SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND: Larry Levan, last night at the Paradise Garage [September 1987]

This past week has seen the 30th anniversary of the closing of one of the clubs that started it all, New York’s Paradise Garage.

On September 26 1987, nine and a half years after it opened, the doors were finally shut on a club that had acted as a beacon of light in a New York that was riddled with drugs, crime and those that were left behind by the Reaganomics juggernaut. Particularly for New York’s gay community, the club was a vestige of liberation in a widely homophobic community.

In Larry Levan, the club’s legendary resident, the Paradise Garage had the ultimate helmsman, someone who is still regarded as the ‘greatest of all time’ in the DJ world.

As fellow resident David Di Pino recalls in this great article with Red Bull Music Academy, from 2014:

“Larry was all about sound. He could care less about mixing… There were nights when he came in, he concentrated, his mixes were perfect and smooth, and there were some nights he came in and he banged everything… because the banging is what made you shock people. You were dancing ‘bah, bah, bah,’ and then suddenly you hear ‘boom’ and you went ‘arrggh.’ Larry loved the reaction.

“Larry loved to shock, and he was controlling the dance floor. He did a lot of popping and a lot of banging in [the records] and he did things that made people constantly scream. Mixing, he liked when it got intense. When you mix beautifully from one record to another, in your mix you create a third record because they blended so well together. You could do that for a while, but Larry always felt if you did that all night long it was boring. It was like a six hour record was on.”

Sadly, Levan would outlive the Paradise Garage by just five years, dying of heart failure in 1992, aged just 38.

[Kudos to BergamoStreetArmy for the upload]

Check out this video of The Prodigy horsing around during the making of ‘Out of Space’… [October 1992]

The Prodigy’s seminal Experience celebrates its 25th birthday today, having been released on 28 September 1992. The fact that the band are still going strong is testament not only to the savage production skills of maestro Liam Howlett, but also the sneering Essex attitude of Keith and Maxim (and latterly Leeroy).

Out of Space, the fifth single released by the group, and the third from Experience, dropped in October of that year, and remains a classic to this day – thanks to its timeless Max Romeo and Ultramagnetic MCs samples.

As this ‘behind the scenes’ clip from the making of the Out of Space video reveals, the lads always found the time to have a laugh while laying down some serious beats.

Special mention must go to Keith and his Vicks Vaporub enhanced ‘mong’ at 2.11.

[Kudos to Firestarter089 for the upload]

THROWBACK THURSDAY – Brainbug, Nightmare [November 1996]

I was disappointed to read recently about the death of Alberto Bertapelle, an Italian composer and producer who died on stage during a guitar performance in Udine last November – another of the noted musicians that failed to make it through the annus horribilis of 2016. He was just 57.

While not a household name, Bertapelle found fame in 1996 with the single Nightmare, recorded under the nom de plume Brainbug: a track that goes down as one of the most sinister dance tracks to break the charts – it made it to number 11 in the UK, and as high as 4 in the US Club Play charts.

First released on Italy’s Strike Force imprint, it would achieve universal acclaim the following year as it was published first on Additive and then on Positiva, a release that included the infamous ‘Sinister Strings‘ mix, as well as a Tall Paul edit.

The accompanying video was a ‘no expense spared’ B-Movie masterpiece that Ed Wood would be proud of (keep an eye out for the twist at the end..!).

Brainbug released a couple of notable follow ups, including Benedictus and Rain, but it was his first smash single that ultimately defined his career.

When the annals of dance history are drawn up, those that choose to define what genre Brainbug’s Nightmare should sit in could be left scratching their heads – ‘pizzicato techno’, perhaps? It’s a tribute to a producer gone too soon.

[Kudos to Richard D for the upload]

Laurent Garnier: “I’m not going to play on CDs… fuck that, no way.” [1994]

Laurent Garner has always been one of techno’s more imaginative producers, following up early rave stompers with The Man With The Red Face and more ambient work such as The Cloud Making Machine.

This interview with Top DJ Mag from 1994 finds the Frenchman, sporting a Save Vinyl t-shirt, in playful form, particularly when it comes to his future DJ career.

“In two years time, maybe something else will be big, I don’t know what, maybe something new will take over from the DJs. In ten years time, there aren’t going to be any more vinyls, a lot of DJs are going to die. As soon as this is going to be dead, what are we going to do? I’m not going to play on CDs… fuck that, no way. I can’t mix from fucking CDs…no!”

Elsewhere in the interview, Garnier mulls on his early career in Manchester’s The Hacienda and Paris’ Rex club, and reveals how he caught the production bug somewhat by accident.

“In 1990, I went to a studio in England with a friend of mine, he was used to making records so he had a 24-track studio blah blah blah. I went there to do a jingle for one of my nights in Paris, just a 30 to 40 second jingle. And we ended up doing a track, and the day after we signed the track, funnily enough.

“So I thought I might as well carry on making music, and I got more and more into it. Even now, I’m getting very much into my production. Now I want to make it into more of a career, but first of all, it was just a laugh.”

The interview is also interspersed with the videos for Acid Eiffel, Planet Sex and Dark Comet, three of Garnier’s early classics, while the full video, running for an hour, also features a stellar array of early house and rave classics, footage from the Universe Global Dance Party in London, as well as an interview with Kevin Sanderson of Inner City.

