
- “LFO” – LFO (Frequencies, 1990)
- “Winter in July” – Bomb The Bass (Unknown Territories, 1991)
- “More Than I Know” – Leftfield (Backlog, 1991)
- “Dominator” – Human Resource (1991)
- “Aftermath” – Nightmares on Wax (A Word of Science: The First and Final Chapter, 1991)
- “Track With No Name” – Forgemasters (The Black Steel EP, 1991)
- “40 Miles (Club Mix)” – Congress (1991)
- “Remember” – John Foxx and Nation 12 (Electrofear, 1991)
- “U R The Best Thing” – D:Ream (D:Ream On, 1992)
- “Digeridoo” – Aphex Twin (Digeridoo EP, 1992)
- “Where’s Me Jumper” – Sultans of Ping FC (Casual Sex in the Cineplex, 1993)
- “Dark Therapy” – Echobelly (On, 1996)
YouTube playlist – tracklisting
Here’s your bonus YouTube beats! Some of these tracks are on Spotify, but most aren’t. Some of the fashion stylings seen in these videos are still vaguely acceptable, but most aren’t! Features further tracks by the likes of Cookie Crew, Bomb The Bass and Betty Boo.