I know I am probably going to get TONS of responses from drum and bass fans saying “what about that track” or “how the hell can you forget this track”, however I feel with all things and history considered, these tracks truly represent the rich collection of the sounds that defined summer drum and bass throughout. Even I look over this list over and over and feel like I am missing quite a few very noteworthy songs, but it’s hard to refine such a potent dance floor fuel that is DNB without excluding some of my own personal favorites. Feel free to share what you think your favorite summer DNB tunes are!
Here we go:
10. Drop It Down – Calibre ft. Fats (Signature), 2004
This one instantly puts down the summer skankin’ vibes with its jazzy simple piano chords right out of the get, only to be met up at the break with sultry vocals from the legendary MC Fats. He says it all with this track:
I rock the old, I rock the young,
I rock the weak, I rock the strong.
Jump up and down, love me some more,
Ragtime tune, never do you no wrong.
Drop it Down!
9. Sweet Harmony – Danny Byrd ft. Liquid [original mix and jungle remix] (Hospital) 2010
This one has two versions, each one equally deadly, however putting the two versions in the same category is like saying a Great White and a Bengal Tiger are the same type of predator. The original mix has infectious deep grooves that start a build into a classic early 90’s style piano vox riff. The type of thing that sounds familiar, like the days of ravings roots, but is fresh and inviting. Toss in some classic sounding diva vocals, a dash of some sexy string riffs, drop in heavy bass and mix it down with some amazing production and simmer to a dancey bubbly boil. OH WAIT, just as the groove is rolling on, Mr. Byrd demonstrates his mastery by switching it up to some heavy bass wobbles and starts the journey all over again.
The Jungle Remix starts with the venerable classic amen cuts and the same lovely layers of sound as the original mix. However, as you will no doubt discover at the break, the MC in the drop lets you know dis gwan be some bad bwoy bizness. Amen chops, horns and classic womp bassline take you back to 1995, deep in the jungle.
8. Sigma ft. Takura – Summer Sun (Hospital) 2012
This is a brand new one, but already a classic. Takura’s vocals trail over the filtered textured synths and pulsating bassline take you away to some exotic locale with thousands of your best friends raving till the sun sets, and continue dancing till it rises again. Music with this much vibe is a drug all its own, pumping deep into your grey matter euphoric audio that leaves you satisfied long after the song is over.
7. DJ Marky and Bungle – 25th Floor VIP (Innerground) 2005
This is one that comes out of left field with just a hard pounding amen loop rework only to break down into sultry female coos and sexy lady aaahs. It then continues to build with so much of a sunshine sexy vibe; you will want to buy a bikini. It doesn’t do much as far as progression, however what it lack in complexity it makes up for in beauty. It will build mildly and draw you in with some sort of Gypsy drum and bass magic. It may have been released in October of that year, but it grew to be a summer classic to all the true DNB heads.
6. DJ Fresh ft. Adam F – When the Sun Goes Down [any version] (Breakbeat Chaos) 2005
This was created from the start to be the anthem, in all its venerable forms. Since this had so many remixes (I only listed the ones I like), I will give you the short and sweet synopsis of each.
Original – Club anthem, hands up sounds, all around summer banger.
Origin Unknown – Heavier, more dirty, more of an event big room take on an instant classic.
Dillinja – Mighty. Punch your Mum sounds. May start a mosh pit.
5. DJ Marky and XRS ft. Stamina MC – LK (Innerground) 2004
If there was ever a tune that truly defined what should be expected from a perfect liquid summer vibe DNB tune, this may be it, setting the bar extremely high for those to follow. The congas, voxes, cartoony panning vocal cuts, clever guitar picking, and of course the lovely Stamina MC vocals, I mean this track has it all. A MUST PLAY at a DNB summer festival.
4. Steve Angello and Laidback Luke ft. Robin S – Show Me Love 2009 ( Blame Remix) (Ministry of Sound) 2009
The formula is simple. You take an early nineties diva house classic, add two superstar DJ/ Producers to reinvent it, then get a superstar DNB DJ/ Producer to remix it, yet somehow in all that never lose the beautiful soulful aesthetic it contained over 16 years previously. Sounds easy enough right?
This has always had the “blue summer romance” vibe even in 1993. This just makes it dance harder.
3. Michael Jackson – Human Nature (Makoto and Specialist Remix) (Bootleg) 2008
Talk about bringing back a classic and taking it to the next level. Existential DNB meets King of Pop in what may seem the most unlikely marriage of music next to disco and metal. Although yet, somehow this came out beautifully. Capturing the heart tugging melody and Michael crying “oh why” of the original while making it upbeat and dance worthy. No easy feat, but captured masterfully.
2. Chase and Status ft. Digga – Take You There (Informer) 2010
This song does for DNB what RNB did for the mid-nineties. Simply put, this is sex music. This is third date, after dinner, walk on the beach, playful flirting, skin on skin, electric SEX MUSIC. Just clean solid simplicity in the production, no frills, making this one the sneaky DJ weapon to get your ladies. Like tiger pheromones for the ears.
1. High Contrast – Return of Forever (Klute Remix) (Hospital) 2002
(mix rip) tough tune to find!
To many, this was the track that started it all. Liquid was never quite defined as it was with this track. The majestic orchestra horns, the sultry swell of the strings, the smooth entropic vocal, and the contrasting syncopated bassline set this FAR apart of the tech step and dark DNB that clouded the landscape of DNB at the time. This created a mythical Mount Olympus soundscape, which in hindsight seemed fitting as High Contrast rose to be one of the deities of drum and bass on the colossal label that became Hospital Recordings, and this tune became one of those tunes many DJ’s wanted to play, but few could get their hands on, which added to its allure and tantalizing nature. There have been many like it since, but none quite like it before.