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Mar 15

OXIDE AND NEUTRINO – “Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty)”

Popular86 comments • 4,470 views

#857, 6th May 2000

bound reload “Certain guys can’t face the fact of what we’ve done
Sold over a quarter of a million
Casualty went straight to number one
And still they wanna cuss come on
Oh yeah about the Casualty theme?
Well no one controls the scene
So you do what you want and you do what you like and you do what you please”
– Oxide and Neutrino, ‘Up Middle Finger’

There’s more than one way to make an 18 year old into a pop star. Craig David was a record industry dream – UK garage as a cradle for a new generation of international stars. Oxide and Neutrino represented a different future, one the biz had far less idea how to cope with in the long term. Though for now, and for the duo’s record label East West, the success of “Bound 4 Da Reload” was actually business as usual: find a hot sound in the clubs or on the pirates, license it, push it onto the charts. The main opposition to Oxide and Neutrino’s overnight success came from within garage – the pirates and the clubs in open disagreement. “Reload”, belligerent, snotty and unsophisticated, was a flashpoint record for the scene’s internal politics and anxieties.

So what was the problem? It was partly generational. A few months later, the duo scored another hit, their third: “Up Middle Finger” was a scornful, bitter attack on the garage tastemakers who’d disdained their debut. The people they had in mind were DJs in or near their thirties who helped nurture UK Garage into a take on dance music that balanced the soulful and the futurist. DJ Spoony of the Dreem Teem, for instance, whose recent elevation to Radio 1’s resident garage expert made him one of the most powerful individuals in the country’s pop scene – and who was not especially enamoured of what the younger MCs and posses (like Oxide and Neutrino’s sprawling So Solid Crew) were doing. Those kids – late teens, early 20s – were starting to turn turning their back on the smoother 2-step sound and pushing darker, harder-edged elements from hip-hop and rave further up in the music.

It’s possible to make too much of these internal divisions, to overplay how brutal a break productions like DJ Oxide’s represented. After all, you only have to go back a year or two – to 187 Lockdown’s thrilling “Gunman” – to find the mocking, timestretched samples, skeletal keyboard refrains and gunshot sounds of “Bound 4 Da Reload” on a Top 40 hit. But the split was real: there’s no sign of Oxide and Neutrino on early 2001 compilations from established garage brands like Pure Silk or Twice As Nice, and “Up Middle Finger” showed how keenly the snubs were felt.

Outside the context of garage beefs and generational splits, in the wider world of pop this blog explores, “Reload” is a shocking, Martian interruption, the charts’ transmitter suddenly hijacked. Again, you can overplay this angle. It’s not the fact that a couple of kids had made a white label and hit No.1 that surprises, or even that it’s kids from South and East London coming up via pirate radio. Tracks had been jumping from the pirate stations to white labels to the Top 5 for over a decade by this point. It’s harder to imagine an Oxide And Neutrino style success now than it was then, but that’s another issue.

But the explanations don’t account for the sound of this thing. Other white label successes tended to be tracks whose pop qualities were a little more overt. When SL2 or even early Prodigy – the obvious precursor to Oxide and Neutrino, as the duo’s “No Good 2 Me” made official – made it into the Top 10, their records worked as pop crossover. They were a dayglo filter on more subterranean activities. “Reload” has a massive gimmick for its hook – the theme tune from BBC hospital soap Casualty, which meshes with the production eerily well – but that’s all it concedes to pop. The rest of the track is raw in a way number ones very rarely are. Most chart music colours itself in, filling up its spaces to fill the airwaves better. Not so “Reload”, bumping along on deep bass that makes the track feel empty and jagged, its ideas and incidents splintered. A repeated sample from Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels blasts a hole in the song where its chorus should be – on the video, a bad-trip travelogue through a rave, kids bend double in agony when the sample hits, then look up and crack into a grin. The malign hilarity of the track summed up. “Reload” is – as much as a 250,000 selling record can be – hermetic, existing on its own terms not pop’s or even garage’s: you either know them, accept them, or turn away baffled.

Beyond its starkness, “Reload” has another weapon: its vocalist. Neutrino is not likely to feature on many lists of the great British MCs – his thick, phlegm-clotted rapping has never been especially expressive, and even within So Solid he was quickly overshadowed by other vocalists. But he’s perfect and important here, because his flow on “Reload” feels so faithful to the sound of his era’s pirate radio. Judging from surviving YouTube clips – it would be wrong to pretend I was there, listening, at the time – he has simply turned up and done exactly what he would have done over this beat, mid-show on Delight FM. It’s in the way he rolls out the MCs arsenal, from prepared bars, to scatting, to call and response, to simply marking time over the beat – “Digga digga dee, digga digga dee”. Neutrino is what turns “Reload” from a novelty into a snapshot. The only precedent I can think of for this at Number One is “The Special AKA Live!” – another short, unvarnished sketch of club music and subculture, plonked at the top of the charts with little compromise and less explanation.

