Altern 8 is back in town for yet another legendary show with Techno & Cans. With the venue closing its doors shortly the collective are going back to back with the legendary rave icon that is Mark Archer this Friday. With that in mind, there’s no real better excuse for us to thrall through our collection of rave tapes to find the top 50 rave tracks of all time.
While of course we could just do a track list of Altern 8’s legendary Boiler Room set from Nottingham we’ve decided to actually dig deep in the crates and maybe find some of the forgotten anthems that were lost in the annals of time.
It was hard to quantify how exactly we rated each tune, but the basic parameters revolved around how legendary each track was, the rave influences it held and how good each one would sound in a warehouse at 2.50am with your hands loosely aimed towards the ceiling. If you can figure out how to scroll and press play on each one with your arms in the sky then this list should make for ample viewing and listening.
50. Sonz Of a Loop Da Loop Era – Far Out
A solid number to kick off with and somewhat a blank canvas when it comes to raw rave tracks.
49. Leftfield – Phat Planet
A staple big beat track from one of the legends of the post rave era.
48. Cybersonik – Technarchy
The first of many tracks from Altern 8’s Boiler Room that makes the list and a well deserved dance floor driven banger.
47. Soul Central – Strings Of Life
This one doesn’t rank as highly as we expected due to its reliance on the piano rather than the ravey synth that drops in and out, but a solid rave banger at that.
46. Speedy J – Something For Your Mind
Given that Altern 8 is going back to back with Techno & Cans we made sure to include some tracks that hinge a little more so on the techno side of things rather than strictly break beat rave.
45. Origin Unknown – Valley of Shadows
Despite being a Drum n’Bass classic, the place of jungle and dn’b is a little overlooked in terms of the formation of Rave and Hardcore, given the importance of breaks in the iconic sound. The use of samples and acid here and there make it a transcendent rave classic.
44. Bryan Zentz – D Clash
That synth just screams cheesy rave despite the pulsating kicks throughout.
43. Second Phase – Mentasm
Easy choice really, the synth does all the talking.
42. New Atlantic – I Know
Proper tear off pants, bleach your hair in the bathroom music.
41. The Prodigy – Full Throttle
The first of many Prodigy tunes and a great crossover track in terms of the Altern 8 X Techno & Cans link.
40. Channel X – Rave The Rhythm
Massive techno kicks alongside a classic rave synth that shows the darker sound of an era renowned for positive vibes.
39. Tony De Vit – The Dawn
This wouldn’t make sense without hard house. Sorry.
38. SL2 – On a Ragga Tip
The first of many that make you go, ‘Oh I know that one!’
37. Sharpside – Space Cruising
Crunchy 90s techno equipped with orgasm samples because of course it is.
36. Ignition Technician – Throw Your Hands
As the song suggests, hands in the air for this one. Comically raw synths are reinforced by a unapologetic kick drums.
35. Human Resource – Dominator
The remix credits on this are enough to know it’s deserving of a place on the list. That synth and rap sample combo make sure it keeps its place.
34. Olive – You’re Not Alone
We weren’t sure whether to include this or not, but it got in on ‘One more tune’ factor, along with its underrated breakbeat element that really channels the raw rave sound of the 90s.
33. The Future Sound Of London – Papa New Guinea
While the mash up with Dax J managed to push this one into techno circles this is most definitely an iconic rave banger.
32. Kicks Like a Mule – The Bouncer
No need to explain this one. Press play.
31. N-Joi – Anthem
N-Joi are one of the biggest acts to emerge from the rave era and this is arguably their biggest track. It doesn’t rank as highly as expected as the keys seems a tad more suitable for daytime TV than peak time warehouse.
30. Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
We had a tricky time including this one, similar to ‘You’re Not Alone’ however its defining breakbeat gets it over the line, as well as the fact that it’s one of the most important dance music tracks ever.
29. Bizarre Inc. – Playing With Knives
Not going to lie, I hit the high note in this out loud when it came on in the office.
28. Subliminal Cuts – Le Voie Le Soleil
Piano. Kicks. Breaks and an overzealous filter.
27. The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode
The sneaky allusion to ecstasy that seen this track go as far as radio is a signature of the tongue in cheek nature of the music and we’d be stupid to leave it off.
26. Daft Punk – Rollin’ and Scratchin’
An unmistakably hefty techno number but this got in on peak time warehouse factor. The distortion doesn’t necessarily scream bleached hair and breakbeat dancing but it swings us right back to bodies mindlessly pumping to dance music.
