Check out Sasha rocking a castle party in County Louth back in 1993… [May 1993]

Bellingham Castle, in County Louth, Ireland, is, according to the official website, ‘an elegant and spacious 17th Century Irish castle bursting with rich history, splendour and old-world luxury’.

For a few hours on the evening of 21 May 1993, however, it was bursting with a different type of history, as Ministry of Sound brought DJs including Sasha, Tony Humphries, CJ Mackintosh and Giulio Cesare to the castle’s lush surrounds.

Giants of the Irish dance scene such as Greg Dowling, Johnny Moy and Billy Scurry also played at the event, which was priced at just £13.50 – a good deal cheaper than the 60-odd quid being charged for a Carl Cox gig at a similar castle in Westmeath this summer.

The event, which was organised by Underground and Mixmag, was taped, and both Sasha and Cesare’s set’s have since been posted online – tracklistings below.

Enjoy!

[Kudos to Mark Johnston for the Mixcloud uploads]

Thunderdome’s early TV commercials underline just how insane the whole gabber scene was…

It’s testament to the hard work of ID&T founders Irfan van Ewijk, Duncan Stutterheim and Theo Lelie, that Thunderdome, the primary exponent of gabber in the Netherlands, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, with a party in Utrecht last October.

Accompanying the group’s events, which originally took place in Dutch cities such as Heerenveen, Groningen and Amsterdam before moving overseas in the mid-90s. there were the Thunderdome CDs, released on Arcade Records, and packed full of 150-bpm madness.

Almost as bonkers as the CDs themselves were the TV commercials to promote them: imagine sitting down for a nice, quiet family evening in front of the telly, only for one of these to come on…

Hardcore, after all, will never die.

[Kudos to Crimson THRAK for the upload]

Daft Punk’s Discovery, 17 years later… [February 2001]

Daft Punk released their second album, Discovery, on 26 February 2001, and while 17 years and two studio albums have passed (five if you count the soundtrack to Tron:Legacy and the two Alive albums, ’97 and 2007), there are still fewer moments in music more euphoric opening few bars of the album’s opener, One More Time.

More refined than the group’s debut, Homework, and yet still packing a punch – check out the supercharged Crescendolls and Superheroes – the album saw the emergence of Daft Punk’s fondness for the vocoder, which persisted across Human After All and reached its zenith in Random Access Memories, as well as the band don the now-legendary robot identities for the first time.

In fact, the inner sleeve of the vinyl features the duo in full robot garb.

According to the group’s Wikipedia page, Thomas Bangalter described the difference between Discovery and the band’s debut thus: “Homework […] was a way to say to the rock kids, like, ‘Electronic music is cool’. Discovery was the opposite, of saying to the electronic kids, ‘Rock is cool, you know? You can like that.”

The band’s change in direction was also reportedly influenced by Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker, which can only be a positive influence in anyone’s book.

As a review in Spin magazine in 2001, pictured below, put it, “Discovery’s opening is so obliteratingly great, it seems the world might be put permanently on hold. F**k all tomorrow’s parties, the sequence swears tonight’s never ending…”

We couldn’t agree more. Happy birthday, Discovery!

[Article snippet taken from Spin magazine, June 2001]

This video for Carl Cox’s I Want You (Forever) is so 1991 it hurts…

Back in 1991, legendary DJ Carl Cox dipped his toe into the production game, with the release of I Want You (Forever), arguably the great man’s finest solo work.

With slamming breakbeats, but up vocal snippets and plenty of Mentasm-style rave stabs, it’s a quality piece of work, released on Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto Records.

And as you would expect from a release in 1991, it also features a fantastic video, with all the early 90s trimmings you would expect, psychedelic fractals, silhouettes of ravers, fast cars speeding through tunnels, spinning vinyl and of course, plenty of closeups of Sir Cox himself.

[Kudos to Pulsi79 for the upload]

Check out this video from the opening party of The Kitchen nightclub in Dublin… [February 1994]

Despite operating for just over eight years (I had the pleasure of working there for three of them), The Kitchen Nightclub was arguably the best purpose-built venue in Dublin’s clubbing history, with a whopper soundsystem, red velour sofas and a moat around the dancefloor.

Located under The Clarence Hotel, and owned by U2, the club opened its doors in February 1994, and RTE was there to capture it, with Bono and co. arriving to an assembled throng of reporters and media types.

“Who are you hoping will come to the club?” the reporter asks Bono.

“People who are cool enough to leave me alone,” is the rock star’s reply. “The sort of people you like to hang out with anyway. There’s no VIP room… hopefully there’ll be special treatment for everybody that wants to queue up and come in.”

Click the image below to open the video in a new window.

Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ entered the charts on this day in 1991… [February 1991]

When the annals of dance music come to be written, Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy will likely go down as one of the all-time masterpieces.

Having been released earlier that month, Unfinished Sympathy first entered the charts on 23 February 1991, with the band’s name being changed (temporarily) to Massive, due to the release coinciding with the Gulf War.

The track is also memorable for its iconic video, featuring vocalist Shara Nelson (walking from from 1311 South New Hampshire Avenue to 2632 West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California), which was directed by Baillie Walsh.

