Prince said we should party like it was 1999, and, as far as we know, he hadn’t even heard the debut album by Middlesbrough’s Space Raiders. The trio of Gary Bradford, Mark Hornby and Martin Jenkins – named after a bag of crisps and signed to Skint – were, hands down, one of my favourite bands of the late 90s.
Their delicious floorfiller ‘(I Need The) Disko Doktor’ soundtracked one of my more messy “work” trips to Ibiza, while high levels of arsing around made them a total joy live. There was much dressing up, bad dancing and waving of toy guns and light sabres as they unleashed their irresistible big beat salvoes.
I first came across them while doing the singles reviews for Melody Maker. Mary Ann Hobbes, in her Radio 1 days, was our guest reviewer and she turned up with her own pile of singles. Naturally, we ended up swapping a few – as I recall, she took my DJ Downfall ‘A Song For Kelly Le Brock’ seven-inch (an early outing on the now long-standing Where It’s At Is Where You Are label), and I bagged her copy of Space Raiders’ ‘Glam Raid’, which brilliantly sampled Kenny’s ‘The Bump’. It only missed out on being single of the week due to being released at the same time as The Beta Band’s ‘Patty Patty Sound’ EP.
There are two Raiders albums, 1999’s ‘Don’t Be Daft’ (67p on CD via Discogs, vinyl for not much more), and 2000’s ‘Hot Cakes’ (85p, CD only). Go on, break the bank. They both still get a pretty regular outing round mine.
At the time, Skint was a cut above. Fatboy Slim was king of the castle, but his runaway success opened the door for the label’s more left-field artists and Space Raiders fitted right in alongside acts such as Lo-Fidelity Allstars, Indian Ropeman, Cut La Roc, Hard Knox and Midfield General. They had that Fatboy Slim knack for an infectious groove and, on tracks like ‘Middlesboogie (U Give Me Hot Love)’, from ‘Hot Cakes’, they just locked it down and headed for the finish line.
I’ve banged on about how great Space Raiders are to anyone who’d listen and plenty who wouldn’t in various publications and websites over the years. I’ve also kept in touch with the band’s Gary Bradford as a result of being their number one fan. He set up the Space Raiders label in 2009 and released a small but perfectly formed pile of singles as well as Penny And Ashtray’s ‘Monolith And Mirrorball’ album, all of which are, of course, well worth checking out. You’ll find it all at spaceraiders.co.uk. There was also some talk of a release by the Bogely Factory, a compilation drawn from an 80s Boro cassette label if I remember correctly, and Gary tells me there’s new music afoot. Rest assured, I will be writing about all of that when it lands.