If you’ve never heard this DJ mix before, Coldcut’s 70 Minutes of Madness is an absolute landmark for DJ mixes and just a joy to listen to. (audio)
If there is one singular influence on my DJing that I could point to, it would be this mix. Sure, Brainfreeze by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist got me into funk and collecting breakbeats (an excellent mix for sure). And Peanut Butter Wolf’s Bass Your Car… (sorry no audio) also displayed a sort of eclecticism that I always strive for. But Coldcut’s 70 Minutes Of Madness is that Peanut Butter Wolf mix on steroids. Simply put, this mix made me want to play everything! And to think this came out twenty years ago.
What’s amazing to me about this mix is how for its age, it still sounds remarkably undated. It’s seamless mixed and edited together, (some computers were used in the making of this mix, which considering it came out in 1995, still makes it incredible if you can remember computers from back then) the selection is on point, and it’s incredibly unpredictable; running from jungle in the opening moments to breakbeats and house/techno later on, to spoken word (the Jello Biafra one near the end being a particular highlight) and hip-hop before finishing with some downbeat and the Doctor Who theme. Now all this sounds great in theory and indeed, it is, but another aspect of it that makes it so next-level are the little moments that are littered throughout the mix; the scratching, the inclusion of little samples and vocal stabs, and one amazing pitch down mix that to this day I’m still trying to figure out how it was done so seamlessly (listen to the mix and you’ll hear it). There is simply no dull moments on the mix period.
Another reason find this mix so fascinating, especially now, is that it’s such a unique snapshot of music and DJing, and in 2016, a mix like this will probably never be made again. Let me put it to you this way: by 1995, house/techno music was still very much underground, jungle/drum n’ bass was still in its prime, and hip-hop was just leaving its “golden age” (“depends who you ask”, I hear someone shouting). But the main point I’m going for here is that this a period of music that will likely never happen again. All these genres were largely in their infancies at the time (again, hip-hop arguably not) and are basically all presented here in their purest form.
Basically at the end of the day, if anyone asked what DJ mix they should listen to, I would immediately point them in the direction of this. No mix covers as many genres so seamlessly, gives you an idea of what electronic and dance music were like back in the mid-90’s, and largely school mixes of today like this one does. In an era of music were there’s such an abundance of music to go around, few seem to try to bridge the gap between those genres (I’m sure there’s a few mixes out there that do, however. Please prove me wrong in the comment section with some of your favorite genre-bending mixes) like this one did. I try to do it as much as I can in my mixes, but lack the technical ability of these masters. Which is why when ever I need a jolt of inspiration, I always come back to this.
If you’ve never heard this mix, you really need to check this out. Also make sure you check out the Coldcut/Ninja Tune-curated DJ mix radio show, Solid Steel to hear the spirit of this mix kept alive on a weekly basis.
One last thing: let’s a get a discussion going! What are some of your favorite DJ mixes? What DJs do you think smashed the walls between music? Let me know in the comments!