SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND: Jeff Mills – Live At The Liquid Room – Tokyo [1996]

If you are looking for evidence that Jeff Mills has long been one of the most technically-proficient names in techno, the Detroit native’s 1996 mix album, Live at the Liquid Room – Tokyo, is a good place to start.

I remember being handed this mix on an unlabelled tape (the horror!) around 20 years ago, and not realising what it was: as a relative latecomer to MP3 players, and having shunned Minidiscs altogether, it was only at a house part a few years later that I discovered its creator, the man known in DJ circles as The Wizard.

As if it could be the work of anyone else…

What’s great about listening back to it now is the ‘human’ element – some of the mixes go slightly awry, and you can hear the vinyl crackling as he pushes the record to change the tempo. In this era of overly-polished production, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Divided into three ‘segments’, the mix CD, released on React, includes some of the most blistering techno tunes from the early to mid 90s, including cuts from DJ Funk (Work That Body and Run), Surgeon (Magneze and Move), Derrick May’s seminal Strings of Life, and a smattering of Mills’ own tracks.

In fact the entire third segment of this mix is comprised entirely of Mills own work, as the shuffling Casa breaks into Life Cycle and then Step To Enchantment.

The highlight? The moment at the 11-minute mark when The Bells segues into Work That Body is pretty goddamn special.

[Kudos to ElectroBassDub3 for the upload]

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Patrick Cowley – Menergy (1981)

For this week’s Throwback Thursday we go right back to 1981, and one of the tracks that symbolised the morphing of disco into Hi-NRG, a genre that continues to influence dance music today.

In the late 1970s, producer Patrick Cowley‘s work on Sylvester’s Step II album (as well as an epic 15 minute megamix of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love) gave the young San Francisco producer a pedestal from which to launch a solo career.

In 1981, Cowley released the Menergy EP on Fusion Records, with its title track still one of the most influential of the short-lived Hi-NRG wave.

Opening with Vangelis-style lushness, the track descends into a pulsing electro riff that sounds straight off Daft Punk’s latest album – one can only imagine what it sounded like at the Paradise Garage, or similar timeless venues of the era.

The drop at 4:04 is pretty special too. 🙂

[Edit: for those of us that went clubbing in the late 90s, if you think the riff sounds familiar, you’d be right, it’s the main riff from Saints and Sinners’ Pushin Too Hard, released in 1999]

Sadly, Cowley never got the opportunity to build on the success of Menergy, and the well-received Megatron Man album that followed; in November 1982, he died at the age of 32, an early victim of the then-relatively unknown AIDS virus. His music, however, lives on…

[Kudos to Milentije Kindlovski for the video upload, picture source Wikimedia Commons]

Richie Hawtin on his origins… and overpaid DJs [September 1994]

Richie Hawtin has been at the forefront of techno for more than 25 years, and in September 1994, when recording his Musik album (under his Plastikman guise), he gave the following interview to The Guardian‘s Ben Turner, on being inspired by Derrick May, his all-time favourite record, and, interestingly, the fees paid to DJs in the mid 90s…

How did you break into DJ-ing?
I started spinning at small clubs in Windsor, Canada, when I was only 17 and then slowly worked my way into a small club in Detroit called The Shelter.

Who/what was the inspiration?
Living so close to Detroit and being able to go to the clubs and see this new music happening in 1987 and 1988. People like Derrick May were spinning and making music on my doorstep, and being able to speak to him and others was a great inspiration. I guess he was the one person who inspired me.

What do you think of the extortionate prices certain DJs are commanding for two-hour sets in the UK?
I think they’re taking the piss. People like me who make music on the underground circuit rely on DJ-ing as a large part of our income. However, there is a threshold you should meet. If you are playing a party in front of 30,000 people, you deserve to earn larger amounts of money because you are bringing in the people, but there are certain DJs who expect this money from every date they play. Once in a while, I’ll do something big, the rest of the time I’ll play smaller places, which is also where you have the most fun.

What are your favourite clubs?
Hard (Detroit), Lost (London), Pure (Edinburgh), Das Boot (Nuremberg), Voodoo (Liverpool).

What is your all-time club classic?
Bobby Konders: Nervous Acid.

Which record would you most like to remix?
Katana: Erotmania. For the simple reason that I think the recent remixes failed to do the job properly. I would love to work with Klaus Schulze, an early member of Tangerine Dream.

What projects are you working on now?
I’m recording a new FUSE album and a Plastikman album called Musik. I am spinning at my next two parties in Detroit, called Jak 1 and Jak 2, and am planning another called Return To The Lodge. I am also looking for a venue to host the first ever Plastikman live performance in the UK.

How do you relax?
I don’t.

Where do you buy your records?
Mostly from Fat Cat (London) and Record Time (Detroit).

Where do you see yourself going musically?
Weirder and crazier.

[Copyright Guardian Newspapers, Limited Sep 30, 1994]

The great Haçienda sell off… [November 2000]

This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but a whimper…

So it was on November 25, 2000, as literally… well, dozens of former DJs and club kids assembled at the stripped-clean Haçienda nightclub in Manchester to purchase a piece of nightclub history…

What should, perhaps, have been one of the music auctions of the decade was, instead a limp affair, with the most sought-after items being bricks and pieces of dismantled dancefloor, available for £5 each.