And there’s something else vital about Neutrino – the fact he’s on the track at all. Oxide and Neutrino might not have been the first kids to break from Brixton bedrooms and parties into the Top Ten, but however important MCs were on radio or in the clubs during the rave era, they hardly made it onto records. With the rise of MCs on record, UK garage and its people had a voice, a host of voices. Once that door had opened it would be hard to close.

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Comments

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  1. 76
    Fivelongdays on 4 Mar 2015 #

    @75

    No matter what Wires is about, that doesn’t stop Athlete from being a bunch of dull, whiney, nesh bollocks. Fuck me, they were dire.

  2. 77
    chelovek na lune on 4 Mar 2015 #

    At least we never have any need to discuss the utter tedium of the music of David Gray at Popular….I’d thought/hoped….. (would never have guessed an Oxide and Neutrino thread would go in quite that direction). Maybe we can coin the term “dadsoul” for Sam Smith, a bit ahead of the game, though…

  3. 78
    Kinitawowi on 4 Mar 2015 #

    @75: I liked Be Mine.

    COME AT ME BROS

    No time for O&N, I’m afraid. 3.

  4. 79
    AMZ1981 on 4 Mar 2015 #

    I think the `David Gray and others` discussion is relevant to quite a few recent entries. When discussing Fool Again Tom referred to `islands of fans with nothing to say to each other`and David Gray et al proves this wasn’t quite true as the MOR balladry probably appealed equally to the post Britpop crowd and the more mature Westlife fans. Given that many of the first category would enjoy more guitar heavy rock as well and the latter connected to Five, A1 et al David Gray arguably gives us the missing link. Add to that you had the more commercial end of RnB connecting into the grey area between Westlife and David Gray which in turn led to Oxide and Neutrino.

    I appreciate that it’s not quite as simple as I suggested but I think that’s where popular music was in 2000.

    I think it was the culture at the time. I liked White Ladder in 2000 but can’t see the appeal now. With hindsight it’s no wonder kids wanting to form a band and have a blast with their mates took their lead from Blink 182.

  5. 80
    Auntie Beryl on 4 Mar 2015 #

    #76 It’s at times like these that I pop up and defend the *first* Athlete album: much as the second one (“Wires”, etc) was dull, their debut fizzled with an agreeable quirkiness which was a mile away from, say, Turin Brakes.

    Is it widely known round here that much of the as yet unbunnied George Ezra’s album was cowritten by Athlete lead singer Joel Athletebloke? Another link between then and now.

    Bet Ed Bunnyman owns both Thrills albums.

  6. 81
    punctum on 5 Mar 2015 #

    “Argh! Shit! I’ve been shot! I don’t fucking believe this! Could everyone stop getting SHOT?”

    Smacking the listener back down to earth from the illusory promises of being taken higher, the first number one to originate from the So Solid collective – UK Garage’s own Broken Social Scene from the other side of Clapham Junction, if you will; the south of the river successors to Shut Up And Dance – is pitiless in its cooling rationalism. Oxide and Neutrino were, respectively, DJ and MC and the seeming boundless joy of Neutrino’s toasting is immediately deceptive when set against the helicopter blades of bluntly stalking beats and chilling pointillistic stabs of string synth (a meme originating when SUAD sampled Byrne and Sakamoto’s Last Emperor soundtrack for 1991’s astonishing “The Green Man”); the bloodied chill of the dark, enclosed council estate.

    As hardcore and cutting edge as Garage came in 2000, “Bound 4 Da Reload” owed a good deal of its success to its astute sampling of the theme from the long-running BBC1 hospital soap Casualty; its sirens blare uncomfortably close to hand, and both motifs are periodically punctuated by rounds of city-shattering gunshots and the above sampled dialogue – it is one of So Solid’s many calls for gun-on-gun crime to cease, and was as little heeded then as it would be now.

    Set against this hyperactive bleakness, Neutrino correctly figures that the best way to deal with and overcome this oppression is to scream nonsense back in the oppressors’ faces – “I Am The Walrus” or Alexis Kanner’s Number 48 in the final episode of The Prisoner, anyone? – and thus he bounces through reams of “diggy diggy down”s and the Gertrude Stein-worthy “When I say you say we say they say make some noise” (not to mention the even more subversive “sing birdy sing” interjections later on). The record’s steel doors slam shut as firmly as they had opened but Neutrino’s final grunt of “uh!” comes across as a satisfied snort of victory; haven’t we been here before recently?

