Friday, 17 June 2011

Ray Keith History by Semtek

This afternoon Semtek took us to school with a history of rave / d'n'b legend Ray Keith.
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Gonna kick off my little Ray Keith history shortly with chapter 1.

Colchester born, Ray Keith started DJing at the ripe age of 12. At that time it was Soul and
Rare Groove that spun on the Essex circuit.

Party-goers were demanding artists like Lonnie Liston Smith and Keith Sweat

...and the productions of Jody Sims, like this Switch masterpiece - Am I Still Your Boyfriend

Simultaneously, so this is the mid-80's, OMD, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran being requested. Like this from 1985

The sound of soul, rare groove and boogie, and the gothic / industrial sound to me are both equally important to Ray Keith's sound.

By the late 80's Keith was working at City Sounds in Farringdon, round the corner from what would become Turnmills.

Google Maps

By the late 80's the electronic sounds of the US were being adopted by UK DJs and artists, not least Mel & Kim

Even Stock Aitken and Waterman played a role in the development of young Ray, especially this number from 1987 Roadblock

Of course, in 1989 one 12" would change everything for DJs both in the US and the UK.

By 1990 Ray Keith was an important player on the hardcore / breakbeat circuit, and a regular DJ at Raindance.

The parties would happen in the further reaches of London, places like Jenkins Lane:

1990 was the golden age of Acid House. Influenced by this Keith took on his first remix. Orbital's Chime:

By 1991 Keith had already abandoned the house sound for the hcore breakbeat groove. This samples Manix ' Feel Real Good'

By 92 you hear already some of the trademark RK sounds in this. Blame sampled the same Seal track for 'Music Takes You.'

Keith's first major success came when he teamed up with Nookie, who would go on to engineer many of his tracks, in 1993

What became his best known track, under the Renegade alias, which hit shelves in 1994. Terrorist

Terrorist was made by Keith and engineered by Nookie in 4 hours. It is still one of the best known tracks of the past 20 years.

Keith talks openly in interviews about how he came to Reggae and Dub later than many people think, around thi1993 / 1994.

In 1995 he started experimenting with the Ragga samples, to devastating effect, with this on Bryan G's Chronic imprint

And it was also in 1995 that he established the imprint that would go on to provide a home for the majority of his releases, Dread.

The first release on Dread, Yes Yes, sold out within days.

1995 was also the year Keith first started using Lemon D as an engineer, on this Pink Floyd sampling bomb.

Sing Time was recorded as Terrorist, an alias he adopted for much of the work with Lemon D.

Like 95, 96 saw nothing but hits from Keith. This appeared as London's Most Wanted on Chronic, sampling House Of Pain.

And then another outing as Renegade on Dread, which produced Dark Soldier, another anthem, bassline!

1996 was the year of the Tech Step sound, and, noting this, Keith inaugurated Penny Black with this from Twisted Anger:

Most of all though, 1996 was the year of Chopper. Of course Shy FX's remix was the hit. But the orig is 1 for the heads

1998 onwards. This was the year Keith elected to record on Dread under his own name for the first time:

Blackmarket records, where he worked at the time, was the hub of the drum'n'bass scene and it formed the ideal outlet for Dread and Penny B.

1998 was also the year he made his V Recordings debut with this banger. 'Do It'

In a similarly hard style he also remixed Mask (Roni Size) and Swabe (Die) on Dope Dragon

For me the final chapter in the story is really 2000 when he started UFO recordings to release "Something Out There".

The vocal was recorded when by chance he heard Leah singing in a neighbouring Brick Lane studio (one in the Truman Brewery to be precise).

I remember seeing him play in Bedford to a crowd of no more than 10 people in 2000, but he still put on a show.

Listening through the way his productions and DJing changed over the years you realise he was always in it to please the crowd.

Never can you accuse him of a shoegazing moment, always a professional, always giving 100% to support the scene and the ravers.

Ray Keith: big up. Don.

Leaving you with one of his lesser known but equally rolling moments. Have a good weekend each and everyone!

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