Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s

One tiny peevelet of mine about pop criticism is the gawping that results when a mainstream band dares to use an ‘unusual’ word in a song. The classic example being Oasis’ “Acquiesce”, mentions of which dwelt gushingly on the title as if Noel Gallagher had just started a self-funded teen literacy program. (Though to tell the truth Noel seemed just as pleased with himself.) Anyway, given the fuss resulting from a working class Northerner using a three-syllabler it’s odd that nobody noticed the delightful way “preponderance” creeps into “Drop Top Caddy”. Probably because when this sublime double A-sider, the finest jungle 12″ I’ve heard since 1995, sidled out everybody was concentrating on Be Here Now anyway, no doubt watching out for further verbal gymnastics from the people’s poet.

Hold on – finest jungle 12″ since 1995? Are you sure? Well, yes: jump-up (which is the micro-genre of drum’n’bass Urban Takeover busy themselves with) was the best thing to happen to jungle since its unsurpassable early peak. It bypassed the acqueous sump which ‘intelligent’ drum and bass had fallen into, and cocked a streetwise snook at the skunk-raddled dystopianism of tech-step. In its place came a remorselessly efficient dancefloor music which harked back to and tarted up all the stuff which made jungle so cool initially – movie samples, joint-twisting acceleration beats, and massive souped-up basslines. If the stuff being put out by Aphrodite (who is half of Urban Takeover) lacked anything, it was the bubbling primeval invention-glop which made early jungle as unpredictable as a million bees. “Bad Ass”, despite its merciless rump-empowerment, is laid-back, something which early 90s hardcore never was. That insouciance also makes jump-up tunes to an extent interchangeable, though “Bad Ass” and “Drop Top Caddy” nose it for, respectively, the magnificent build-ups and the seismic waveform bass. As a last superbad hurrah for drum’n’bass, it’ll more than do.