  7. 82
    Inanimate Carbon God on 6 Mar 2015 #

    FWIW Babylon wasn’t released until 1 July, and it peaked at #5; we’ll hear from him thrice on TPL, but I acknowledge there are sensitive personal reasons which mean that blog must be put to one side for now.

    On a lighter note, thank you, Marcello, for continuing your detailed Popular posts. They add infinite new dimensions to this blog, for example in each entry I’ll see at least one reference to a famous person, band, or event I haven’t even heard of, given my born-in-Blackburn-in-1985 limited cultural existence, and I Google and (keep feeling) fascination. I understand if you want to pass on my offer of a Gang of Four-inspired cover of Toca’s Miracle. But hope you can keep up the great work.

  8. 83
    Tommy Mack on 7 Mar 2015 #

    “The rejection of that in favour of grittier no-girls-allowed stuff is something you see again and again and again in music history from the 60s to now” – I reckon that’s a bit unfair, for every ‘no girls allowed’ prick, there are probably a dozen or more men thinking ‘I wish more women were into jungle/metal/Warhammer/steam trains etc.’

  9. 84
    fivelongdays on 8 Mar 2015 #

    @83 speaking with my metalhead hat on, yep. I’m sure there are people into other ‘masculine’ types of music (although it really goes without saying that masculine isn’t the same as male and feminine isn’t the same as female) who’d agree!

  10. 85
    Inanimate Carbon God on 13 Mar 2015 #

    APPROACH WITH CAUTION: 80% RISK OF TL;DR

    I also have fond memories of May 6, 2000 as it’s when Burnley, inspired by Ian Wright (no, really) in his last game in professional football won 2-1 at Scunthorpe to seal the runners up spot in League One. Somehow, we haven’t been out of the top two divisions since. Given Scunthorpe’s ground only held 9,000, my dad and I fought tooth and nail to get a ticket, or more accurately stood outside with a placard reading “WILL PAY £100” and were granted our (bargained) wish by someone who looked like the spit of Cat Weasel, living out in the wilds of Rossendale in a three-storey house that looked like each floor was twice the weight of the one below it.

    It was somewhat the end of an era in English football, with Bradford’s defeat of Liverpool handing Leeds (no, really) the Champions League fourth place and condemning the original Wimbledon to the drop from the top division after unprecedentedly spending as many years there as Westlife had number ones. I just hope this fella bawling his eyes out is okay nowadays, like anyone against the New Acoustic Movement, he’d go through even worse in the next few years: http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/1470000/images/_1470018_wimcry300.jpg

    But you don’t need me to tell you it was a strange year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999%E2%80%932000_in_English_football#Premier_League

    Anyway, enough about the greedy oily-garch bastards’ game (formerly the Beautiful Game (formerly the People’s Game)), here’s my review of the other new entries in the Top 75 for 6 May, 2000. It’s like Pick of the Pops.. in fact, it’s like a resurrected From the Bottom to the Top that I’m having a lot of fun with.. your mileage may vary.

    (* indicates it peaked at this position)

    #6* – MANDY MOORE – “Candy”

    David Icke (or VH-2, or The Amp’s) lizards lick my neck and tell me not to like this. Chk-chk-chk* like the next #1, but counterbalanced with ace sugary, summery New Jack Swing charm from the perma-Disney Britney whose most decadent airborne activity was probably swallowing the free crayons. At 23. But TLC’s “Waterfalls” corrupted by Taylor Swift spoken-word frankly scares me.. so the safety word is 6

    #10* – MJ COLE FT. ELISABETH TROY – “Crazy Love”

    Almost the polar opposite of O&N’s take on UK Garage; from the rubble to the Ritz, almost too wine bar for comfort, especially after the sensual, urban-fox menace of Sincere. AND he went to the Royal College of Music. Say something outrageous, Sleaford Mods! Yet there’s enough unbridled joy in Troy’s all-embracing voice and the looping synths to render everything I just said irrelevant. 8

    #11* – LOLLY – “Per Sempre Amore (Forever In Love)”

    Had three lurid pop dreams last week. The first was a bar fight with Ed Bunny, telling him “You’re a nice guy but you’re just not very good.” The second was drinking Special Brew in my garden with Martika. The third was a 22-going-on-6 Sutton Coldfielder (the new Stevenage?) is warmly invited to Livin’ La Vida Loca’s party and douses it in a smoothie of cat food and green piss. 2

    #12* – SCOOCH – “The Best Is Yet To Come”

