Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s

In the original Predator film, one of a rash of ‘Nam-purging guns’n’grit stompers, Arnie defeats a lethally camouflaged, unknowable jungle assailant with good old-fashioned American brawn. It’s a bore, whereas its sequel has an impact way above its modest artistic ambitions. Predator II moves the action to the urban jungle, a head-beatingly obvious concept which nonetheless struck a very big chord with a lot of drum’n’bass producers, Mega City 2 included. You can see why: it’s a wicked film, fast and paranoid, depicting a city convulsed with violence where everyone’s at everyone else’s throat, one which is being invaded by something new, something technical and brutal, stealthy and infinitely dark.

I imagine Mega City 2 (whoever they were) in a weed-wreathed suburban bedroom studio, flicking between the brittle drumloops on their cheap Amigas and the videos in the corner, rewinding and snipping the heavy, spooky dialogue: “You can’t see the eyes of the demon until him come callin’…fuckin’ voodoo magic, man!”. That was the world darkside junglists wanted to create, where technology and the street mixed with black magic – how else could you explain the sounds (too fast, too evil) coming out of the speakers? Maybe if you heard it for the first time now “Darker Side Of Evil” would sound corny or silly, its beats a bit slow and its horror flick samples absurd. It’ll never sound that way to me. Mega City 2’s track is generic in the best way – a superb example of a superlative style. But still you could substitute it for any of a number of outstanding tracks. Boogie Times Tribe’s “Dark Stranger” perhaps, or Uncle 22’s swaggering “6 Million Ways To Die”, or Sub Nation’s “Scottie” (which manages to turn Star Trek, of all things, into jittery hyperspeed fear-funk). I finally picked Mega City 2, mostly because Predator II is my favourite action film, but also because it was on the first jungle tape I heard, and so the first time I came face-to-face with the 90s’ greatest musical unknown. That counts for a lot.