THROWBACK THURSDAY: Nightmares On Wax – Dextrous [December 1989]

Released 30 years ago this week (11 December 1989) to be exact, Nightmares on Wax’s Dextrous was the second release on the then-fledging Warp Records label, and to this day remains one of the Sheffield imprint’s most iconic cuts.

Leeds native DJ EASE (who now comprises Nightmares on Wax by himself) recorded the track alongside Kevin ‘Boywonder’ Harper, whom he first encountered on the breakdancing scene.

“I was breakdancing in Leeds, then I met this stupendous bodypopper called Kevin in Bradford,” EASE (aka George Evelyn) told DMC World a few years back. “He taught me how to scratch and DJ, he later moved to Leeds, we made a tune, pressed it up ourselves and then drove and down the country selling it to record shops.

“We were so fortunate that which ever record store we hit there was a big DJ or label dude – Dave Dorrell, Paul Anderson, Mike Pickering, Graeme Park. Warp picked us up and off we went…”

DJ EASE in relaxed mood

A minimalistic masterpiece; for those of a certain generation Dextrous is the soundtrack to a leisurely drive through the countryside, returning from – or heading to – a rave.

Just ask Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll, for whom the track was a key influence.

“Dextrous by Nightmares on Wax blew me away when I first heard it,” Hartnoll told 909originals last year.

“It was the first Warp record I had ever heard, and I just thought it was f**king brilliant – so modern. I kept a close eye on Warp Records after that, it’s always been my favourite UK label.”

Indeed, Dextrous was in many ways the touchpaper at the base of Warp’s firework, selling 30,000 copies – compared to just 500 for the label’s first release, Trackmasters’ Track With No Name. And as for the iconic purple sleeve…? Nuff said.

Three decades on, it’s lost none of its lustre.

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