Masterpieces Of Rave
updated 3 months ago
[A work in progress]
This is not another list of all music played at raves or dance parties at a certain time or place. It's a list concerned with that energetic, main room sound of the very early 90s - predating the melodic trance and hardcore movements that came later.
Some think of rave as the breakbeat driven sound of UK Hardcore; this is not that list.
Nor is it just concerned with big hoovers, mentasm stabs, sawtooth synths or uplifting pianos - proper rave is a bit less obvious and a bit more serious.
But defining exactly what rave is or isn't is even more difficult because it's more a feeling than a style: it can incorporate so many genres and styles, without ever being just one... techno, house, trance; elements of disco, new beat, acid, acid house, breakbeats. It can be a bit trippy, sometimes serious and unrelenting, other times euphoric... often within a single 5 minute track.
While much of it comes from mainland Europe, much of it doesn't (and just because it was released by one nation's label doesn't mean that's where the artist lived). It doesn't even have a fixed chronological date, although 1990 to 1991 might be its peak years - yet there are tunes from years either side of these that slot perfectly into a rave set.
Because it is primarily music to dance to, rave requires energy to carry the track and dancer forwards and there is a certain predictability to its structure so as not to trip a dancer up. Rarely is rave as abstract as techno, or as soulful as house; it doesn't try to distract you with wordy songs. While it has the most connection with 'trance', it doesn't wander around a theme as trance does, and there are not many massive breakdowns or slow builds to nothing.
Tempo is important - most rave tracks get played at about 125 to 128 beats per minute, a speed which not only lets one endure a full night of hard dancing, but is not so fast that it prevents inventive dance moves. It's subjective of course, but I submit that rave produced the best dancers since the breakdance era and hasn't been bettered yet.
Many first-wave producers of early underground movements (Chicago house, Detroit techno, UK hardcore, etc) were inexperienced in the studio, and some lacked much formal music training. In contrast, many of the producers on this list came to rave after years of studio and recording experience. They were using well equipped professional studios and this showed in the polish of their tracks, the originality of their sounds and the wide variety of influences and/or sample sources.
Here's a decent mix of non-cheesy rave:
and a decent rave megamix:
Notes about the list:
- First vinyl issue takes precedence; albums and compilations only included if containing different mixes or otherwise unreleased tracks.
- In no particular order; higher up the list are the essential classics - but there'll be a few obscurities too....
- Included are only the rave tracks of the release, these are not necessarily the best tracks of the release.
- Many artists had multiple pseudonyms or were members of multiple projects, so real names of producers and date of original release are given in notes.