There’s no doubt that the summer of 1988 marked a watershed moment in the history of dance, as the house rhythms of Chicago, artistic exuberance of Ibiza, and electronic soundscapes of Detroit surged through club culture.
With this in mind, 909originals presents ‘Postcards from 88’, a series that will see leading DJs, promoters, journalists, club owners, photographers, and of course the clubbers themselves, shed some light on just what went on during those halcyon days, 30 years ago.
This week’s ‘Postcards from 88’ features a journalist and author who was one of the first to write about acid house in the UK music press, and over a 30-year career has headed up titles such as Muzik and Electronic Sound, the latter of which he launched in 2013… Push.
Q. Do you remember what you were doing as the Summer of 1988 started?
I’d been a music journalist for two or three years at that point. I was dividing my time between writing for Melody Melody and editing a London magazine called The Buzz. We all thought The Buzz was a cooler, sharper, more ‘street’ version of iD. Which it was.
Q. When or where did you first realise that ‘something different’ was happening with music, particularly dance/club music?
It was a slowly creeping realisation, rather than some sudden and dramatic single moment. Mark Moore wrote reviews for The Buzz and it was Mark who introduced me to most of those early underground house records. This would have been in 1986.
The Buzz office was always full of interesting characters and it was through the magazine that I first met people like Tim Simenon, Peter Ford (Baby Ford) and Mixmaster Morris, as well as bands like The Shamen and World Domination Enterprises, who were involved in the Mutoid Waste Company parties.
I remember going with Charlie Cosh, who was The Shamen’s manager, to a weird industrial-meets-electro-meets-fucked-up-house night in a warehouse in Hackney at some point in 1987 and it totally blew my mind.
Around the same time, I saw the likes of Joe Smooth, Keith Nunnally and Daryl Pandy on what was billed as the Chicago Jackmaster Tour, which I think was put together by DJ International. They played the Town & Country Club in Kentish Town and it was half empty, but I loved it. I interviewed everybody on the tour at a hotel in Soho the next day.
Q. What was the first acid house club you went to regularly?
I didn’t go to the early Shoom nights – I obviously wasn’t as cool as I thought I was – so my first acid club experience was Spectrum. I think I went the second or third week, so April or maybe May 1988. It was at Heaven on a Monday night. There were only a few hundred people there. It was even more empty than the Chicago Jackmaster date at the T&C. That soon changed, though.
And actually, if there was a single moment of realisation for me, it came late one Monday night a few weeks later. I had a deadline for a feature for Melody Melody the next morning and I was on the bus going home.
I remember suddenly saying to myself, ’Fuck writing the feature’ and getting off the bus to catch another back into town because I couldn’t bear the thought of missing Spectrum.
Q. Was there a particular tune from the Summer of 1988 that stood out for you? Why?
There were so many great records around that summer, although a lot of them were actually a couple of years old by that point. If I have to pick just one, I’d say Master C & J’s Dub Love, which came out on Trax in 1986. It’s a very minimal track rather than an energetic jack track, but the main synth line is incredibly sinister, kind of reminiscent of John Carpenter, and it still gives me the shivers every time I hear it.
Q. Why do you think that people are still so interested in the origins of the dance scene, old school and everything that goes with it?
For everyone who was there, there’s no way that they will never forget the wonderful music and the fantastic clubs and the amazing vibe of those days. It had a huge impact on so many people’s lives. For those who weren’t there, I think that period of time has assumed an almost mythical status and perhaps justifiably so.
There’s certainly no denying that it was the single most important step change in the still developing story of electronic music.
Q. If the ‘you’ from 1988 could give the ‘you’ from 2018 a piece of music-related advice, what would it be?
Don’t put those boxes of white labels in a damp garage and leave them there for the best part of 20 years. You f**king idiot.