An unruly, distinctly British take on four-to-the-floor US house and garage, the sound took swinging house beats and added to them time-stretched vocals, enormous basslines and gunshots – an echo of the demented, futuristic energy of drum’n’bass. It began as an after-hours scene, but in 1997 speed garage went overground. Double 99’s Ripgroove – perhaps the first UK garage tune – entered the charts at No 14, and in its wake followed a wave of domestic bass rollers. From the roughshod underground vibe of G.O.D’s Watch Your Bassbins to 187 Lockdown’s Gunman – which sampled Ennio Morricone’s score from the Sergio Leone spaghetti western A Few Dollars More and took it into the UK Top 20 – speed garage sounded raw, rude and new.
Then, like so many other UK dance movements, it appeared to burn itself out. As 2-step blew up, getting the ladies locked on with its sweet feminine pressure, speed garage gradually became associated with a certain suburban milieu: low suspension cars, skunk-infused teenage bedrooms, Fubu tracksuits, Ali G.
But did speed garage really die? Bristol’s Dan Pearce, aka Eats Everything, reckons otherwise. No stranger to dropping gunshots throughout his tracks, Pearce is a fan of the original speed garage sound and reckons the genre hasn’t so much died as shape-shifted.