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Adam F – Circles (the one that got away)

 

One of the things I was always conscious of when writing Who Say Reload was that with a few exceptions, these tunes that were massive in the rave scene back in the day had no real impact on the mainstream at the time. Even back then I found it strange that while all the kids on the council estate where I lived knew Valley of The Shadows or Renegade Snares, barely anyone in my year group at college had a clue. Most of them were listening to indie/brit pop type stuff, with a few hip-hop fans; this was the era of Cypress Hill, Snoop Dogg and Onyx. There was something of a class divide in music to begin with, and people were definitely more tribal in their tastes in the pre-iTunes era. Investing financially in your genre of choice perhaps meant you felt more of an allegiance to it, and you could often tell who was into indie, metal, rave or hip hop just by looking at what they were wearing.

Within a couple of years that generation would be of an age where they were earning a bit of money and started clubbing or going off university and being exposed to more than Radio 1 and MTV. Around the same time, Goldie had released Timeless and Reprazent scooped the Mercury Prize with New Forms. Both albums are very significant in the D&B story in terms of introducing the music to a wider audience and putting major labels on notice that this was credible music with an array of talented artists they could sign up. One such artist that found a major label waving their chequebook at him was Adam F, who having dropped some well received 12”s in 1993 and 1994, then came up with one of the biggest tunes of the year with Circles in 1995. It’s an amazing track and one that works just as well as a standalone piece of music as it does in a DJ’s mix, which is quite a feat and not as common as you might think. It was played out everywhere but it’s also one of those tracks that people who say they don’t like D&B would enjoy. The kind of crowd that could appreciate New Forms or a Progressions Sessions CD but probably wouldn’t be throwing up gun fingers during a Kenny Ken set at Stratford Rex.

I know I’m not alone in having Circles in my all-time top 5 D&B tunes so I was gutted not to get Adam on board for an interview in the book. It nearly happened, but then it didn’t. He has an interesting career, starting off on Lucky Spin and Section 5, releasing the monstrous Metropolis on Metalheadz, Brand New Funk on V Recordings and his Colours LP on Positiva/EMI. The well received hip hop album KAOS followed, with some big D&B remixes and then there was the Breakbeat Kaos label with DJ Fresh that helped launch Pendulum and Chase & Status. So that would have been good to get into.

 

 

The distinctive sample at the start of Circles is taken from Bob James’ Westchester Lady, which I was already familiar with as Jazzy Jeff had used it on A Touch of Jazz back in 1987, so that was what initially drew me in, but the addictive warm bassline and the way track shifts and builds over eight and a half minutes makes for an epic journey. It never gets dull and is pretty much flawless in my opinion.

It was originally released on Section 5, which was the label affiliated with a record shop of the same name co-owned by Rob Playford. I can only speculate that sample clearance prevented it getting a deserved high-profile release on Moving Shadow. Positiva signed Adam and re-released it in the autumn of 1997 with new remixes by no less than Andy C and Roni Size, alongside the original version, which gave it a new lease of life and it managed to get to number 20 in the national charts. The new remixes were good – as is the slightly more DJ friendly remix that Section 5 issued as a limited edition one-sided 12” in 1996 – but the original remains the definitive version. A timeless classic. Maybe it will be in Volume 2…