XL Recordings

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XL Recordings is an independent record label which was launched by Tim Palmer, Nick Halkes and Richard Russell with Beggars Banquet Records in 1989 to release its rave and dance music. The label has grown into one of the most commercially successful and influential independent record labels in the world.

Originally the label was an offshoot of Beggars’ more commercial dance label called Citybeat which was known for records by acts such as Freeez, Starlight, Dream Frequency and The Ultramagnetic MCs. However with the success of acts such as The Prodigy and SL2, XL superseded Citybeat in the company’s line up.

Palmer, who also owned the dance music store Groove Records on London’s Greek Street, initially employed Halkes and Russell (who as artists and DJ’s were known as Kicks Like a Mule and had a UK Top 10 hit with The Bouncer in 1992) to do A&R for the label. Russell had previously worked in the Vinylmania record store in New York’s Greenwich Village, where he had met Palmer who was visiting the store.

During the early nineties, XL Recordings releases were dance orientated ranging from Belgium techno (T99- “Anasthasia”) to Breakbeat hardcore (SL2 - “On A Ragga Tip”) to Drum and Bass (Jonny L - “I’m Leavin”). This period of XL’s history has been recorded on the XL Recordings Chapters compilation series. In 1993 Halkes left XL to form the EMI-owned commercial dance label Positiva, and subsequently his own independent commercial dance label Incentive. In 1994 Palmer left XL and retired from the music business, leaving Russell in sole charge of XL.

Russell broadened the musical horizons of the label whilst maintaining a credo of working with artists he saw as original and inventive.

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