A look at Cream Liverpool’s website… from 1997

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, as the saying goes, but Archive.org still throws up the odd gem – as I discovered the other day when I searched for www.cream.co.uk, the website of the late nightclub (and now global clubbing empire) based in Liverpool, using the ‘Wayback Machine.’

The earliest site record, from January 1997, is a glorious example of lo-fi web browsing, with a Cream logo etched onto an image of the earth, the obligatory web counter, and a myriad of links to explore.

A highlight is Nick Warren’s top ten in the ‘Resident DJ Profile’ page (would love to hear him play these out today!) but the real treasure is the ‘Cream Club Chat’ page, where clubbers discuss what their plans are for New Years’ Eve 1999, and list their ‘S..t DJs’ (a time capsule now immortalised for all time thanks to the internet)….

“One guy said Okenfold [sic] was s…!- I have seen most of the best DJ’s in the country and some worldwide at Cream over the past 3 years and Okenfold is definatly the best, as his sessions are consistantly [sic] bloody s… hot- I hope he stays at Cream for a f’in long time!!!!!…” [Thanks ‘evo’, whoever you are]

Kraftwerk By Numbers…

What happens when Kraftwerk’s ‘Numbers’ comes on in the club? You get in line and wait your turn to bust a move of course…

This has been doing the rounds on the internet for quite a while, but it never fails to entertain. The New Dance Show was a series that aired on local channel WGPR-TV 62 in Detroit (where else) in the late 80s and early 90s, borrowing heavily from its predecessor, The Scene, which spanned the 70s and 80s.

The show has been widely celebrated as having put early Detroit techno on the map (at least on TV) and this clip, from 1991, shows why.

Why Ralf Hütter and the boys haven’t signed up the diva at 2.21 as their backing dancer is beyond me…

Kudos to Detroit-based Youtuber Caprice87 for sharing this in the first place, not to mention the epic New Dance Show intro, set to Joey Beltram’s Energy Flash – they don’t make TV like this any more…

THE FACE goes clubbing in Chicago, c.1986…

While I may have been too young to fully appreciate it at the time, THE FACE magazine was undoubtedly a barometer of the direction youth culture was headed in the 1980s and early 90s. (In fact, I am the proud owner of several seminal c.1991-1994 copies, having discovered them in a rubbish tip some years back – more on that another time).

As I write this, there are reportedly plans to resurrect this once-glorious title… not a moment too soon.

In 1986, the magazine’s Sheryl Garratt ventured to Chicago to spend time with the  pioneers leading the charge in the city’s nascent house scene. This article was kindly reprinted by the excellent testpressing.org some years back, and it’s thanks to them that I am able to share it with you.

““You’ll leave there a changed person. You might go and seek religion afterwards! You’ll love it. It’s gonna be hot, it’s gonna be sweaty, and it’s gonna be great. What you’ll experience is honest-to-goodness, get down, low down, gutsy, grabbin’ type music. Boom boom boom!”

 

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: Incredible Intros. #1: New Order – Blue Monday [1983]

Well, we’ve made it. Over the past 12 days, 909originals has brought you what it deems to be the most devastating track openers and incredible intros in the history of dance music (the full list can be found below). And what better way to round off proceedings than with a track that arguably influences the lot.

You could write a treatise on the significance of New Order’s Blue Monday to the history of modern music – it enabled Messers Sumner, Hook etc to lay the ashes of Joy Division firmly to rest, was released in an iconic die cut ‘floppy disk’ sleeve designed by Peter Saville, and originally started life as a 20-minute soundscape called Video 5-8-6, copies of which are floating around on the Internet.

Is it overplayed? Certainly. Is it epoch-defining? Most definitely.

As for the intro? Find me a more influential electronic drum loop in music history, and I’ll call you a liar. To create the epic, stuttering drum beat, the band turned to an Oberheim DMX drum machine, used widely in early hip hop and synth pop, which is followed by a rising synthesiser riff – it’s not until around the 1.18 mark that an actual instrument makes an appearance – Peter Hook’s characteristic bass.

As Songlexikon recalls, ‘Running at over seven minutes, Blue Monday begins with an extended instrumental intro. The track features a unique rhythmic stutter and a sixteenth-note quantized drum beat that were famously programmed on the Oberheim DMX. These beats are followed by a pulsating bassline, originating from a Moog Source synthesizer, and sequenced with a Powertran ETI 1024 Composer that Sumner had assembled at home. As the intro gradually unfolds, the listener hears a high-register melodic lead, played by Peter Hook on his Shergold Marathon 6-string bass guitar. […] An evocative angel-like chorus is sampled by Morris on the Emulator and Gilbert finally enters with a shimmering string sequence on a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer.”

Or, in layman’s terms, THIS is how you create history.

