Wrong speed records are a weird one. When you think about the amount of time, thought and effort that goes into perfecting a tune the idea that you can just randomly change its speed and the result sound as good (or sometimes even better) than the original makes no sense at all. But when it happens it always feels pretty magical, partly because 99% of the time records played at the wrong speed sound totally rubbish and partly because it’s rarely an intentional thing - I doubt there’s anyone out there who hasn’t accidentally played a 45 record at 33 (or vice versa) at some point.
To celebrate this weird and wonderful phenomena I’ve selected 10 wrong speed bangers that fit this rare and coveted niche. Some of them are things I’ve stumbled upon myself whilst others are well established DJ trademarks, which in some cases have even gone onto give birth to entirely new musical genres. So take a deep breath, hold onto your pitch controls and let’s head full speed into the wrong speed cosmos...
Grauzone - “Film 2” 12” played at 33rpm
Maybe one of the most famous and earliest examples of the wrong speed banger was this discovery made famous by the godfather of cosmic disco DJ Daniele Baldelli as featured in his 1982 Cosmic C75 mixtape. Slowed down to 33rpm the original takes on a completely new lease of life as a chugging proto dub techno masterpiece.
Froid Dub - “Shotgun Dub” 12” played at 45rpm
This was one I discovered myself as a result of incorrectly assuming this record played at 45rpm when I first bought it which led me to discover that the opening track actually sounds pretty good pitched up at the wrong speed, taking it on a more dancefloor focused post-punk, disco-not-disco direction. Judging by the fact that someone else has already uploaded it to YouTube in this format suggests I wasn’t the only one to make this happy mistake...
Ernest Ranglin & Count Ossie - "Earth Sound" 10” at 33rpm
I think I discovered this one after reading a comment on Discogs that suggested playing it at 33 rather than the intended 45. So I gave it a go and I have to say it sounds pretty nice at the slower speed, taking the whole thing in much more laid back jazz direction which Ernest Ranglin’s exemplary guitar playing lends itself to perfectly.
Masters At Work - “Justa 'Lil' Dope” 12” at 45rpm
This is another well documented and legendary wrong speeder made famous by Fabio and pals at pioneering clubs like Rage where, thanks to it’s combination of breakbeats and reggae samples, it played a crucial role in the evolution of the then newly emerging sound of jungle.
Motion Graphics - “Brass Mechanics” 7” at 33rpm
I discovered this one when I was actually looking for a YouTube video of the original 7” version and saw someone has posted it up being played at a slowed down 33pm. And I have to say very lovely it sounds too, heading into full on blissed out ambient jazz territory.
Joe Ariwa - “King Moses” 7” at 33rpm
Hats off to Gatto Fritto who brought this one to the attention of myself and many others by including it (in its wrong speed format) in his excellent first entry in Test Pressing’s very own Sound of Love International series of comps. Pitched down to 33 rpm the original stepper turns into a funky snaking dubwise groover.
Gramme - “Mine (instrumental)” 7” at 33rpm +8
I found this one actually worked best played at 33rpm but then speed up a bit again to +8 on the pitch control which overall slows it down just enough to bring out its maximum post-punk funky dubby goodness, turning it into an ESG-style secret weapon for the more adventurous dancefloor.
DJ Bigfoot - “Number 7” 10” payed at 33rpm
I’ve got Swedish vinyl connoisseur Farsta Kalle to thank for highlighting this one in the excellent guest mix he put together for the North Of The River Swan radio show last year. After hearing it at 33 and I couldn’t actually believe it was originally meant to be played at 45. The 33 version is the hands down winner for me transforming it into a lovely bit of deep ambient dub
Babylon Timewarp - “Durban Poison” 12” played at 33rpm
It feels like lots of jungle and hardcore records should work pitched down at 33 but it’s actually quite difficult to find ones that work at slower speeds for longer than a few seconds. I think this one bucks that trend largely because it’s built around a lots of reggae and dub samples and also because the vocal snippets, in true hardcore style, have been speed up chipmunk style in the original so still sound OK pitched down. The result is an epic dubwise trip-hop/breakbeat soundscape that stretches out over seven and a half minutes.
The Aggrovators - “Late Night Dubplate” 7” played at +8
I have copies of this one at the moment in the Dubwise Vinyl shop. I really love the original which is a proper slow and deadly dub but it also sounds great speeded up a bit with the pitch control at +8 which moves it away from a more traditional slower Jamaican dub sound into the more uptempo realm of UK steppers.