Jungle legend Fabio on the greatest drum & bass tunes of all time

The master speaks... pay attention at the back

By Ben Arnold | 6 December 2023

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(Credit: Chelone Wolf)

Fabio – and, of course, his longtime wingman and fellow legend Grooverider – has been pivotal in the world of drum and bass since day one, as the scene evolved from its roots in early UK rave and hardcore to the globe-spanning genre it is today.

The duo, true godfathers of the scene, have adapted over years, from the acid house era to their hugely influential London clubnight Rage, and now perform with the Outlook Orchestra, reinterpreting breakbeat classics with classical accompaniment.

Fabio & Grooverider

They play the Manchester Academy on Saturday 13 January, so we gave Fabio the impossible task of naming the best jungle and drum & bass tunes of all time.

Easy, right? He took it in his stride to be fair…

Horizons by LTJ Bukem

“This tune comes to mind quicker than any other. It’s a special tune. I remember hearing it for the first time, and I don’t think I ever felt like that about hearing any tune for the first time. I was so blown away by it. It was emotional, beautifully produced, wonderfully arranged, the Maya Angelou sample right at the beginning. 

“The whole track makes sense. It’s all encompassing. It’s a great dance track, but a great to listen to, and it’s not aged one bit. It still sounds amazing. Every time I play it, I still get goosebumps. We do it with the orchestra too, and they’ve arranged it in a less dance-y, more ballad-like way. It sounds beautiful, man, and it goes off every single time.”

Mr Right On by Calibre 

“Even though Calibre has made millions of tunes, this one, which came out on his label Signature, is everything I love about liquid drum & bass. It’s just so simple. It’s beautiful. There’s this lovely Miles Davis sample, and it’s just effortless. It’s got a real magic to it.”

Warhead by DJ Krust

“I could pick so many tracks from Krust. But I’m going with Warhead. I could have gone with True Stories or Soul In Motion, tracks that are a little bit deeper, but Warhead doesn’t sound like anything else. You get tracks now that last two-and-a-half minutes. Warhead doesn’t even start for two-and-a-half minutes. It’s so aptly named, the bassline comes in from nowhere, and I remember the first time that I heard it, in this really sweaty club, it sounded like the end of the world. That’s what this tune sounds like; the apocalypse. It doesn’t do a lot. But it just rolls. It’s a roller. A timeless classic. Krust is a genius.”

The Angels Fell by Dillinja 

“This is Dillinja at his most grand. No one has made more bangers than Dillinja over the years, and there was a stage between 1996 going up to about 2008 where every single track he made had everyone scratching their heads like ‘how does he do it?’

“I remember he played at Fabric [in London] once with his Valve soundsystem, and he rattled tiles off the roof. They never had him back. He started with The Angels Fell too. Any track that can blow the roof off a club, that’s the right kind of tune. This is prime Dillinja, so well controlled. There’s this long dreamy intro which is hypnotic and quite haunting, and then it breaks and you know something is coming. And when that bass comes in… beautiful and brutal at the same time.”

Original Nuttah by Shy FX

“I really didn’t like Original Nuttah when it came out. I was a real ‘liquid [drum & bass]’ man, pushing the soulful side. I thought tunes like this and Incredible by General Levy were good tracks but maybe weren’t timeless tunes. About 10 years ago, someone played it, and I was like ‘that track is fucking amazing’.

“It sounds like London. London in the 90s. It’s visceral, aggressive, and then the Amen drum break comes in, and it’s the maddest Amen you’ve ever heard. It’s all over the place, but also very precise. Shy knew what he was doing.”

Inner City Life by Goldie

“[Timeless] is up there with all the great albums of the 90s. And I have an emotional attachment to Inner City Life, because my dad was actually in the video. It’s a drum & bass ballad. A story. It’s got the beautiful vocals from Diane Charlemagne, god rest her soul, and this amazing orchestral, bewildering, hypnotic intro, and even when it comes in, and comes in hard, at no stage does it feel like anything other than a beautiful song.

“There’s not been that many amazing drum & bass ‘songs’. This is as good as we’ll ever get. I know this track was very important to Goldie. It was about him growing up in the city, in the ghetto, and about being in love. It has resonance. It means something. I love throwaway tracks. But this has sentiment, it has emotion. It’s an amazing track.”

Fabio & Grooverider and the Outlook Orchestra play the Manchester Academy on Saturday 13 January, featuring appearances from Demolition Man, Jenna G, Kele Le Roq, Cleveland Watkiss and MC GQ.

Support comes from David Rodigan, DJ SS, Charlotte Devaney and Northbase. You can grab tickets here…

Fabio also plays an ‘influences’ set at EXHBTN 360 at Exhibition on 13 December.