As Mixmag’s Conrad Murray reported at the time, “despite the initial buzz in the building, the auction is a non-event. Like the reading of the will of an aunt you once adored but who quickly faded from memory, no-one seems over anxious to gather up the old belongings.”

The item that made the most money, the article claims, was a painting, discovered in three pieces in a partition behind the ladies toilets, and reportedly painted by the wife of former resident Mike Pickering, which sold for £3,200.

The rest of the lots attracted fairly humdrum interest, despite their legendary role in shaping Manchester (and UK) music history…

– Acid-green corner seats where Bez and Shaun Ryder held court: £170
– No. 21 Albion Street sign: £260
– Hazard-strip stage facade: £110
– DJ Booth: £1,100 (with bidding starting at £1,000)

Within weeks of the auction, work was underway to turn the site into apartments, which they remain to this day.

The last word should go to Peter Hook of New Order, who was present at the auction to pick up a piece of concrete with ‘Tony (Wilson) 94’ written on it. Should the Haçienda have been saved?

“It had to go. If they turned it into another club, it would have been like seeing your girlfriend with someone else.”

Why taping Radio 1’s Essential Mix back in the mid-90s was a whole lot easier than trying to stream it online…

Having started broadcasting in October 1993, BBC’s Essential Mix has been the benchmark-setter for dance music radio for close to a quarter of a century, with its helmsman Pete Tong showing no signs of stopping just yet…

During the 90s and early 2000s, it was de rigeur to get the C90 ready and set the timer on the hi-fi to tape each week’s mix (nine times out of ten, you would be on a night out when it was broadcast), and Mixmag used to print handy tape inserts in each month’s issue to ensure your collection was labelled appropriately.

But for those more technologically minded, the Internet (then very much in its formative years) offered the opportunity to access the previous week’s mix, albeit at a shockingly low bitrate, given the capacity of dial up modems back then.

But even then, things weren’t all that simple, as this Mixmag article from a couple of years back indicates, which featured a snippet of Pete Tong back in 1995.

In the days before Google, accessing that week’s mix took a lot of patience, and a smattering of ‘forward slashes’…

That’s enough to give anyone a headache…

[Kudos to Essential Mix‘s Facebook page for the video]

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND: Danny Tenaglia, Global Underground 017: London, CD2 [September 2000]

Music is like a time machine. Some chord progression or random melody can transport you back to a certain place and time in your life: the people you were with, the moments you shared…

If it sounds like I’m getting all sentimental, well maybe I am. CD2 of Global Underground 017 is one of those mixes that will live long in the memory, despite a few brain cells having been knocked off in the years since I first heard it.

Also, given that this weekend marks a milestone birthday for a dear friend, it wouldn’t be right to share anything else.

Recorded in 2000, the mix is a retrospective of a set Danny Tenaglia played in now-defunct London superclub Home. While CD1 is a decent, if slightly housey effort, CD2 is a fantastic voyage, from the opening bars of Microworld’s dreamy Signals, to the closing voice intonating ‘The enchantment is over’ as the mix blends out.

Highlights? Too many to mention – the chugging baseline of F2’s Dominica; the ‘hands in the air’ breakdown in the middle of Schiller’s Ruhe (Humate Mix); the unexpected blast of techno from Devilfish to close proceedings.

The stand-out, ‘hairs on the back of your neck’ moment, however, occurs at exactly 46 minutes and 12 seconds, as MK’s Burning breaks down into a passionate isolated vocal refrain.

Happy birthday Tony, ya filthy animal…

Microworld – Signals
DJ Linus – Otradnojoe
Lando – Magical Digital Drum
Elegia – Basic
Evolution – Phoenix
F2 – Dominica
Vegas Soul – Junk Funk
MK – Burning
Schiller – Ruhe
I-Ching feat DJ Patrick Reid – Ways of Love
Art of Trance – Monsoon
Devilfish – Live 1999

[Kudos to Global Underground Series for the upload]

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Emmanuel Top – Acid Phase [November 1994]

Lille-born Emmanuel Top was one of the great techno producers of the 90s, and his most recent release, on the deliciously-titled Filth on Acid Records, This is Cocaine, is a blistering return to form…

Back in November 1994, however, Top released what 909originals considers to be his magnum opus, Acid Phase, on his own Attack Records (which thanks to the likes of Nina Kraviz and Marcel Dettmann, has been getting renewed airplay recently).

Starting with a solid pumping techno riff, the track introduces a haunting 303 before a penetrating breakdown terrifies all and sundry. Still an epic tune to drop at 4am (or later), close to a quarter century after it was released.

Top would go on to find international acclaim as part of B.B.E., whose Seven Days and One Week topped the charts right across Europe.

