Jamie’s Jungle Book – Part Seventeen
Gavin King, known as Aphrodite to the world of Drum & Bass, was the undisputed king of 90’s Jump Up. Often imitated but never outdone, his production style was so unique that you could instantly pick out an Aphrodite tune during his time at the top. Some of his biggest tunes include ‘King of the Beats’, ‘Stalker’ (used in the film Human Traffic) and the world famous remix of Yazz’s ‘Abandon Me’. He also worked and produced alongside Micky ‘Pussyclot’ Finn and although the story of how they met in Blackmarket Records has been told countless times this was certainly a fundamental moment for the history books.
Aphrodite’s main alias ‘A-Zone’ was used when releasing ‘Calling the People’ in 1994. Supported by literally everyone with a turntable at the time, it was certainly one of the year’s biggest releases. If you can’t remember it then click here, the introduction alone will make the hair on your arms stand up. If you are missing this from your collection it was repressed in 2001 and can be picked up for the price of a sandwich here.
As the jungle scene evolved into drum & bass, Aphrodite’s production also changed and it was his ‘95 release ‘Bomber’ that really started to create waves. Jump up, a sub genre which seemed to appear from nowhere went hand in hand with Aphrodite’s dancefloor orientated production and alongside Micky Finn, the pair championed this new movement for many years.
The sub genre that is still known as jump up has taken a heavy bashing over the years, what with its multitude of direction changes. It went from big, heavy basslines in the 90’s to being dubbed ‘Clown Step’ in the early 2000’s to almost non existent bassline around 2007. Thankfully in some respects, producers of 2012 and beyond seem to have got part of the scene back on track but it has certainly come at a cost in terms of lost respect from fans of other styles of drum & bass.
Releasing the self titled ‘Aphrodite’ in 1999 and ‘After Shock’ in 2002, he was a producer that could churn out individual hit after hit. Both albums contained huge anthems and although you couldn’t deny the quality of ‘After Shock’ it was the ‘99 album that was heavily supported by UK DJs. Featuring tracks such as B.M Funksta, Listen to the Rhythm, Woman that Rolls and Style From The Dark Side ‘99, this was a monster of an album, pressed on a total of 6 vinyl records. Aphrodite also released many CD only DJ mix compilations, made up of his own tunes, unreleased gems and other popular tracks from the likes of Potential Bad Boy and Mulder. Highlights include: ‘Urbanthology Volume 1’, ‘Urban Junglist’ and ‘Break In Reality’ which was sadly only released in the US.
The original ‘Dark Side’ tune was released in 1996 entitled ‘Style from the Darkside’ with ‘Spice’ receiving B side treatment. If my memories serves me correctly, this was released before ‘King of the Beats’ although at the time, well known DJ’s such as DJ Hype, Ellis D and obviously Micky Finn were caning their dubplates of both tunes at every available opportunity.
‘Style from the Darkside 99’ was part of the ‘Aphrodite’ album and when I spoke to Gavin sometime ago he confirmed that this was his favourite version of the track. The Recuts series featured ‘Darkside 99’, however this isn’t another version but more of an abbreviation of the title from the 1999 remix.
‘Private Plates Volume 1’ saw a limited release in 1998 and featured ‘Wikki Wikki Plate’ on the A side with ‘Dark Dark Side’ and ‘Sweet Mind’ on the flip. Although there is no doubt that the A side is a massive tune, my personal favourite from this release is ‘Dark Dark Side’. It’s as if Aphrodite took the tune to its maximum level of greatness, double and triple timing the vocal samples and adding another layer of wallop to the bassline (wallop really is the only word to use to describe it!). Taking a tune from 1996 and effectively beefing it up could really only be done by a few select producers, it wasn’t in a form of a lazy ‘VIP’ rehashing a few ideas and changing a few notes in the bass, it was if Aphrodite sat in the studio and said to himself “I’m not done with you yet”.
Is Aphrodite due to make a production comeback in 2015? His Soundcloud certainly suggests it..
One thing that I did learn from writing this article is that Aphrodite remixed East 17’s Christmas anthem ‘Stay Another Day’ – you know, the one where they all wore white puffa jackets in the video. Legendary!
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