“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..!”

 

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