Launched in 1989, XL Recordings were one of the main pioneers of UK dance music and certainly paved the way for many acts in the early 90’s. The Prodigy became one of the labels biggest success stories, releasing ‘Charlie’ in 1991 followed by a string of massive dance anthems. Other underground artists such as Slipmatt & Lime (SL2) and Ellis D used XL as a huge platform for their music and by 1992 it was certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Their legendary black and white logo would be seen all over the place, from MA2 bomber jackets, lighters, slipmats and car stickers. For some ravers, this was probably their first experience in fan based merchandise and before long the market became a wash with record labels and event promoters selling all kinds of products.
Fast forward past the massive hip hop anthem ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain, Liquid’s monster crossover ‘Sweet Harmony’ and the Jonny L’s original version of ‘Piper’ and you get to 1997. A massive year for drum & bass where the likes of Helter Skelter, Warning, United Dance and Slammin’ Vinyl were reigning supreme in the promotions game and everything from UK garage, happy hardcore, gabba techno and jungle was being played under one roof at many raves nationwide.
Grooverider already had a string of releases to him name stretching way back to the early 90’s. He was also no stranger to remix work either with Ray Keith trusting him with one of jungle’s biggest anthems ‘Terrorist’ in 1994 although it was Rider’s relick of ‘Piper’ that really saw him stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Exactly how Grooverider took ‘Piper’ and made it into a dark, steppy roller that shook every corner of a rave and made everyone in it feel like a military soldier is beyond me. The track is reminiscent of jam packed, low lit events where the lighting technician had gone a little overboard with the fog machine. If a DJ was ever in search of a tune that set a certain tone and managed to raise every hair on every ravers arm in the building, this would be it.
I’ve reached out this week to some good friends in the scene for their memories of this tune, check it below:
Pete Edwards (Warning)
“This was a 100% Warning tune, the original was heavy but Rider changed the game with the remix. He gave it so much suspense and attitude that even the Predator would be scared of it!”
“This was in 1997 when I had started working with Ice Cream Records and had kind of turned my back on the scene due to being disillusioned with how things had developed. Looking back now though it’s easy to see that it had to happen but at the time I wasn’t really feeling the mechanical, hard edged sound. The Grooverider relick of ‘Piper’ however, was and always will be a fucking tune!
“It was a bit before my time when it was on plate but I do remember Mampi, Zinc, Brockie and of course Rider playing it at The Sanctuary years ago. This tune with its steppy industrial vibe always really suited the warehouse type raves and paved the way for the early Bad Company sound in my option.”
Benny V (Dance Concept)
“DJ Hype at Helter Skelter – Time I think, smashes the fuck out it! I think he even drops an unconventional mix with Champion DJ over the top. Vibes were unbelievable!”
“It is cinematic, when I listen to tunes like this I am taken on a actual journey. The way it builds up, then drops into that pounding bassline and then rolls along adding new elements here and there. Full of atmosphere, it’s like a movie, reminds me of ‘The Terminator’ for some reason. Brockie’s ‘Mars’ is also one to watch out for.
Thought provoking unlike when I listen to some of these new jump up tunes where the only thing I can muster is a roll of my eyes and a fucking face palm.”
Eddie ‘Wolf’ Bale
“The only thing that I can say about this tune is that it used to go OFF in the dance, it was like nothing on the scene at the time. I still play it and it still sounds fresh.”
“It elicits a physical response from me every time i hear it whether it’s to make my body start moving in some way or just to make my face snarl. Fucks with your head too, I remember hearing it out and being convinced that it was just getting faster and faster faster and soon it was going to make my head explode lol”
“This is probably THE tune that really turned my head and got me in to drum and bass. So simple, yet so effective. I still get goosebumps when that bassline kicks in!
“HUGE! Hunted for it for ages after hearing it on a tape unfortunately I thought it said “I can’t.. ..stop” which wasn’t helping matters.”
“It set a mood, a dark mood, whilst at the same time adding vibe to any set. It was also a bitch to mix in but well worth the effort.”
“Grooverider always has had his own take on drum and bass and over the years has provided some sublime remixes, putting his own slant on what was already a great tune. The remix of ‘Piper’ is one of those tunes that catches you everytime you hear it, and like Groove’s remix of the terrorist he has taken an already great tune and made it better.”
“Such a driving, militant feel to it, proper slice of science fiction funk, so many sick little elements in there that all add to the groove, but that little bass riff, those shakers, those subtle little robotic fills, that little percussion loop and those alien ululations just slay me every time. I’m still hearing new little elements in it every time I listen! That snarly midrange that comes in after it switches up are utterly sick too.
The genius of the original ‘Piper’ was to take the recipe of drum and bass and reduce it to its absolute bare essentials, and remixing that without missing the point was always going to be tough, but the remix just knocked it out of the park completely!“