Today is World Emoji Day. But why is the Smiley associated with acid house?

Today, 17 July, marks World Emoji Day, and with that in mind, 909originals examines the origins of arguably the most iconic emblem of the acid house scene, the Smiley. 🙂

The simple, grinning face can be traced back to a myriad of origins – it appeared on the poster for 1953 academy-award winning movie Lili, and was also used by the State Mutual Life Insurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts in the early 1960s, as part of a promotional campaign.

However, the familiar yellow smiley that we know today can be traced back to January 1, 1972, and its appearance on the cover of French newspaper, France Soir – the work of artist Franklin Loufrani.

Sensing the opportunity, Loufrani trademarked the emblem, creating The Smiley Company, which remains the custodian for the brand around the world to this day (check out their impressive range of Smiley-themed merchandise; everything from berets to biscuit tins).

In terms of its dance music links, however, multiple sources combined at roughly the same time (1987/88), to create an association that remains strong more than 30 years later.

Having made occasional pop culture appearances over the years – appearing on Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer EP in 1977, and again in DC Comics’ Watchmen series in 1986/87 – Danny Rampling’s Shoom is undoubtedly where most clubbers first experienced the Smiley in an acid house context, with the yellow face plastered all over the club’s flyers and posters.

But as Rampling himself revealed previously, the idea to use the Smiley emblem came from encountering fashion designer Barnzley Armitage decked out in a shirt covered in “a lot of smiley faces”.

Armitage was a regular at Soho clubs such as the Beatnik Club and The Wag, forerunners in a ‘Sloane Ranger’ kind of way for the scene to follow.

As he told The Culture Crush: during the mid 80s, “Kids would just go out dancing every night. I guess it was the tail end of the new romantic thing, right before hip hop happened. They loved to dress up and go out.

“Looking back at it right now, we were really like degenerate teenagers, but it was loads of fun!”

By the time Shoom opened in 1987, that ‘fun’ had magnified ad infinitum.

Credit for the Smiley’s association with acid house should also go to i-D magazine for its now famous December 1987/January 1988 cover, subtitled “Get Up, Get Happy”, which shone a light on the emerging scene.

And by the following February, and the release of Bomb The Bass’ Beat Dis, the first record to feature the Smiley on the cover (albeit the blood-stained Watchmen version, rather than the ‘happy happy’ Shoom variant), the Smiley’s migration into acid house culture was complete.

But as Bomb The Bass’ Tim Simenon told in 2016, his breakthrough, sample-heavy record almost didn’t happen.

“I was at a sound engineering course when I made that record and I was quite happy just to work as a tea boy and work my way up in a studio,” he explained. “During that time I was looking at different studios that I wanted to apply to.

“Then the record came out and the reception was just phenomenal. Eventually, the fact that it did as well as it did, meant that all of sudden I was a music producer.”

An honourable mention should also go to D-Mob’s We Call It Acieed, released in October 1989, which was the first track to bring the Smiley-acid house connection into the MTV/Top of the Pops mainstream.

The video was, as you can imagine, banned by the BBC. But by that stage, the stage had already been set, and the ubiquitous Smiley would be a mainstay or dance culture for more than a generation… and then some.

[France Soir cover image copyright The Smiley Company. Kudos to zynsk for the YouTube upload]

Happy birthday Danny Rampling! Here’s an interview with the Shoom founder from November 1990…

DJ legend Danny Rampling turns 57 today (15 July), and with his fabled Shoom clubnight making a return in August, this time to Amsterdam’s Paradiso club, it seems the great man is continuing to do what he does best – keep people smiling.

909originals has delved into our vaults to uncover an interview with Rampling from November 1990, just a few weeks on from the release of the single I Hate Hate alongside Steve Eusebe, under the moniker The Sound of Shoom (the club itself having closed earlier that year).

As Rampling explains in the interview with Jocks’ magazine’s Ronnie Randall, while the early years of acid house were all about togetherness and the unifying power of music, it didn’t take long for the cracks to appear.

“We were tired after a couple of years and wanted to work on some fresh ideas,” Rampling says of the decision to close Shoom. “But mostly it was because the scene had been totally hijacked by a different kind of promoter who’d given everyone a bad name.

“If you were playing house music, you were suddenly one of life’s bad guy, you’d be hassled in cabs by taxi drivers and stuff. It was totally out of hand, attitudes had changed. The press sensationalism had brought in all these young kids who thought they HAD to be on drugs to be involved, and that in turn ended the feeling of genuine contact.

“I think the unity originally created in 88 scared a lot of people, it was pointing the energy of youth in a positive rather than negative direction for a change. Violence, theft and confrontation were out, relaxation was in. So many people found new creative directions for their lives and went on to forge new openings for themselves.”

