One consequence of the ongoing vinyl revival has been the elevation of record listing website Discogs to all-powerful retail portal. The site, which compiles and documents label discographies, has become the No.1 page through which to buy these records from individuals’ personal collections or second hand stores.
With this, a demand for musical rarities has rocketed. Where once it was dusty jazz, funk or krautrock originals that were in demand, the kinds of rare tunes sampled by golden age hip-hop producers, now it’s rare dance records that are hunted for. A thirst for early ’90s breakbeat hardcore and rave tracks in particular has driven up prices, and some records are going for silly money. DJs or collectors are paying these extortionate sums, too. Some of these records are super obscure white labels, some are classics that slipped through the net first time around, and some are just rare editions of bona fide classics. Here are our favourite vinyl rave rarities…
1. DJ H – The Bass Project
Going rate: £749
Good luck finding one of these for less than 500 quid. An exceptionally rare white label EP of brutal hoover stabs, Loleatta Holloway vocal samples and intense breaks, lead cut Petruccio is a full-on blast, best enjoyed via YouTube unless you’re a real rave completist.
2. Adam F – Pressure
Going rate: £150-£250
An early hardcore cut from the drum'n'bass wizard behind tunes such as Circles and Metropolis, Pressure is incredibly good, with its rolling breaks and restrained stabs. A “test run” edition will set you back, but it’s almost worth it in this case.
3. Fast Floor – On a Quest For Intelligence
Going rate: £1,285
For a mint edition of this lost rave classic, you might need to schedule in a meeting with your bank manager. A mere 30 test pressings of this record saw the light of day as hardcore was rapidly being superseded by the mutations of darkcore and jungle. Fast Floor’s album inexplicably never saw full release, but listening now, it’s wonderful: full of lush atmospheres, UK house vibes and early drum'n'bass experiments.
4. Altern 8 – Full On Mask Hysteria (Picture Disc)
Going rate: £50-£450
Recently reissued, Full On Mask Hysteria is probably the ultimate hardcore record, available in numerous versions. But near-mint copies of the picture disc are scarce indeed.
5. Dance Squad – Everybody
Going rate: £120-£540
While this full-on cheesy quaver classic may be good fun with its belting vocal, dubby bass and one-finger keyboard riff, it’s inexplicable how you’ll not get a decent copy of it for less than £120.
6. Lemon D – Pursuit of a Vision EP
Going rate: £75-£250
An absolutely killer hardcore EP from the Metalheadz and Valve associated drum'n'bass producer. The rolling Amen breaks, sub bass and synth stabs on Pursuit Thru the Darkness are precious indeed.
7. 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Drowning In Her
Going rate: £90-£200
Drum'n'bass producers Foul Play were behind this affirmed hardcore classic which, with its polyrhythmic breakbeat science, helped pave the way for the incipient jungle sound.
8. Origin Unknown – Eastern Promise
Going rate: £250
Andy C and Ant Miles’ infamous d'n'b project is best known for ‘Valley of the Shadows’, but this earlier (excellent) EP is a real rarity in its original RAMM 002 version. The B-side Losing U in particular slays, with its compound of bleeps, hard breakbeats and a chipmunk Dionne Warwick sample.
9. Njoi – Strength
Going rate: £350
Best known for the piano house/rave beast Anthem, in ’93, Njoi’s Nigel Champion and Mark Franklin were clearly fired up by the new darkcore sub genre. The rare Strength was the result – a relentless and raw breakbeat attack that still does damage.
10. DJ Smokey Joe – The Crimewatch Project
Going rate: £170-£200
A real obscurity, this is peak period hardcore. Kiss My Neck packs scratching, chopped up breakbeats and a big piano house sample, while Boomzabang, with its hoover noises, female vocals and big bass riff, has more ideas stuffed in it than 10 other tunes.
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