[Thanks to www.laurentgarnierworldwide.com for the link, and Manu Charman for the Youtube upload]

The comments on this rave video keep getting better… [January 1994]

Earlier this year, Shortlist published one of the most life affirming posts on the rave scene, writing about a video that has been doing the rounds on YouTube for a couple of years now, entitled, Old School Rave – The Morning After The Night Before

It’s a must watch for anyone that has seen the sun come up in the countryside, set to a techno beat – here it is again for the uninitiated.

As Shortlist pointed out, the identity girl at the end of the video who steals the show with her freaky dancing (likely to the music in her head) has been revealed, as the woman herself, Michelle Marie Smith, replied to a comment on the whereabouts of her car.

The comment thread that follows is brilliant, a summary of why those that lived through these heady days will take the memories with them forever.

And it gets better… since this Shortlist post was published, the same comments thread has reunited Marie with one of her old raver pals, Danny, who she has been trying to find for years.

For those that thought the internet was a soulless place, this shows how the web can be a beautiful thing.

“RAVE ON ALL RAVERS!” as Smith herself might put it.

[Kudos to RockSimian for uploading the original video]

Homelands Ireland, 18 years ago today… [September 1999]

Today, 25 September, marks 18 years to the day since the Homelands Ireland 1999, a landmark festival in Irish clubland…

While the UK had played host to a myriad of dance-themed events over the course of the decade, including Tribal Gathering, the Fantazia events and the original Homelands itself, Ireland was yet to experience anything like it, save for a few ‘dance tents’ at festivals like Féile, in Tipperary.

Homelands Ireland changed all that, and as this documentary, broadcast shortly after the event, shows, the fact that THIS IS HAPPENINGin IRELAND! is writ large across the faces of anyone involved in the Irish dance music industry, not to mention the 20,000 or so happy punters (including me!) that made the trip to Mosney Holiday Centre on a soggy September afternoon.

As they say in Irish, Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann – we’ll never see its like again…

[Kudos to brandnewretro.ie for the image upload, and Ronan Carty for the video]

Minsk’s answer to Beardyman is a joy to behold…

It’s not every day that 909originals finds itself in Minsk, the capital of Belarus – and not every day that we stumble across a beatboxer with serious skills like this chap…

We’re not sure what his name is (answers on a postcard..!), but his combination of looped samples and echo effects is reminiscent of the UK’s Darren Foreman, aka Beardyman, who has been mastering this shtick for years, via a bank of Korg Kaoss pads.

You’ve heard of the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’, ladies and gentlemen, may I present.. the ‘Beardyman of Belarus’…

Techno’s biggest names ‘rock the vote’ [2002]…

With Germany set to go to the polls today, it’s worth looking back to the country’s federal elections of 2002, when some of the country’s biggest names in techno joined forces to encourage young people to vote.

DJs and producers such as 2Raumwohnung, Ellen Allien, Frank Lorber, Michael Meyer, Paul van Dyk, Ricardo Villalobos, Sven Väth, Timo Maas and Westbam all put their name to an open letter, ‘Disko Deutschland geht wählen!’ (Disco Germany goes to the polls!), which was shared en masse via email and online messageboard, as well as being printed in magazines such as Spex and Groove.

As the letter stated at the time, “Each of us loves our individuality, and our freedom. Each of us is, more or less, choosy. Why can I get into a club, while others can’t? Why do I prefer releases on from labels X or Y, but not Z? […] But when it comes to the future of our country, we suddenly close our eyes and are completely disorientated. That cannot be right, in our view…

So, did it work? The election saw Gerhard Schröder’s SPD party retain a narrow majority, despite losing 47 seats…

Think you know David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’? You’ve never heard it like this before…

Celebrating its 40th birthday today (23 September), David Bowie’s Heroes still has the power to captivate, and its tale of two drunk, star-crossed lovers is one for the ages…

It has also spawned numerous cover versions and remixes, with Aphex Twin‘s incredible reworking, from his 26 Mixes for Cash album (released 2003), in a league of its own.

Borrowing from composer Philip Glass‘ orchestral version of Heroes, and using Bowie’s isolated lyric from the original, it’s arguably Richard D James’ finest remix, and unlike anything you have ever heard.

Rising and falling string patterns, a la Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi score, are spliced with vocals that feel like they are floating in space, as haunting, discordant voices yell out in the background.

It’s terrifying yet beautiful, and best enjoyed through headphones… although perhaps not in a dark room, alone.

Happy birthday Heroes!

[Kudos to CARRS for the upload]

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND – Derrick May – Chemistry on 3 Mix, Amsterdam [1996]

Detroit’s finest Derrick May has a history of combining a myriad of styles, from disco to house to mind-numbing techno, over the course of a two hour set, and this mix, recorded at Escape, Amsterdam in 1996, is an example of the maestro at work.

In this now 21-year-old mix, the ‘Belleville Three‘ member blends Donna Summer, Surgeon, Gene Farris, Jeff Mills, Basement Jaxx, Moodymann and a plethora of artists into 102 minutes of gloriousness.

None other that Joris Voorn posted this mix to his SoundCloud page [thanks Joris!] a few years back, saying, “Here’s the tape that made me wanna be a DJ. […] Since my early DJ days, I consider Derrick May as a huge inspiration, and in particular this DJ set.”

High praise indeed, but in this instance well deserved…

[Picture courtesy WikimediaCommons/ThatChickOverThere]