Artful Dodger changed the game: they represented a turning point in how UKG was perceived around the UK.
The moniker has encompassed a few DJ’s over the years, but no matter who’s standing at the turntable, Artful Dodger guarantee good times and infectious beats. Here we’ll take a look back at some of the most important moments in the history of the group.
1. That first chance encounter...
Let’s face it, there aren’t too many iconic musicians from Southampton. Perhaps unfairly, the city has always been something of an afterthought on the UK culture scene. But it’s Southampton that lies at the very heart of Artful Dodger’s story. Not only was it the setting for their meeting with Craig David (more on that to come), but the city’s music crowd was what caused Mark Hill and Pete Devereux to meet in the first place. Devereux was making a name for himself on the Dance scene, whilst Hill was a music student trying to run a studio and playing drums in a succession of bands, when one day Devereux walked through the door of his studio, looking to lay down a track.
2. Launching Craig David’s career
Craig David’s history is pretty inseparable from Dodger’s. He was still well into his teens when he first met Artful Dodger, at a youth event run by his beloved Southampton Football Club. Artful Dodger recognised immediately that this kid was going places, and took it upon themselves to propel him there; David sang on ‘Re-Rewind’ and both artists were catapulted to stardom. This in turn led to Mark Hill producing David’s debut album, which went on to become the fastest-selling debut ever released by a male British act.
You don’t really need us to tell you about ‘Re-Rewind’ – it’s a 2-Step Garage classic in every sense, and even spawned one of the noughties’ most irritating shows. I suppose you have to take the bad with the good though.
3. Going Platinum
Dodger’s debut album – ‘It’s All About the Stragglers’ – went Platinum in the UK, and gained an almost impossibly enthusiastic following among Garage aficionados. It’s not hard to see why: the album is littered with classic tracks, from ‘Re-Rewind’ to ‘Woman Trouble’, and its crossover appeal is undeniable. Every track had the great vocal talent to compliment Dodger’s song-weaving skills, and what emerged took the UK music scene by storm.
4. Movin Too Fast
Speaking of ‘It’s All About the Stragglers’, here’s one of the defining tracks of that album. Movin Too Fast was absolutely huge; it spent 14 weeks on the charts, was on the radio pretty much constantly in the summer of 2000, and even featured heavily in Bridget Jones’ Diary for christ’s sakes. We at Backto95 are still incredibly fond of the track, and grateful for all the moments it gave us: not least the mental image of Renée Zellweger listening to UKG...
5. Touring resurgence
If there’s anything we have the re-found popularity of Garage to thank for, it’s the opportunity it’s given us to see all those classic acts up on stage again, spinning the tracks many of us grew up to. We’re always struck by how fresh UKG feels after all these years. Maybe this has quite a lot to do with how anodyne so much of British music became in the noughties, but it’s also undeniable how technically impressive and exciting UKG really was – and Artful Dodger were a massive part of that. We can’t wait to see them again in a few weeks!