The London native also offers a few sage words of advice for would be club promoters, that still rings true today.

“Clubs have to be careful not to get things out of proportion. Once you go in with the hype, you attract people who want to be seen to be in vogue rather than people who are really in to what you are trying to achieve.”

Amen to that Danny. See you on the floor at the Paradiso! 🙂

[Article taken from Jocks magazine, November 1990. Kudos to mrgee007 for the YouTube upload]

Friday the 13th getting you down? Let the Graeme Park Radio Show lighten the mood…

The latest edition of the Graeme Park Radio Show  is here, so get your groove on for two hours of the tastiest house music…

This week’s show features Chris Isaak, Lisa Stansfield, Luther Vandross, Angelo Ferreri, Seamus Haji, Todd Terry, George Morel, Shakedown, Blaze and more…

Hour 1:

Hour 2:

Turn it up… loud!

Tracklisting, 13 July 2018: [Title (Mix), Artist]

Wicked Game (Jo Manji’s Down At The Beach Edit with Spoken Intro), Chris Isaak
Never Ever (Brian Power Remix), Lisa Stansfield
Fire (Saturday Night Disco Club Mix), Lenny Fontana & Shirley Lites
Get Myself Together (Louie Vega Extended Remix), Luther Vandross
Dancin’, Birdee
Still In Love (Alaia & Gallo Remix), Shuya Okino feat. Navasha Daya
Free Your Mind (New York Groove Mix), The Wizard Brian Coxx & Morsy feat. Darryl D’Bonneau
I’m Surprise (Studioheist Remix), Angelo Ferreri
A Little Sassiness, Sandy Turnbull
Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (Dr Packer Remix), Seamus Haji
Babarabatiri (David Penn Remix), Todd Terry & Gypsymen
Can’t Get Enough! (Dr Packer Extended Remix), Soulsearcher
My Lovin’ (Mike Newman 2018 Mix), Mike Newman
Let’s Groove (StC Mix), George Morel
At Night (Purple Disco Machine Extended Remix), Shakedown
Intro, Moon Rocket
Anytime (Original Mix), Danny Wild & Nataly K
Needin’ U (Dimitri From Paris Remix), The Face vs Mark Brown & Adam Shaw
Most Precious Love (Crazibiza Vocal Club Remix), Blaze presents UDAUFL feat. Barbara Tucker
Tha Yem Is Pumpin’ (Original Mix), Block &Crown & Kaippa
Dance Again, Johnny Fiasco

For more information, visit

THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Orb – Towers Of Dub (1992)

Given that ambient electronica collective The Orb celebrates its 30th anniversary this month, this week’s Throwback Thursday revisits one of Alex Paterson and co’s finest works.

Occupying the entirety of Side C of 1992 double LP U.F. Orb, Towers of Dub kicks off in brilliantly bonkers fashion, with a hoax call to London Weekend Television, asking for Haile Selassie, the long-dead Ethiopian king held up as Jah Incarnate by the Rastafarian movement.

The playfulness continues with a guest appearance from Rags the robot dog from Woody Allen’s Sleeper, reverbed to the max (“Woof, woof, woof! Hello, I’m Rags!”) and some epic harmonica work (by an individual named Marney Pax, according to Discogs), before the infectious, dub-heavy bass kicks in.

Weighing in at an impressive 15 minutes, Towers of Dub is, to me, the very epitome of what The Orb is about – an ethereal soundscape punctuated with laser beams, tinkling pianos and a bassline King Tubby himself would have been proud of.

Also worth a listen is the ‘Ambient mix’ version, which features an extended clip from comedy duo Hudson & Landry, entitled The Hippie & The Redneck. Mental stuff.

Now, where did I leave those Rizzla..?

[Kudos to The Orb-Topic and Huck Toohey for the YouTube uploads]

POSTCARDS FROM 88… James Barton, Cream

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 new 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 an individual that changed the face of clubland (in Liverpool, anyway), with the opening of Cream in 1992… promoter and club owner James Barton.

Embed from Getty Images

Q. Do you remember what you were doing as the Summer of 1988 started?

At some point in the Spring of 88, a friend of mine in London took me to The Trip in the Astoria [Nicky Holloway’s legendary club night], which was my first exposure to a proper, acid house party. It was life changing. I realised very early on that what was happening here was something that was going to dramatically change the music scene in the UK.

Then I went back to Liverpool – I’d been travelling a little bit – and I perhaps stupidly thought that everyone was into this ‘new’ sound. But it was only just catching on; where were all sorts of underground parties, people with basic sound systems setting up in parks or on the beaches around Liverpool.