Congratulations to New Order for taking the top spot in this year’s 12 Tunes of Christmas countdown. Do you agree? We’d love to get your feedback, and suggest any tunes that you feel should have made it in to the list. And most importantly, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: The Full List

#12: Royal House – Can You Party
#11: LFO – Freak
#10: Maurice – This Is Acid (K & T Mix)
#9: T99 – Anasthasia
#8: Laurent Garnier – Sound of the Big Babou
#7: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
#6: X-101 – Sonic Destroyer
#5: The KLF – What Time is Love?
#4: Pump Panel – Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction)
#3: Underworld – Rez
#2: Orbital – Chime
#1:  New Order – Blue Monday

[Kudos to KingOSynthPop for the YouTube upload]

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: Incredible Intros. #2: Orbital – Chime [1990]

Second place in our 12 Tunes of Christmas rundown of the most incredible intros in dance music history is a track so epic that if aliens ever decided to swing by Earth on the way to Alpha Centauri, hopefully this would be the first tune they heard. Hell, they can have my copy…

The story of Orbital’s Chime is almost as legendary as the track itself: brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll, messing around in their bedroom, record a track to tape, bring it to Jazzy M’s record shop, play it over the tannoy to a bunch of stunned punters, and release it, first on Oh’Zone records and then FFRR, earning them a spot on Top of the Pops later that year.

Incredibly, almost 30 years after it was recorded, the opening bars still have the power to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck – the repeated, heavily-reverbed piano stab (like some sort of techno alarm clock) announces the track, before bass, breakbeats and THAT breakdown take the whole experience to another level.

They don’t make em like this any more…

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: The Story So Far

#12: Royal House – Can You Party
#11: LFO – Freak
#10: Maurice – This Is Acid (K & T Mix)
#9: T99 – Anasthasia
#8: Laurent Garnier – Sound of the Big Babou
#7: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
#6: X-101 – Sonic Destroyer
#5: The KLF – What Time is Love?
#4: Pump Panel – Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction)
#3: Underworld – Rez
#2: Orbital – Chime
#1: ???

[Kudos to Andrew West for the YouTube upload]

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: Incredible Intros. #3: Underworld – Rez [1993]

To all intents and purposes, Underword’s Rez should never have been a hit.

Having had limited success in the latter part of the 80s, the early 1990s saw Karl Hyde and Rick Smith of Underworld appoint a new member, Darren Emerson, to assist with the band’s progression from synth-pop nobodies to techno legends. This was encapsulated by the release of the epic dubnobasswithmyheadman in January 1994.

Rez was recorded during the sessions for this album but never made the final cut, and was instead released on a limited edition pink vinyl on Junior Boys Own records in 1993. Its underground popularity led to it being reissued as a double A-side with Cowgirl (from dubnobasswithmyheadman) in 1995, and it later made it on to the bonus disc of follow up Second Toughest in the Infants in 1996.

Given that it was recorded so early in the ‘second phase’ of Underworld’s career, there’s a simplicity to the opening arpeggio chord progression that is unlike anything else recorded at the time, and has certainly not dated in the slightest.

In an interview with Billboard magazine, Underworld sought to sum up the lasting allure of what is now regarded as one of their standout compositions.

“Firstly it has a joyous, celebratory sound that seems to impart positivity and good vibes whenever it’s played. And secondly it doesn’t sound like anything else. It didn’t sound fashionable when we first released it, and it certainly wasn’t made for any one scene or type of DJ like so much dance music has been over the years. Someone once said it’s the sound of a techno ice cream van coming towards you. Who doesn’t like that?”

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: The Story So Far

#12: Royal House – Can You Party
#11: LFO – Freak
#10: Maurice – This Is Acid (K & T Mix)
#9: T99 – Anasthasia
#8: Laurent Garnier – Sound of the Big Babou
#7: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
#6: X-101 – Sonic Destroyer
#5: The KLF – What Time is Love?
#4: Pump Panel – Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction)
#3: Underworld – Rez
#2: ???

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: Incredible Intros. #4: Pump Panel – Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction) [1995]

We continue our countdown of the most inspirational intros in dance music history with a track that took three years to come to prominence, thanks to its inclusion in vampire movie Blade.

Pump Panel’s Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction) was initially released on FFRR in 1995 (alongside the excellent Re-Mover) and has to be one of the sickest New Order remixes/covers of all time. The track is peppered with highly distorted vocal snippets from the Arthur Baker-produced original, the only hint of familiarity about the Pump Panel edit.

But then again, with a TB-303 riff this epic, who cares?

Pump Panel was the alter ego of producers Tim Taylor and Dan Zamani, who were occasionally joined by stalwarts of the techno scene including Alexi Delano, Cari Lekebusch and Damon Wild. Notably, Taylor was also the man behind Egyptian Empire’s The Horn Track, a similarly epic techno stomper from 1991. Nice to have both that AND Confusion on your CV.

And as for its use in Blade? Some 20 years after the movie was first released, it’s well worth another watch – arguably the best nightclub scene in movie history. If I ever meet the individual who selected that particular piece of music to accompany it, I’m buying him or her a drink.

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: The Story So Far

#12: Royal House – Can You Party
#11: LFO – Freak
#10: Maurice – This Is Acid (K & T Mix)
#9: T99 – Anasthasia
#8: Laurent Garnier – Sound of the Big Babou
#7: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
#6: X-101 – Sonic Destroyer
#5: The KLF – What Time is Love?
#4: Pump Panel – Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction)
#3: ???