25. The Prodigy – Charly
24. Awesome 3 – Don’t Go
High pitch vocals and more piano. Give the people what they want!
23. T99 – Anasthasia
The synths in this are a little more sinister and bump the track up the list past some of the more predictable tracks. Perc and Truss’ jaw dropping edit also shows the track’s effectiveness in a modern setting too.
22. Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness
No question a seriously important track when it comes to the grand scheme of things and one with an A+ score in the hands in the air category.
21. Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy
Another big radio hit that makes the list but an easy inclusion at that. The seamless marriage of dreamy keys, breaks and catchy vocals had this destined to be a huge hit. Not to mention the crowd noises too, because a track isn’t really a rave anthem without crowd noises is it?
20. Moby – Go
A Moby track had to be in here somewhere and we went with ‘Go’, maybe because Archer smashes it out in his Boiler Room or maybe because it’s one of the biggest dance music tracks of all time, you’ll never know.
19. Aphex Twin – Polynomial C
Similar to Moby, we had to include some Aphex in here somewhere, and nothing beats his work on R&S in terms of rave and techno. Polynomial C is one of those euphoric tracks that also carries the misty elements that are only found on Aphex records.
18. The Prodigy – Wind It Up
Another hyperspeed offering from the Prodigy and one that is destined to send any venue into utter chaos the minute it comes through the speakers.
17. Quadrophonia – Quadrophonia
The organ in this is fit for a cathedral anywhere across the globe and then the break beats and horns come in making it an unmistakable dance floor filler.
16. LFO – LFO (Leeds Warehouse Mix)
Warp is a genre defying label and like many others on the list it was instrumental in shaping the current sound of electronic music, with LFO being one of the leading lights in their pursuit.
15. The Prodigy – Everybody in the Place (Fairground Mix)
Choosing this or the 155 and Rising version proved to be the toughest decision of the lot but we think the big beat version wins out, at least because of the video.
14. CJ Bolland – The Prophet
The definitive closing track from one of the original purveyors of rave.
13. Mix Factory – Take Me Away (XTC Come Hard Mix)
‘XTC Come Hard Mix’ is enough to show that this needs a spot high up on the list.
12. Altern 8 – E-Vapor-8
The first Altern 8 track on the list just about misses the top 10 but with more to come their omission is not in vein.
11. 808 State – Pacific State
A more relaxed number to ease into the top ten but again another classic and massive track due to their pioneering use of instrumentation, all bundled together by huge breaks.
10. Liquid – Sweet Harmony
The minute the piano kicks in on this track it’s almost as if everything in life makes sense. Couple that with the undeniable vocals and you have yourself one of the most easily recognisable tunes of all time.
9. Praga Khan – Injected With A Poison
We wondered whether this one was too cringeworthy or not to include it, but once we hear that ‘INJECTED WITH A POISON’ sample it’s too good to omit.
8. Outlander – Vamp
Needs no description, arguably the most iconic stabs ever.
7. CJ Bolland – Camargue
Bolland’s final appearance on the list but easily his best contribution to electronic music.
6. Jaydee – Plastic Dreams
A more chilled marriage of organs with breaks and like the vast number of tracks on the list, is a pretty important track in the grand scheme of things.
5. Joey Beltram – Energy Flash
The minute a classics night is announced in any club anywhere, you can guarantee the DJs are itching to get this one out of their system. There’s something about the track that allows it to truck along within any set but also allows it to stick out so much on its own that is totally unique.
4. 2 Bad Mice – Bombscare
The sounds on this track most definitely come across as cheap to the modern listener, but this really embodies the ethos of the rave era; intuitive sounds to put smiles on people’s faces.
3. Altern 8 – Frequency
Watch Mark Archer drop this in his Boiler Room and immediately silence any inner questions you had about this track’s placement on the list.
2. The Prodigy – Out Of Space
The Prodigy’s last hurrah on our definitive rave collection, but most definitely their best track. The reggae infusion alongside everything from big beat and hardcore makes this one of the most frantic and best peak time tracks ever.
1. Underworld – Born Slippy
The unmistakable theme song from ‘Trainspotting’, the film that incorporates the rave era the most, and without a doubt one of the most timeless pieces of music in existence, this was an easy choice for number one.
LAGER LAGER LAGER.
Techno & Cans and Altern 8 go back to back as part of Hangar’s closing series of parties, you can join their Facebook event here.