You’ve got to admit it, in terms of the instrumental, Garage has REALLY dropped the ball. You could happily listen to a whole evening of without an MC as recently as 2001, but now they’re pretty dull on their own.
Yeah, but deliberately. I mean, the whole shift to MC-led trax — which was, like, inexorable from summer 99 onwards — meant that the backing track became kinda functional. Just a backing track. Nobody cares unless they’re spittin’. Interestingly, on the Roll Deep website’s mixes, the MCs are going all the time until the DJ drops something a bit retro, a bit more uptempo, something with a groove and a melody — and then the MCs take a breather. There’s no space for rapping. Of course, from the DJ’s point of view — and the crowd’s — this is their chance to actually have a dance instead of just nodding their heads to the spastic slo mo (just kiddin, folks!).
Anyway… you’ll probably all be disgusted to hear that you can still listen to great MC-free garage on the radio and online, real old skool vibe but with new tracks (I can hear Skykicking sharpening his pencil with gritted teeth!). Just listen in to Femme Fatale’s show on 1Extra (yeah, you’re all laughing out loud now!). I recorded her last show into the Mac — fantastic, especially for an old Upfront FM fan like me, cos she did a loud of shouts to old Upfront faces and dropped some ’98 2step tracks. Kicking. She also played an MJ Cole remix of Battle which was ace, as you’d expect (I always had ideological problems with Battle but never let them interfere with enjoyment of it as a tune). Now, I have no idea just how “dead” 2step is out there in garageland (shades of the Clash!) — probably pretty stone cold judging by the track listings on Juno (if there’s an audience, there’s a product right? Right? Errrrrrrr…) — but it still sounds pretty fucking fabulous to me. And any chance to re-open the sores of the “2step is dead — and it’s shit — and it’s conservative” debate has got to be worth a giggle!