[Kudos to Imma Santos and Yoda for the YouTube uploads]

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: Incredible Intros. #5: The KLF – What Time is Love? [1988]

With the return of the KLF earlier this year, perhaps Messrs Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond might be able to answer the question: ‘Did the KLF invent trance music’?

Reportedly recorded amidst aesthetic dissatisfaction at the commercial success of Doctorin the Tardis, the KLF’s prior side project, What Time is Love? was released in October 1988, opening with an oft-used quote from MC5’s Kick Out The Jams before entering serious rave territory.

The sleeve for the track was subtitled Pure Trance 1, and was idealised as the first of a set of ‘underground’ singles labelled ‘Pure Trance’, which would include future releases 3am Eternal and Last Train to Trancecentral, as well as a number of unreleased singles, such as Love Trance and Turn Up The Strobe.

As the Wikipedia page for What Time is Love explains, an Oberhein OB-8 synthesiser was used in its composition, with the track “based around an acid house riff on three low-pitched notes and one minor chord (B minor). The subtle progression of the piece occurs through the modulation of the main loops, the dub-like dropping of particular loops, and a recurring high-pitched refrain on two notes (B bending to F#).”

Personally, I just think it sounds f*king epic. As any ‘pure trance’ track should…

PS: As discovered by Discogs user T-Ten, Bill Drummond revealed the unusual title of the track during a recent radio show on Resonance FM: “Jimmy Cauty and I went down to Heaven one Monday night, and it was my first time taking E. After a while, nothing seemed to be happening so I turned to Jimmy and said What Time Is Love? (as in when is this gonna kick in) and within a few moments of saying those words, my legs felt warm and my hands went clammy…” The rest, as they say, is history.

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: The Story So Far

#12: Royal House – Can You Party
#11: LFO – Freak
#10: Maurice – This Is Acid (K & T Mix)
#9: T99 – Anasthasia
#8: Laurent Garnier – Sound of the Big Babou
#7: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
#6: X-101 – Sonic Destroyer
#5: The KLF – What Time is Love?
#4: ???

[Kudos to Backintday for the YouTube upload]

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: Incredible Intros. #6: X-101 – Sonic Destroyer [1991]

Continuing our look at the most impressive intros ever committed to wax, this next track not only made an aural impact, but also helped to launch a record label.

X-101 was an Underground Resistance-related project of legends Mike Banks, Jeff Mills and Robert Hood, and the Sonic Destroyer EP has to go down in each’s canon as a high water mark.

While the other tracks on the EP, which was the first release on the now legendary Tresor Records label, are both tough and melodic – Rave New World and Mindpower for example – the opener is a jagged, scything techno masterpiece that couldn’t really have been made anywhere outside Detroit.

What I love most about this opening is the pause at around the 14 second mark, an opportunity for the listener to catch his or her breath before the beats kick in. And boy do they kick in… 🙂

More than 25 years later, Tresor Records, Mills, Hood and co are still going strong. When you make opening statements as strong as this, that doesn’t surprise me.

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: The Story So Far

#12: Royal House – Can You Party
#11: LFO – Freak
#10: Maurice – This Is Acid (K & T Mix)
#9: T99 – Anasthasia
#8: Laurent Garnier – Sound of the Big Babou
#7: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
#6: X-101 – Sonic Destroyer
#5: ???

[Kudos to Hideyuki for the YouTube upload]

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: Incredible Intros. #7: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy [1997]

While yesterday’s review of Laurent Garnier’s Sound of the Big Babou highlighted that track’s haunted ambience, today’s might just scare the listener out of his or her wits completely.

There was a time, sometime around the late 90s, that you couldn’t turn on MTV late at night (1am? 2am?) without catching a glimpse of the dystopian horrorshow that was Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy, as expertly directed by Chris Cunningham.

The track, released just in time for Halloween in October 1997, achieved some degree of chart success (not that Aphex Twin, aka Richard D James, gave a toss) teaching as high as #10 in Belgium – now that’s a chart countdown I would have loved to have heard…

“In at #11, it’s the Spice Girls with Say You’ll Be there. And a non mover at #10…. ‘I WAAAANNNT YOUR SOOOOOUULLLLL!!!’ 👹

In a 2001 interview with Index, from the tune’s Wikipedia page, James revealed how the track came about.

“Come to Daddy came about while I was just hanging around my house, getting pissed and doing this crappy death metal jingle. Then it got marketed and a video was made, and this little idea that I had, which was a joke, turned into something huge. It wasn’t right at all.”

It’s certainly right in our book, Richard…

12 TUNES OF CHRISTMAS: The Story So Far

#12: Royal House – Can You Party
#11: LFO – Freak
#10: Maurice – This Is Acid (K & T Mix)
#9: T99 – Anasthasia
#8: Laurent Garnier – Sound of the Big Babou
#7: Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
#6: ???

[Kudos to smoke070z for the YouTube upload]