The Top 10 Rave Tunes of All Time

10. Mark One | Hoovers and Spraycans [1992]
Choci produced such a weird sound, such a chunking beat and instrumentation that sounded like an afternoon at Screwfix. We revelled in the homemade sounding track that put two fingers up at so called traditionalists who felt every artist should have a guitar in their hands.

9. Urban Shakedown (featuring Micky Finn) — Some Justice [1991]
Both Some Justice and the excellent Sweet Harmony by Liquid utilised Ce Ce Rogers track Someday. Is it the most dramatic, and recognisable intro to any rave tune? Probably. And when those bass bins rumbled, the floor filled. A nice little Concrete Jungle remix followed about a year later.

8. Acen — Close your eyes (Optikonfusion) [1992]
An ECG gets faster and faster. Overdose. Drop the bass!
That’s the review. I can honestly say I remember the night I first heard Close Your Eyes and Jim Morrison’s speeded up voice telling us, ‘Just close your eyes’ just before a voice states overdose. Then the whirling synths and beats kick in, and the dingy, low-ceilinged clubs became somehow more druggy and energetic. Gone were they smiley faces and novelty factor, by ’92 we were seriously into this and Acen remains one of the most underrated acts to come out of the hardcore scene. And then Trip II to the Moon? Well. Wow. See later…

7. Bug Kann and the Plastic Jam — Made in Two Minutes (Instrumental Club Mix) [1991]
This atmospheric and elegant club classic, that surely wouldn’t be out of place now, was not a forerunner of what was to come that year. All pianos and hip hop beats, and forged in rave’s roots of house and techno, it was still a time where the scene’s initial musical diversity and half-hearted search for identity was in play, a period where a DJ’s set could include Voodoo Ray, Charly, and some nasty Belgian techno. Made in Two Minutes is universally loved by clubbers (it even had a re-release on Pete Waterman’s label!), and though it inevitably had a million remixes over time, and the vocal version is iconic, my personal favourite is the 1991 instrumental, as it never failed to set the club alight and yet retain some kind of collective reverence where we actually wanted to stop and listen to the track.

6. Nu-Matic — Hard Times [1992]
A dirty, springy reggae-tinged floor filler came out of XL in early 1992, the label that had given us the Prodigy. One of the hardcore bridges to jungle and drum and bass, it combined crackly sampled beats and vocals. It gave me my first experience of seeing an entire rave audience bouncing.

5. Jonny L — Hurt You So [1992]
Like Plastic Jam, John Lisners’ timeless classic could still feature in sets now. Personally, it reminds me of driving down the M11 at dawn more than it does the floor of any club, a pretty and upbeat groove.

4. Acen — Trip II the Moon (Part 1, Part 2, Kaleidoscopiklimax) [1992]
Acen’s Trip II the Moon series of releases were astoundingly melodic, clever and intricate (particularly the ambitious Kaleidoscopiklimax), while retaining enough of the qualities of their genre, including the hard and clean beats. His use of John Barry’s Bond themes was way ahead of its time and it’s no surprise that Acen Razvi is now a filmmaker.

3. Lennie De Ice — We are I.E. (original mix) [1992]
Despite a good minute and a half of build up, this was a white label everyone had to have. All we heard was ‘We are E!’ and then that the madly hectic and irresistible breakbeat that seemed to incite a whole club to do the running man! ‘Let me hear you scream!’ Rough as f*ck and pure hardcore.

2. SL2 — DJs Take Control (Original Version) [1991]
Grimy, crackly and unorthodox sampled beats, a sublime keyboard chorus as the track grooves along, ‘How’s everyboy feelin?’ and the crowd all roar back, ‘Alright!’ The AA was Way In My Brain, a more sinister and drug-fuelled anthem for the google eyed gurning monsters, but DJs was a classy addition from XL and a diamond in all the rough.

1. The Prodigy — Charly (Alley Cat Mix) / Your Love [1991]
What else? The ultimate rave template, ransacking the past, the Essex boys make good. Before the ‘purists’ and whispy-chinned wankers at the Beeb and music press (who hankered for a return of the ‘authentic’ Old Grey Whistle Test) attempted to expose rave for being a bunch of teenagers in their bedrooms, Liam Howlett and his chums made what may be the most successful crossover rave tune. Lauded in clubs and in fields as a dancefloor filler, and retaining credibility despite being so popular, Charly was blamed for spawning a couple of hideous copycats (pun alert). But it was a little like blaming David Bowie for Gary Glitter. And why did Charly manage to achieve this success? It was simply so good, with those signature beats and such a dark melody and overtones. And while Summers Magic was a ground breaker, Charly (particularly the Alley Cat Mix) is the king of rave tunes. Backed up with the sublime Your Love on the AA side, showing off Liam’s classically trained pianist fingers that gave us a ‘hands in the air’ anthem, Charly peaked at 3 in the UK singles chart. With Charly, as they then did with their follow up Everybody in the Place (I defy anyone not to fall in love a little bit with Leeroy and Keith in that video), Charly conjured up a mixture of the demonic and of childhood. Let’s all take class A, rush our faces off, wear brightly coloured tops, listen to a cat called Charley from our childhood warning us of the perils of strangers, and blow whistles! Classic rave.

The honourable mentions
DSK — What Would We Do [1991]
N.R.G. — I Need Your Lovin’ [1993]
Liquid — Liquid is Liquid [1991]
Midirain — Eyes (Bizarre Inc mix) [1991]
The Scientist — The Bee (Honeycomb remix) [1990]
Krome and Time — This Sound Is For The Underground [1992]
Phuture Assassins — Future Sound [1992]
Moby — Go (video mix) [1991]
Nebula II / Atheama (Remix) [1991]
Blame — Music Takes You (Original Version) [1992]

Tom James

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Tom James

Tom James

Another man with opinions. Hooray! Author of the book Your Children Are Boring or How Modern Parents Ruin Everything.

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