Our Top 10 Essential Mixes
A BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix can be a real defining moment in the life of a DJ. Since its inception back in 1993 the Essential mix has gone on to become a significant part of electronic music culture, gaining prestige on an international level and attracting a real diverse range of selectors from all over the globe – it’s fair to say that it’s become the home of showcasing the biggest names in all of electronic dance music.
We’ve always had a soft spot for the Essential Mix, and I think the same applies for most people with a slight interest in dance music. For us, we grew up listening to the show and our passion for electronic music stems from those first moments as a 15 year old tuning into Radio 1 on a Saturday night and wondering who was on. There was always a sense of it being really personal; you were either tuned in or you weren’t, and those that were experienced something special which added to the whole excitement of discovering new sounds. Weekend after weekend a cross section of the top names in dance music heeded the call of Pete Tong and took to the global stage for two uninterrupted hours.
The show’s success is down to creator and producer, Eddie Gordon. After months of constantly receiving weekly mix shows on tape-cassette, featuring New York DJs Tony Humphries and the late Frankie Knuckles, Eddie advised Radio 1 that a weekly dance-mix show with DJs from different genres would offer more variety and the chance for the ever growing UK dance music scene to flourish; how right he was. Eddie further encouraged the DJs he scheduled to flex their musical knowledge as the broadcast was essentially playing to people listening in their homes and not to a dance floor, allowing artists the chance to offer something more unique and personal from their usual sets.
Minus a few notable absentees the Essential mix offers a long list of who’s’ who in dance music. Everybody has their own favourite Essential Mixes and mixes they always revert back to. As a nod to the importance of the show, and as a chance to highlight some of our favourite shows, we’ve put together our 10 essentials – 10 essential essentials, if you like, that have altered our thinking when it comes to a mix, showed us something new, something different and stayed true to the ethos and spirit of the Radio 1 Essential Mix.
December 11, 1994 | Massive Attack
After the truly unique release of Protection earlier in 94′ – building on one of the most important albums of our generation, Blue Lines in 91′ – Massive Attack took to the Essential Mix to demonstrate some of their musical influences, making it a more personal insight into the sounds that have helped shape them as artists.
August 27, 1995 | Norman Jay
Commonly attributed to coining the phrase ‘rare groove’, Norman Jay’s brings some solid house tracks for his second Essential Mix in 95 – a Notting Hill Carnival special – showcasing his diverse and deep musical knowledge and, above all, his ear for a rare groove.
October 1, 1995 | Carl Craig
Detroiter Carl Craig doing what he does best back in 1995, throwing out some deep melodic techno and demonstrating how much of an electronic music pioneer he is.
July 12, 1997 | Dimitri from Paris
Dimitri from Paris’ influences are rooted in 70s funk and disco that spawned contemporary house music, and that influence translates perfectly in his Essential Mix in 1997.
December 21, 1997 | Gilles Peterson
One of the best selectors and one of the most trusted tastemakers of our generation – this is up there with the most eclectic and diverse offerings of the Essential Mixes covering music from all over, both old and new.
December 30, 1997 | Daft Punk
This still sounds as fresh as it did 15 years ago – ruthless mix here from the French duo, impeccably meandering through much of their own material with some other French electro goodies thrown in between.
April 18, 1999 | Todd Terry
Todd Terry showing his diversity as a DJ with an hour of house and an hour of Drum’n’Bass, epitomising his stylistic prowess and musical finesse behind the 1s and 2s.
Pt.2 – The Drum’N’Bass Mix
March 12, 2000 | MJ Cole
The epitome of a genre-specific Essential Mix. Right at the peak of the UK Garage movement, Cole’s mix was a perfect scene showcase.
November 29, 2008 | Flying Lotus
An important step towards Flying Lotus’ emergence as a global force to be reckoned with. Won the Essential Mix of the year award in 2008.
January 17, 2009 | Greg Wilson
The legendary Greg Wilson is one of the most prolific DJs out there, and his edits and mixes continue to feature on the playlists of DJ’s worldwide. This mix is an exemplary reminder of both his adroit skills as a DJ and of his flawless track selection.
You can listen to all of our top Essential Mixes below: