Homelands Ireland 2000 was 18 years ago today. Check out this amazing video of Mr Spring’s set… [April 2000]

While the first Homelands Ireland (click here for more) was a landmark moment for the Irish dance movement, Homelands Ireland 2000, which took place on this day 18 years ago (29 April) was no less groundbreaking.

The lineup was insanely good for one thing: Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Slam, DJ Hype, Mr C, Boo Williams, Craig Richards, Lee Burridge, Nick Warren, Primal Scream, as well as the cream of the Irish scene (also notable were the number of Irish tricolours with Mitsubishi signs painted on them, ah the memories… 🙂).

The standout was undoubtedly the Lush arena, which went off as soon as the doors opened at 1pm and maintained that energy right until close.

This set, by Mr Spring, aka Timmy Hannigan, sums up the exuberance of that glorious day out at Mosney Holiday Centre, County Meath.

[Kudos to RTÉ2fm for the upload. Picture by Pete Smith for eFestivals.co.uk]

Ruff in the jungle… did drum and bass kill acid house’s high? [April 1994]

Back in April 1994, as the nascent drum and bass scene was growing around the UK, Mixmag ran an interesting analysis of the impact jungle had on dance music – was it a force for good, giving extra mileage to a tired rave scene, or was it a ‘nasty business, too mixed in with hard drugs, violence and bad vibes, killing the scene without mercy’?

As author Jane Headon reported at the time, “After the ’88/’89 summers of love, when house started dividing itself up like an amoeba, one of the sub-genres was heavily reggae influenced tracks. Black kids stole back their tech and chucked deep baselines and frantic breakbeats under it. Shut Up And Dance started toasting over bass heavy hardcore.”

This, in turn led to hits such as SL2’s On A Ragga Tip, which, of course, cemented that dub reggae/hardcore influence into dance music’s mainstream.

But not all welcomed the new arrival. “Ravers have been writing to Mixmag complaining that jungle is killing rave’s happy vibes,” Headon comments, quoting promoter Gerald Bailey as saying, “A lot of it is quite moody. It doesn’t promote hand shaking and sharing bottles to water.”

But why did dance take a shift to the dark side? Was it due to drugs, or something more basic? The article quotes veteran DJ SS, who suggests that the rise of hardcore was initially a reaction to the commercialisation of the scene, and the need to go back to basics.

“Most of the DJs thought that the scene was getting too commercial,” he explains. “They wanted to deepen the music. They basically went too far but the idea was that the true raver would stick with it and the commercial people – the fakers – would fade out of it. But people took it too far and they forgot. It went too deep for too long.”

You can find the full article here. [Image taken from Mixmag, April 1994]

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Liquid – Sweet Harmony [1991]

Featuring arguably the all time greatest piano loop in acid house history (borrowed from CeCe Rogers’ Someday), Liquid’s Sweet Harmony is just as devastating now as it was when it was first released in 1991.

As the legend goes, Liquid pairing Shane Heneghan and Eamon Downes borrowed some money from a friend to press up the ‘Liquid EP’, which featured Sweet Harmony as the A-side (and the often-overlooked Liquid is Liquid on Side B).

Following high profile plays from Ray Keith and Pete Tong, the duo rang around every label they could think of in the months that followed, trying to secure a label release, which finally arrived in 1992, when XL Recordings took a punt on the duo and released the track.

And thus acid house history was secured.

And as for the original? Mixmag paid arguably the finest tribute to Someday back in 1996, when it named the track at number 3 in its ‘100 Greatest Dance Singles Of All Time’, saying, “No surprise that the simple, but potent downward moving chord sequence was used later on every bloody record ever, including Sweet Harmony by Liquid and ripped off on the Farley and Heller version of There But For the Grace of God, while the vocal line was nicked for Some Justice by Urban Shakedown. A true classic record.”

[Kudos to Liquid for the YouTube upload]

Hallelujah! 808 State are coming to save Christmas..!

Some three decades on from their stonking debut, Newbuild, 808 State have just announced a 30th anniversary tour that will track the evolution of the original, and arguably most important, acid house band.

With dates in London, Hull, Portsmouth, Bristol, Norwich, Birmingham, Glasgow, Sheffield and a closing ‘late show’ in Manchester (where else?) scheduled for November and December, it seems that for us slightly older ravers, Christmas is coming earlier this year.

No Dublin show has been announced yet, but I’m still hopeful! 🙂

The band are reportedly in the studio recording a new album, Transmission Suite. Personally, we can’t wait for the wave of middle-aged euphoria when the boys blast out classics like Cubik and Pacific State.

And remember, acid house will NEVER die! 🙂

Full list of dates (tickets go on sale this Friday)

23rd November 2018 – Koko, Camden, London
24th November 2018 – Asylum, Hull
30th November 2018 – Pyramids, Portsmouth
1st December 2018 – SWX, Bristol
7th December 2018 – The Waterfront, Norwich
8th December 2018 – O2 Institute, Birmingham
14th December 2018 – The Foundry, Sheffield
15th December 2018 – O2 ABC, Glasgow
21st December 2018 – Manchester Academy (late show).

[Kudos to Pete Baker for the YouTube upload]

The man behind arguably the most important magazine in Germany’s techno history… [March 1996]

Jürgen Laarmann may not be a household name outside of Germany, but for a generation of clubbers east of the Ruhr, he is synonymous with one of the most important publications in techno history – Frontpage.

Earlier this month, Dazed ran a brilliant profile of the publication that was described as both “printed rave” and “graphic ecstacy”, between 1989, when it was founded, and its final print run in 1997.

Borne out of an in-house fanzine for Technoclub, a club night held in Frankfurt Airport – imagine arriving back on an early morning flight to be confronted with that! – it was an important chronicler of a techno movement that helped to define a newly-unified Germany.

In March 1996, Der Spiegel caught up with Laarmann, on the back of the launch of a rave compilation and announcement of a ten-day arts and culture festival in Berlin.

“Techno is a kind of cultural principle,” Laarmann explains during the article. “It means that every person has easy access to technology and can do everything himself.”

As the author puts it, ‘Techno, according to his idea, is not an ideology, but a potential: just as anyone can produce their own music with an investment of a few thousand marks, so every human being in the techno age can shape his life freely and independently. In Laarmann’s Marxism for the Raving Society; Sampler, Internet and Macintosh replace hammers and sickles.’

While the article was originally printed in German and requires Google Translate, it still makes for a fascinating read…

 

Check out these party goers raving the night away at Paris’ Castel Club in the 1990s…

Legendary Paris nightspot Chez Castel has been the centre of sophistication in the French capital for close to six decades.

Since 1962, when it opened, the club has welcomed celebrities such as Mick Jagger, Catherine Deneuve, Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot, Françoise Sagan, Aristotle Onassis and Brian Jones through its illustrious red doors, to party the night away.

Another regular, literary critic and writer Frédéric Beigbeder, brought along his camera on several occasions during the 1990s to capture the ambience; if you were looking for a snapshot of how elite Parisians liked to party some 20 to 25 years ago, look no further.

Embed from Getty Images

[Pictures from Getty Images]

Yes, Record Store Day is important, but let’s not kill the golden goose…

Founded in 2007 in the US, Record Store Day has undeniably played a part in the revival of vinyl as a format.

As evidenced by queues outside record shops around the globe, and the hundreds of artists signing up to offer RSD ‘exclusives’, this year’s event, taking place today, is likely to be the biggest yet, and provide a much needed boost to the traditional bricks and mortar music store business (take that, Amazon!).

To borrow a line from 90s indie comedy Empire Records, even Rex Manning would approve.

But with each passing year, I along with many others find myself aghast at the prices of said ‘exclusives’, and I worry that this important event is fast becoming another Hallmark holiday.

Yes, I like Zero 7, but do I want to shell out 60 quid for a box set of seven 7-inches, featuring their biggest singles?

The Sugarhill Records vinyl set similarly sounds fab (12-inch versions of Rapper’s Delight and Apache!), but I’m not going to fork out 50 quid for it.