There was a nightclub in Liverpool called The State, where I used to go a lot. I spoke to the owner, Bernie Start, and said ‘listen, we want to do a party at your club’. It was a strange request; at the time in Liverpool, the idea of an outside promoter coming in to a club to run a night was pretty new, but Bernie knew me because I was a regular there. He agreed to give me a Monday night, and we set about organising Liverpool’s first acid house club night.

I was thinking of contacting Mike Pickering at the Hacienda to see if he would be able to DJ. But unbeknownst to me, Andy and Mike, the two DJs at the club, had actually been buying acid house records from Chicago, New York, and they convinced me to let them be the DJs, so I did.

We opened our first night on September 12, 1988. The night was called Daisy – it was ripped off slighting from Daisy Chain in London [at Brixton’s The Fridge]. I went around town putting up posters, putting stickers on lampposts, talking to all my friends, getting everyone excited. I think we had about 600 people come in, and then it really stemmed on from there.

Acid house steamrollered into Liverpool, and by the end of the year, it was huge.

Q. When or where did you first realise that ‘something different’ was happening with music, particularly dance/club music?

It was an interesting time for Liverpool, as we had just gone through a phase of some really good live bands in the 1980s. But at the same time, it really felt like the city was ready for a change. I guess we were in the right place at the right time.

We had all heard though the grapevine about what was happening in Manchester, with the Hacienda. Tony Wilson, the owner, had a TV show on Granada TV every Friday night, and on he had already started pitching to the northwest about this new genre of music that was coming through.

It wasn’t just in Liverpool either; it was placed like Southport, Ormskirk, Chester, Wrexham. There was definitely a scene bubbling under, but nobody was giving them a night. We came along with this Monday night party and it really connected.

The sad thing is that it connected so well that very quickly a lot of DJs were starting to play dance music in their Friday and Saturday night slots. So what you had was a midweek genre scene being co-opted by the weekend.

Daisy didn’t last that long – about three or four month –  before we shut it down. But by then it was no longer an underground, hidden genre; it was much more accessible and ‘out there’ by the end of 1988/89.

Embed from Getty Images

Q. Was there a particular tune or tunes from the Summer of 1988 that stood out for you?

Dance music in Liverpool at the time went from Salt n Pepa through to Frankie Knuckles and Nitzer Ebb.  I don’t think there were enough tracks coming through from the States, from Chicago or Detroit, to put together a full three or four hour set.

I actually quite liked that, that more eclectic, sort of Balearic vibe. You would have M/A/R/R/S mixed into Blue Monday, mixed into some of the New Beat stuff that was coming out of Belgium.

Q. How do you think the ‘spirit of 88’ changed dance music, and clubbing in general?

In between then and when Cream was founded in 1992, dance music for me felt like it had already gone through its ‘first phase’.

By that point, Liverpool already had a number of different clubs playing dance music – some were geared towards soulful house, some were on a more Balearic vibe, some would just play techno. As a city, Liverpool was really up to date pretty quick.

Then Cream came along, and I look at that as sort of the ‘phase two’ of the development of the club scene. By the time Cream opened, I could see that the club scene had fragmented into all these different genres, and that inclusive vibe of ‘playing a bit of everything’ had gone away.

Cream really set about trying to bring that back: different sounds every week, different DJs every week. DJs that were looking to mix it up somewhat, rather than stick to one genre.

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?

I think the great thing about the dance scene is that it transcends, and travels really well. It touches a lot of different demographics, different age groups and different nationalities. It really does regenerate itself, it does a great job of finding and breaking through new DJs and new producers that have something to say.

It still feels very strong – maybe not as ‘new’ as it did back then, but always changing, always staying fresh.

[Thanks again to James for this week’s interview. Postcards from 88 continues next week. Check out the other interviews in the series by clicking here]

A fresh-faced Fatboy Slim discuses the ‘politics of sampling’… [1989]

One year on from quitting The Housemartins and before he formed Beats International, Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, found moderate chart success with Blame It On The Bassline, a 1989 dance/rap crossover single featuring MC Wildski.

[Wildski – Blame it on the Bassline from Dee Jay on Vimeo.]

As was the fashion of the time (hello Coldcut, Bomb The Bass…), the track was built from samples, most notably The Jacksons’ Blame It On The Boogie.

As (a distinctly fresh-faced) Cook explained in this 1989 interview, the ‘politics of sampling’ is all about acknowledgement of the original source  – both artistically and financially – even if it means having to get the thumbs up from the King of Pop himself…

“My politics of sampling is that if you borrow someone’s sound, it’s like you’re quoting them,” Cook explains.