    Because I guess it can’t get any worse than this. Makes Brotherhood of Man sound like Cabaret Voltaire. Makes One For Sorrow by Steps sound like a shotgun wedding of Laibach and Einsturzende Neubaten. Makes my MIDI files of Minority, Basket Case and Million Miles Away sound like the year 5000. Even while edited on Noteworthy Composer to “Instrument 242: Piccolo.” They’ll.. be.. back. 1

    #16* – PRECOCIOUS BRATS FT. KEVIN AND PERRY – “Big Girl”

    Never seen this film, as I’ve often found Harry Enfield’s programmes a more constipated Fast Show. Perhaps the Kevin the Teenager parodies misfired the most as unlike Ali G’s suburban, over-Americanised mock-gangster, none of the “Ibiza crowd” acted remotely like this in real life back then unironically thinking they were the bee’s knees. Horrid in-yer-face haka/muzak, not sure if actually funny. 2

    #19* – SYSTEM F – “Cry”

    Ferry Corsten was born in Rotterdam on 4 December, 1973. He has clogged the toilet 107 times and run out of toilet paper on 166 occasions. Despite this he hasn’t ever managed to convert this existential angst into a non-godawful pseudonym. Generic trance banger that could have been released this week, with Hans Moleman’s sister on vocals and gratuitously Balearic piano – so quite tasty. 7

    #24 – DEATH IN VEGAS – “Dirge”

    Yes, it is. I only know of them because a) I confuse them with Dirty Vegas and b) they did a song with Liam Gallagher which was so bland I can’t even think of my token amusing psychosexual schlock-horror reference points for it. 3

    #31 – WILLIAM ORBIT – “Ravel’s Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte”

    Does exactly what it says on the tin, if that tin was marked “Beautiful music for beautiful people on beautiful Mediterranean islands.” Perfectly acceptable for what it does, but not his most life-affirming track and back in 2000 I also thought I would have about as much chance of joining the aforementioned beautiful people as the inventor of the selfie stick has of being Louis Pasteur.6

    #35 – DUTCH FORCE – “Deadline”

    See above for content. See above for.. oh.. yeah, a point knocked off because that sleeve on Spotify (A State of Trance 600) really does look quite worrying in a modern geopolitical context.5

    #39 – Q-TIP – “Vivrant Thing”

    Nowadays this sounds like Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do if it was exported to a country where humour had not yet been invented. And it’s so set in the champagne socialist republic of cod-Jurassic 5 needy hip hop patronised by the lefty bourgeois white middle-class with a few cheeky swear words and Ben and Jerrys references.. do you know, this is a quirky brew from Mr “I was in a hip hop group who rapped unironically about healthy eating” and as a needy middle-class lefty myself I quite like it.. 6

    #55 (peak #49) – MOOGWAI – “Viola”

    That’s not a typo. I repeat. It doesn’t sound like Mogwai. I’m not sure if I’ve heard that much Mogwai, could someone give me a “Top 5 Mogwai tracks the milkman would sing in the morning in a parallel universe where milk is still actually delivered to people’s homes?” It sounds like.. more of the same William Orbit and problematic Parappa the Rapper-gone-terrorist-sleeve Hollandaise people. Zzz. Music for Hollyoaks DVD owners.4

    #59* – ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK – “How To Win Your Love”

    Well, it’s not Please Release Me. So I’m relatively unoffended. I do want to say “Hey, Sherman..” to the ‘Dinck though.3

    #66* – MINT ROYALE – “Take it Easy”

    There’s only one thing worse than white middle-class Southern (Englishmen) who pretend to like hip hop. It’s white middle-class Southerners pretending to be part of the funky uplift tofu party plan. Oh God, it’s the Bees’ Chicken Payback doing a Cuban Boys on Andy Kim’s Rock Me Gently, with a side order of Deee-Lite gone Waitrose. Glorious confusion. Please throw me off a cliff right now. 4

    :shudder: To paraphrase Sir Steven Redgrave, if you think I’m doing a Pick of the Pops again, you have every permission to shoot me.

  11. 86
    ciaran on 14 Apr 2015 #

    If I’m right this was on TOTP at the time where the crowd didnt know what to make of it and stood there in a state of shock. Perhaps the menace put a fear into them.

    Other then that it passed me by. One of the hear today gone tomorrow acts the held the top spot as was the norm in 1999 and 2000.Nothing more or less.

    In retrospect it could be viewed as the start of a new genre rising up from the underground and surely made an impact on the likes of D””’ R””’and Burial to name but a few.

    I dont get all that excited about it nor do I find much to dislike. 5 or a 6.

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