In December last year Slipmatt released the amazing SMD: The Ultimate Collection album - a double CD package featuring the original SMD tunes on disc 1 and a mix of originals and remixes on disc 2, all signed by the Godfather of Rave himself. That album sold out in two weeks of pre-release, ahead of the actual album release date! Slipmatt's Ultimate Universal Collection will very likely do the same.
In 1995, when Happy Hardcore was at it's peak, Slipmatt started his own label - Universal Records. The aim was to showcase the wealth of talent on display in the world of UK hardcore at the time. It was a very unique time in British rave culture and there was an infectious energy to the music created by artists such as Slipmatt, Vibes, Dougal, Hixxy, Brisk, Billy Daniel Bunter, Ramos & Supreme, Sy & Unknown, Force and Styles, and many others. This was a time when the UK had a sound all of it's own, when tracks such as "On Top" and "Around the World" by A Sense Of Summer, "Rock This Place" by DJ Chewy and "D-Day" by Sy & Unknown were in every hardcore DJ's record bag, getting played several times a night at rave events up and down the country.
Slipmatt's Ultimate Universal Collection really does bring into focus the significance that Universal Records had on the rave scene at that time. Listen to the few tracks mentioned above - each of them a classic of the genre. The label's first release is now the initial track on Disc 1 - "On Top" by A Sense of Summer (later to become Force and Styles). Close your eyes, press play, and feel the rush as that first piano drops - pure euphoric energy! The effect that these sounds had on us back then is not diminished with time - try listening to this riff from DJ Chewy's "Rock This Place" for further proof. The synth stabs and breakbeats build anticipation right up to the point when all sound is cut to leave the vocal sample alone for those precious four beats signalling that the kick drum was about to drop - bliss! Did it follow a formula? Yes. Did we care? No! It was a formula that worked - it was music production with a punk ethic that focused purely on the experience of the listener.
Universal Records helped soundtrack the rave experience for a generation. For many - myself included - it really is a case of "you had to be there", so in the spirit of that sense of exclusivity it would be wise not to drag your feet if you want a copy of this slice of rave history. It IS limited edition, and it WILL sell out fast. As with the SMD collection every copy is signed by Slipmatt himself making it as much a piece of rave memorabilia as it does a mighty fine album.
If you ever spent the mid to late nineties at a rave bouncing around with the widest of grins then I suggest you take a good look at Slipmatt's Ultimate Universal Collection as I suspect it will unlock a lot of memories for you. A preview of the album's content can be found here. Aside from the complete tracks available on Disc 1 there's a mix of many originals, exclusives and remixes on Disc 2 - see below for the full track-listing for each disc.
The Ultimate Universal Track List – Disc 1
The Ultimate Universal Mix – Disc 2 Mixed by Slipmatt