British record label, which first rose to fame in the early 90's releasing hardcore dance anthems, before moving on to release more alternative dance music. It is probably best known as the record label to which The Prodigy are signed.

The label began in 1986, thanks to Tim Palmer. He had been working for the Beggars Banquet label (generally, a more alternative rock affair), and felt that the new dance music scene would benefit from an independent label of its own. So, with the support of Beggars Banquet, he set up XL Recordings, and began to release hardcore tracks.

Many of the big hits for XL from these early days are still well known. Classics such as Liquid's 'Sweet Harmony', SL2's 'On a Ragga Tip' and The Prodigy's 'Charly' have now been released on so many compilations it's impossible to keep track.

However, what makes XL unusual is not that they were a successful label in the early '90's, but that they are still a successful and experimental label, releasing music from acts like The Avalanches and Gotan Project.

As the boundaries between rock and dance blurred in the late 90's , XL were in the perfect position to benefit, thanks to their close ties to Beggars Banquet. As Martin Mills, the founder of Beggars Banquet, explains:

"When XL started off they were really separate. If you were into dance music then you just weren't into the alternative stuff, and vice versa... We gradually found during the course of the 90s that the two things became completely compatible. Before then it was inconceivable that someone would have guitar records and dance records in the same collection. Now it's completely normal. It's the cross fertilisation of those scenes which has helped cement our position."
Nowadays, XL Recordings belongs to the Beggars Group, a collection of labels including the original Beggars Banquet, Mo' Wax, 4AD, Wiiija, Too Pure and Mantra Recordings, together with a host of smaller labels and subsidiaries (of these, Twisted Nerve has particularly close ties to XL).

Releases on the label have become increasingly varied. As well as the currently signed artists, XL has released tracks by House of Pain, The Strokes, Breakbeat Era, and Winx, along with more traditional rave tracks.

He may be biased beyond belief, but Mills gives an excellent explanation for the label's continuing success:

"What makes it exciting, and also what makes things viable and successful, is this ability to adapt. Which XL have been very good at."

Currently signed artists

The Super Furry Animals and Mull Historical Society are only signed to XL for US releases.

Sources: http://www.angelfire.com/sd/TechnoWonderland/HCHistory.html, http://www.beggars.com/history/

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