“Until My Dying Day was a tune UB40 had written, which was touted to be the theme for the latest Bond film at the time (GoldenEye) …”
By the first half of the 90s, UB40’s constant touring had taken its toll and the band was ready for a well-earned rest. During their sabbatical, several of the band’s members worked on their own musical projects. Earl Falconer, the group’s bassist, would follow his passion outside UB40, engaging into jungle/drum and bass production and promotion activities with remarkable success.
In 1992, alongside sound engineer Gerry Parchment and reggae trumpet player Patrick Tenyue, Falconer formed the music act E.Q.P., launching Rough Tone Recordings as a platform to release their own output and develop young local artists. The label’s operations were suspended after three years, coinciding with the time UB40 reconvened to record new material. Furthermore, in 2000, Falconer and long-time friend DJ Swan-E, set up Maximum Boost/Maximum Ammo (both Dope Ammo Records offshoots), in an effort to nurture new talent and inject a new breed of professional artists from other genres and musical styles into the drum & bass scene.
Back in 1996, in an era when drum and bass was already attracting media attention and many artists were signing to major record labels, Falconer commissioned a limited edition series with drum and bass mixes of UB40′s tracks. Acclaimed artists, including the likes of Grooverider, Deep Blue, Dj Ron, Blame & Justice, Swan-E and Ellis Dee, have been involved into remixing duties for some of UB40′s early classics (One In Ten – an explicit reference to UK’s record number of unemployed in the early 80s – King and Burden Of Shame) as well as later singles (Where Did I Go Wrong? and Until My Dying Day). All remixes were released on UB40′s own label Dep International. Dep International was set up after UB40′s contract with Graduate Records expired, with all eight members owning an equal share, effectively enabling the band to exercise total control of their production output. Soon, the label signed a word-wide distribution deal with Virgin Records, operating since under Virgin Records’ wing.
Tony (Justice) Bowes’ recollection of events:
“We met Earl from the group through our friend Terry Wilson, who ran the Funk 21 label and there was talk of some remixes that they wanted to do. So between Earl and Terry the re-mixers were gathered. Our Icons project was blowing up at the same time, so they asked us to do one. ‘Until My Dying Day’ was a tune they had written, which was touted to be the theme for the latest Bond film at the time*. Anyway, this was the track we were given, which was great, because it had the great sax bit and nice bits of vocal work, which we used with a nice reversed reverb effect on them. We added a nice break, some guitar licks and stabs along with an 808 bass. We gave the track to Danny Bukem and he used to hammer it at Speed nights. I think Fabio had it as well, which propelled it into being a bit of a Speed anthem, which still gets interest to this day.”
*that would be GoldenEye, 1995 – Tina Turner’s eponymous song was used as the film’s main theme eventually.
From the promotional press release:
“A bit of a promo with a difference here, this set of club remixes was instigated by the band themselves. The reason a being that a couple of them have been clubbing for some years now and were interested to see what a few of their favourite artists would do to their tracks …”
Stripped from Ali Campbell’s unique vocals, apart from the snippets “If you’re looking for a war …” and “I’ll be leaving …”, which are present throughout the track, the remix is dominated by Brian Travers’ original captivating sax riff, gorgeous synth stabs, chopped beats and a sweeping 808 bass, in full accordance with the sound Icons were representing; keeping the basic components intact, giving a modern urban jazz feel to the mix.
The Icons remix is also included in a limited edition white label version, with catalog number NEW001 and the track Headhunter on the flip-side. There is no release date or other information; perhaps due to the fact that the original remix concept was not intended for extensive commercial use. The interest in the track has revived the last few years, due to an obscure cassette tape rip of a Speed session with Bukem & Fabio (which took place ca 1995 at the Crime Club, in the town of Lampertheim, Germany), that has surfaced on the internet. The Icons remix features in Bukem’s playlist of that night.
One of the recording aliases of Tony Bowes (aka Justice) and Conrad Shafie (aka Blame). The two met while studying media at college in Dunstable, and went into the studio in 1991 to try their hand at producing hip-hop tracks. Instead, they emerged with Death Row – one of the earliest examples of hardcore breakbeat – on Chill Records, a UK bass, bleeps and breakbeat label which was based in Tony’s home town of Luton.
While the rave scene progressed into a self-parodic fluff, Blame and Justice continued producing, both together and on their own. Pushed into new directions by the emergence of a mellower, atmospheric sound in the drum and bass spectrum, the duo released a string of seminal singles on the legendary Moving Shadow and on Basement Records’ sub-label Precious Materials. In late ‘95 the duo formed Modern Urban Jazz Records (re-branded and re-launched as MJAZZ by Justice 12 years later). On Modern Urban Jazz, Blame and Justice released the label’s first two singles, under the Glider-State sobriquet, as well as the critically acclaimed Icons LP Emotions With Intellect, that is still highly praised to this day.
Every track that is presented here has been hand-picked from my personal record collection and has had a profound impact on my musical taste. Featuring a variety of tracks across the electronic music spectrum, emphasizing mainly on drum and bass, from undisputed classics to underrated gems, all are tracks I wish I’d written, as the title of the series suggests.
Visit the blog’s archive for the previous installments of the “Tracks I Wish I’d Written” series here.