The first wave of acid house took so many by surprise that even the mainstream media weren’t sure how to classify it. Exhibit A (or should that be ‘E’?) was The S*n’s infamous campaign offering readers the chance to purchase a ‘groovy and cool’ smiley t-shirt.
Looking back, it’s hard to fathom that arguably the biggest selling newspaper in the UK initially embraced the rave scene, before turning its knives (and everything else) on this ‘corruptor of youth culture’.
Into this naive, heady daze of late 1988 came Humanoid’s Stakker Humanoid, now rightly considered an acid classic, produced by Future Sound of London’s Brian Dougans.
At the time, however, it was being embraced as the sound of the future by mainstream DJs such as Bruno Brookes.
Brookes was effusive in his praise for the track, writing the following in the now-defunct Number One magazine on 23 November 1988: “Londonbeat are well worth watching out for in the future, but there are some other good new singles out at the mo. The Humanoid Stacker [sic] single, which I’ve been playing exclusively on the show is MEGA, and so is George Michael’s newie. But it’s thumbs down for Rick Astley – I just don’t like his voice on his newie.”
We suspect Rick Ashley, whose visage adorned the cover of that particular edition, was as confused as the rest of us.
Brookes even went on to play the track twice on one edition of his radio show, unheard of for a techno track before or since.
“It just got to me,” Brookes told The Guardian in 2013.
“I remember listening to it and thinking it was one step ahead of everything techno that was coming out. It wasn’t copying anything else; it was just fabulous.”
And he wasn’t the only one. Pete Waterman, of ‘Stock, Aitken and…’ infamy, gave the mysterious Humanoid his first live TV appearance on The Hitman And Her – a late night nightclub-based variety show, filmed in various northern nightclubs.
Dressed in a kilt (we’re not sure why), Waterman introduced Stakker Humanoid with the enthusiastic claim, “We played it first. This week’s No 1 dance record on the British chart!”
Within weeks of the tracks release – it reached as high as #17 in the pop charts – rave culture was public enemy number one, and Stakker Humanoid was pushed back underground from whence it came.
For a couple of glorious weeks, however, Stakker Humanoid surfed the wave between acid house culture and widespread public acceptance, in a way that few other tracks could achieve in the three decades since. 🙂