MJ Cole: 10 inspirational pre-noughties tracks

The UK garage legend shares some of his formative favourites.

Garage ravers and the average British under-40s dance music enthusiast should be more than familiar with legendary DJ and producer, MJ Cole. ‘Crazy Love‘ and ‘Sincere‘ are two unforgettable tracks millennial clubbers and their older siblings will have fond memories of, resulting in Cole’s status as a garage artist who achieved commercial success far greater than many of his counterparts. Since then, he’s kept up a relentless touring and release schedule, most recently collaborating with AJ Tracey on ‘The Rumble‘, and dropping ‘Undo‘, featuring Alyss, on 892 Recordings.

Cole will play Romania’s Electric Castle festival in July, and ahead of that, he’s treated us to his top 10 inspirational pre-noughties tracks. You’ll find seminal club cuts from the likes of The Prodigy and Goldie, alongside a classical piece from Sergei Prokofiev, as Cole explains their significance to him at a pivotal time in his journey from record collector to fully fledged musician.

1. The Prodigy – Android

This was one of the first Prodigy records ever released. Picked my copy up from Ray Keith at City Sounds in Holborn. Source of funds used to buy it… unknown. Saw Liam play this live on a few occasions at very big raves with huge sound systems and very little attention paid to health and safety – great times.

2. Hyper On Experience – Lord Of Null Lines (Foul Play Remix)

One of my most treasured 10” vinyl records. Such smooth penetrating bass and athletic drum skills from the man like Steve Gurley. Seeing that Moving Shadow artwork spin at 45rpm still makes my day.

3. Masters of the Universe- Space Talk (1989)

My earliest record shopping took place at Groove Records in Greek Street, Soho. Music was a mishmash of hip hop, house, hardcore and techno. I love the way this record opens with solo piano, really sets the scene. People just did what they wanted to do back then. There were no rules. Have definitely taken this as inspiration to open some of my tracks. and even an album.

4. Goldie – Inner City Life

Such a seminal record. Very big musical intro. Hugely atmospheric. The Timeless album has proved to be just that. So much love for Goldie and everything he does.

5. Acen – Trip II the Moon (Part 2)

An important part of my bedroom DJ ammunition. Such great use of the sampler. I love the way this record just goes off into about five directions. No rules and no formula. So evocative of the early ’90s for me.

6. LTJ Bukem – Music

Records don’t come much simpler than this. And in the simplicity lies the greatness. It feels like movement – an icy landscape passing by with the warmth of the 808 bass beneath. Rolling, positive, magical.

7. Prokofiev – Toccata Op.11 (Martha Argerich)

The curve ball. The other side of my musical inspiration came from years of classical music – mostly long hours playing the piano. Martha Agerich is an inspiration. The force is very strong in her. A fiery pianist whose recordings reduce others by her contemporaries to piles of ash. This is vigour, passion and prowess all rolled into one.

8. DJ Randall – The R

An amazing picture disc. Very good looking vinyl. Listened to Randall’s sets usually towards the end of the night throughout the early ’90s. He always played so dark. And dark was good. Very big bass on this record. Listen to the end and you can spot the place everyone sampled THAT sound 😉

9. Tower Of Power – What Is Hip?

These guys are freaks of nature. I always return to this record. The groove is so so tight and the playing is phenomenal. I would dearly have loved to have been in the crowd for this.

10. We Are I.E. – Lennie De Ice

Takes me back to Fun City at Busby’s in Charing Cross Road. A highly inspirational record. Amen to the Amen brother.

MJ Cole plays Electric Castle, July 12-16 at Banffy Castle, Cluj, Romania. Tickets available here.

MJ Cole’s Undo remix package is out now on 892 Recordings. Grab it here.

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