We’d like to think that 27 years later, she’s still on the march, as the lush orchestral strings rise and fall around her.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Like Moby’s ‘Go’? Here are all the original remixes, back to back, over the course of an hour…

The Twin Peaks-sampling Go by Moby deserves to be held up as one of the epoch-defining tracks of the 90s,

However, along with the familiar Woodtick Mix, arguably the best known version, Moby released a myriad of alternative mixes of the track in the early 90s, mainly by himself, but also calling upon the remix services of artists such as Jam & Spoon.

Here, presented over the course of an hour and three minutes (and previously released in 1996 on Instinct Records), are all the original remixes of Go – featuring some notable inclusions: the Original Mix (at 17.07) drops the Laura Palmer’s Theme sample altogether (did Moby add this at a later date?) while the Delirium Mix (at 27.21) recalls early work by The Prodigy.

Elsewhere, the In Dub mix (48.00) is a chilled out journey through ambient and dub reggae, with spooky distorted vocals intoning “we are the future”.

As for the Amphetamix (60.23)? You don’t need to be a genius to work out how that one goes…

Track List:

01 Woodtick Mix 00:00
02 Analog Mix 04:27
03 Subliminal Mix 07:53
04 Night Time Mix 12:05
05 Original Mix 17:07
06 Low Spirit Mix 19:18
07 Rainforest Mix 22:14
08 Delirium Mix 27:21
09 Voodoo Child Mix 33:25
10 Barracuda Mix 38:09
11 Arpathoski Mix 42:50
12 In Dub Mix 48:00
13 Soundtrack Mix 54:49
14 Amphetamix 60:23

[Kudos to slapyaface for the upload]

 

Dance music invades the (commercial) airwaves… [January 1995]

This year, as many of you know, marks the 25th anniversary of the first BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix, broadcast on October 30 of that year.

But while the broadcast may have been welcomed by many in the dance music fraternity, that didn’t stop Radio 1 continuing to lose listeners to the increasing number of pirate stations.

So, in late 1994, the BBC decided to ‘double down’ on its youth content, announcing two new shows, helmed by Danny Rampling and Tim Westwood.

As this Mixmag article from January 1995 suggests, it was about time that the BBC woke up and drank the Kool Aid.

“There’s a new attitude, a new way of thinking,” Rampling explained at the time. “It’s getting the whole country ready to go out.”

Dance music invades the (commercial) airwaves... [January 1995]

Whatever about that, look at the baby face on Pete Tong..!

[Article snippet from Mixmag, January 1995]

 

Beat Dis! Bomb The Bass’ epic debut hit the charts 30 years ago today… [February 1988]

“The names have been changed to protect the innocent…”

There are debut singles, and then there’s Beat Dis, the first release by Bomb The Bass, the alter ego of producer Tim Simenon, which hit the charts for the first time on 20 February 1988 – thirty years ago. 🙂

The single, like MARRS’ Pump Up The Volume, was awash with samples, lifted from various hip hop and soul cuts, including tracks by Afrika Bambaata, James Brown, Jimmy Castor Bunch, Prince and Public Enemy (the Wikipedia page for the track contains a full list).

More notable in an old school context, however, is the use of the smiley on the record’s cover – the first time what would come to be known as ‘the’ symbol of acid house would adorn a record sleeve.

As The Guardian reported in 2009, “In February 1988, Bomb The Bass released the first pop reference to Watchmen, using the blood-stained logo on the cover of their hit Beat Dis. Tim Simenon has used the Smiley repeatedly: in the videos for the summer ’88 hit Don’t Make Me Wait (and for last year’s Butterfingers).

“In the previous month, Danny Rampling had used the Smiley in a flyer for his club Shoom. He’d got the idea from seeing the designer Barnzley at the Wag Club in a shirt covered “in a lot of smiley faces”. Embedded into the second “o” in Shoom, the symbol took a few weeks to catch on, but when it did, it swept the country as the logo of acid fashion.”

As the lyrics of Beat Dis attest, “Keep the frequency clear..!”

 

Haçienda founder and Factory Records guru Tony Wilson would have been 68 today…

It’s not often that you see Happy Mondays’ frontman Shaun Ryder get all emotional, but then again, Tony Wilson had that effect on people.

Today, 20 February, marks what would have been the Factory Records founder’s 68th birthday.

This tribute, broadcast on Granada TV last August to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing at the age of just 57, features a procession of familiar faces from what came to be known as the ‘Madchester’ scene: Shaun Ryder, Peter Hook, Terry Christian and others.

Wilson, dubbed ‘Mr. Manchester’ by some, was arguably the most influential character in the development of music in the north east of England in the 1970s and 80s, launching the careers of Joy Division and New Order, and of course establishing The Haçienda, a pivotal venue in the creation of club culture as we know it today.

Wilson died of cancer in 2007; in a tribute to the great man’s legacy, even his coffin bore a Factory Records catalogue number: FAC 501.

Happy birthday Tony, wherever you are…

[Kudos to Mike Hall for the YouTube upload]