And then there are the ‘stunts’, where bands develop ridiculous concepts to support a product’s ‘limited edition status’ and inflated price tags. This year, The Flaming Lips are releasing a special edition 7-inch single pressed with beer from Dogfish Head Alehouse.

Anyone who’s ever spilled a pint on a spinning vinyl knows that this is a somewhat baffling collaboration.

I’ve been buying vinyl all my life, and, Record Store Day or no, I won’t be going shopping for records today. I simply can’t afford to.

The other 364 days of the year, however, are a different story… KEEP VINYL ALIVE!

 

Massive Attack’s Mezzanine is 20 years old this week, and the band are commemorating it in the best way possible… [April 1998]

In the annals of electronic music history, there are few better opening 15 minutes than at the start of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, released 20 years ago this week.

In starting the album with four epic cuts – Angel, followed by Risingson, followed by Teardrop, followed by Inertia Creeps – the Bristol group cemented their status as masters of the trip hop genre they helped create, and all-round musical geniuses.

Making an appearance in both Rolling Stone Magazine and NME’s lists of the ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’, at #412 and #215 respectively, it hasn’t aged a bit, two decades on.

And underlining the group’s status as musical pioneers, to mark the 20th anniversary of Mezzanine, they boldly went where no band had attempted to go before, and encoded the whole album on DNA, working alongside ETH Zurich.

“While the information stored on a CD or hard disk is a sequence of zeros and ones, biology stores genetic information in a sequence of the four building blocks of DNA: A, C, G and T,” said Robert Grass, professor at ETH Zurich’s Functional Materials Laboratory.

The album will be transmuted onto 920,000 short DNA strands, which taken together contain all of Mezzanine’s information, which will then be poured into 5,000 tiny (nanometre-sized) glass spheres, over the course of a couple of months.

“Compared to traditional data-storage systems, it is quite complex and expensive to store information on DNA,” Grass added. “However, once information is stored on DNA, we can make millions of copies quickly and cost-effectively with minimal effort.”

Takes ‘Home Taping is Killing Music’ to a whole new level. Fair play lads!

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY: A Man Called Adam – Easter Song [1995]

With the mercury reaching 25-degrees plus in most of Europe today, for this week’s Throwback Thursday, I’ve picked a track synonymous with so many Ibiza sunsets, Easter Song by jazz/house maestros A Man Called Adam.

I first came across A Man Called Adam through the track Estelle, which appeared on the first (and still the best) Café Del Mar compilation, compiled by José Padilla, but delving further into their back catalogue, this track from 1995 encapsulates everything that I love about the White Isle.

A Man Called Adam have been fairly inactive since 2004,when they released a Best Of compilation on Southern Fried Records, but if this week’s weather continues for the remainder of the summer, I will be among those calling for a reunion.

Fun fact: former band member Paul Daley left the band in the early 90s to form Leftfield, alongside Neil Barnes. Now there’s an enviable CV if ever there was one…

[Kudos to CafedLmR for the YouTube upload]

You’re twisting my melon, man – Bez from the Happy Mondays turns 54 today…

Legendary dancer, vibesman, part-time politician, maracas enthusiast, reality TV star and professional caner Bez, from the Happy Mondays, turns 54 years old today, 18 April.

And like many longtime ravers, these days you couldn’t wash the smile off his face with a Brillo pad.

But as the Freaky Dancin author, known to his mum as Mark Berry, revealed in an interview last year, his involvement with the Mondays might never have happened.

“That’s the amazing thing about my whole career, there was absolutely no planning involved in it,” he told Lincolnshire Live“The Happy Mondays were supporting New Order in Manchester at the Hacienda club.

“At the time we were all taking microdots. Shaun was off his nut, and he turned round and said to me – because he was looking for some support – ‘Bez you are going to have to come on stage with us’. I told him to get lost.

“Obviously, I was taunted into it. So I just grabbed hold of a pair of maracas and got on stage and danced my socks off. […] I’ve never been off the stage since.”

As the article reveals Factory Records owner and Hacienda founder Tony Wilson was also clearly impressed, urging the band to hold on to their new arrival.

“You’ve got to keep him in the band,” was his curt response.

Happy birthday Bez, and here’s to many more…