Personally, we’re glad he’s back making acid again…

[Kudos to RaveKing86 for the Emmanuel Top upload, and LIVEDJSETS for the Nina Kraviz upload]


Haven’t I seen you somewhere before? MUZIK’s dance music lookalikes… [January 1997]

In the early days of the World Wide Web, when life was simpler, hours could be spent in a pub evaluating what famous person (no internet celebrities here) you or your mates looked like…

In January 1997, MUZIK magazine took this to the next level with a ‘Double Egg Special’; a collection of 20 lookalikes from the dance music world and their celebrity doppelgängers.

Some of these are bang on the money: Plus 8 Records founder John Acquaviva is a dead ringer for Elvis Costello, Keith Flint of The Prodigy is Krusty the Clown in human form, and it’s strangely convenient that you never see Jeremy Healy and Olympic athlete Sally Gunnell in the same room at the same time.

In other cases, MUZIK appears to be clutching at straws: Allister Whitehead and golfer Bernhard Langer? Derrick May and footballer Michael Thomas? Really?

Pity poor Nicky Holloway as well, we’re not sure what he might have done to piss off the editorial team, but comparing him to a troll is most unfair (if a little hilarious)…

[From MUZIK magazine, January 1997]

The Shamen havin’ it large at Highbury… [October 1992]

We’ve all been at a football game (or any other game for that matter) in which the half-time entertainment seems to be somewhat ‘out of kilter’ with the general ambience of the setting. Case in point: last year’s Euro 2016 opening ceremony in France, which saw David Guetta (Who? Exactly…) pretending to DJ for the assembled throng of Romania supporters…

However the fact that The Shamen, riding high on the back of ecstasy anthem Ebenezer Goode topping the charts, appeared on the pitch at Arsenal FC’s then-home, Highbury, in October 1992, is just legendary.

As this article by David Stubbs from Melody Maker (recorded for posterity in the excellent Rock’s Back Pages) shows, not everybody present on that fateful night knew just what to expect.

“The Shamen! What the f*** are they doing here? Well, they’re going to do a PA at half time, which will involve standing on a raised platform the size of a kitchen table in the middle of the pitch, miming to ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ and ‘Move Any Mountain’, accompanied by a troupe of dancing females known as “The Sky Strikers”, the Pans People de nos jours. It’s part of SkyTV’s efforts to jazz up their football coverage, emphasise the “family entertainment” angle, a razzamatazz alternative to queuing up at the pie stand. Laudable, perhaps, to wrench football out of its primitive, all-male enclave but how will the Gooners on the Clock End take to Mr C and the gang? It should be surreal, to say the least.”

Despite the group’s Colin Angus hopeful for a positive reception – “’Goode’ is intended as a terrace chant so this is the right context”, he muses – the reaction from the 21,000-strong crowd is… well, exactly what you would expect from 21,000 pissed up football fans, as described in irresistible detail…

“A massed murmur of bemusement. The Shamen? Then, the jeer goes up from the Clock End. “‘Oo the fackin’ ‘ell are you? ‘Oo the fackin’ ‘ell are you?” The scent of raspberry is in the air. Undeterred, Colin booms “Music, please!” boisterously into the mic. ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ strikes up. Surely that’ll raise a cheer. But no. As the wavering 40K sound system does its stuff (a local council official was down there with his geiger counter monitoring the sound level) and The Shamen and Sky Strikers do theirs, the rising crescendo of boos and whistles shudders the stadium girders.

“The Clock End try to drown them out with the “Arsenal!” chant. By ‘Move Any Mountain’ it’s sheer bread and circuses. It’s touch and go as to whether the portcullis is going to be raised and the lions let loose on the pitch. If Arsenal were losing they probably would be. Mr C waggles his fingers to the beat but his heart isn’t really in it. As the PA winds down they clamber down dejectedly, without a wave, the bad-tempered jeers of the Gooners pursuing them down the tunnel. Oh, dear.”

Never mind lads, there’s always Old Trafford and Anfield to try. Or not…

[Article by David Stubbs, Melody Maker, 1992, featured on Rock’s Back Pages. Photo by Steve Double, c 1991]

This documentary contains everything you need to know about electronic music in early 90s Berlin… [1993]

Music site Electronic Beats recently uncovered a gem lurking away in the far back reaches of YouTube – a documentary on early 90s Berlin trance and techno, hosted by MFS Records founder Mark Reeder.

Directed by Ben Hardyment, the documentary, entitled MFS Berliner Trance, is a step by step guide to the electronic music scene in the newly-reunified German capital a quarter of a century ago, packed into 26 glorious minutes.

Among the attractions is Paul van Dyk chatting about how the fall of the Berlin Wall enabled east Germans (like himself) to go record shopping for the first time…

…Laurent Garnier waxing lyrical about Berlin’s legendary E-Werk…

…Love Parade founder Dr Motte talking about ‘bunker parties’ in abandoned warehouses, and why only ‘the freaks’ go clubbing in East Berlin…

…Mijk van Dijk on how to construct an epic live set (with ne’er a computer in sight)…

…And some epic archival footage of an ‘underground’ east Berlin club circa 1986 (and six years later)…

[Serious kudos to The Soundtrack of Zapresic for the upload – this is EPIC]