“In the case of Blame It On The Bassline, we were openly saying, ‘we stole the bassline off Blame It On The Boogie’. If you do that, and you credit the person, and you make sure they get paid, I think that’s fair enough.

“But it’s when you just nick someone else’s idea, and use it and don’t credit them – maybe change one note out of their bassline and pretend you haven’t stolen it. There’s a difference between borrowing something and stealing it.”

As the future Pizzaman explains, moderation is an art that shouldn’t be overlooked either.

“It really depends what you do, if you nick one snare drum, is that really a crime? You might as well have just hit a snare drum.”

Still though, whatever happened to MC Wildski?

[Kudos to TheBestOfVoxPop for the YouTube upload]

Mutts, maracas and mullets… Why the video for Electra’s ‘Jibaro’ is a kitsch classic [August 1988]

Arguably THE quintessential Balearic Beat track of all time, Jibaro, by the Paul Oakenfold-led Electra, was released in August 1988, hitting a high of 54 on the UK Singles chart.

Jibaro was a cover of a track by Colombian duo Elkin and Nelson (not credited on the track’s sleeve), which received regular airplay at KU and other legendary Ibiza nightspots.

The accompanying video (apologies for the poor quality), shot on the White Isle, is a kitsch masterpiece, with maracas, mutts and a truly epic mullet, as showcased by Señor Oakenfold.

Oh, and if you watch the video carefully, you will see that Oakey is actually playing the guitar upside down… how’s that for a subversive statement on the changing nature of the music industry in the late 80s?

It’s also worth a watch for the (all to brief) shots of Ibiza itself, which was yet to become the clubbing Mecca it is today.

The calm before the storm, if you will…

Electra, meanwhile, a project led by Oakenfold, longtime collaborator Steve Osborne, John Rocca (of jazz-funk outfit Freeez) and a couple of their close mates, would only release three singles in total, bowing out with 1990’s Autumn Love.

All together now… “Jibaro! Come on let’s go..!”

[Kudos to Shoomer for the YouTube upload]

Happy Birthday 909originals!

Blow out the candles and crank up the bass! 909originals celebrates its FIRST BIRTHDAY today, and we’d like to thank every single one of our loyal readers for their support over the past 12 months.

Since we kicked this blog off on 7th July last year, we hope that we’ve lived up to our promise of delivering ‘the stories behind the music’, delving deep into the annals of dance and rekindled a few memories along the way.

Here are some of our most popular articles from the last year:

🙂 Alex Paterson of The Orb reflecting on the madness of 1988 …

🙂 Discovering that the original home of Shoom, in London, is up for rent…

🙂 Examining Injected With A Poison’s strange, ecumenical origins…

🙂 Reflecting on the ‘wanton ostentatiousness’ of the EDM scene…

🙂 Remembering Fantazia’s summer soirée in Bournemouth, 26 years later (the most visited post on the site last year)…

🙂 Teaming up up with Hacienda legend Graeme Park

🙂 Rediscovering the insanity of the early Thunderdome gabber commercials

🙂 Remembering the not so halcyon days of cigarettes on the dancefloor

🙂 Our festive countdown of the most incredible intros in dance music history…

🙂 Watching this incredible brass band perform a cover of Laurent Garnier’s Man with the Red Face

And we’re only getting started…! Thanks for all your support guys, and remember, ACID HOUSE WILL NEVER DIE… 🙂

[Photo collage by Photovisi]

Groove through the weekend with the Graeme Park Radio Show..!

The latest edition of the Graeme Park Radio Show  is here, to keep you dancing right through the weekend…

This week’s two hour mix features Maze, Full Intention, Kevin McKay, Raze, NiCe7, Purple Disco Machine, First Choice, Inner City, Seduction, Soulsearcher, Harry Romero, Eli Escobar and more….

Hour 1:

Hour 2:

Turn it up… loud!

Tracklisting, 6 July 2018: [Title (Mix), Artist]

Twilight (The Sybarites New Dawn Remix), Maze
The Ghetto, DJ James Ingram
Simply Living, Full Intention
Moobie Storm Chasers (Original Mix), Timmy P
Live Ur Life (Escalade Edit), Ant La Rock & Michael Moog
The Oooh Song (David Penn Remix), Kevin McKay
Run & Hide (House Mix), Kevin McKay
Break 4 Love (Archie B Remix), Raze
Real Love (Original Mix), Nice7
Rock Me, Johnny Fiasco
Dished (Male Stripper) (Original Mix), Purple Disco Machine
How U Make Me Feel (Original Mix), Luca Debonaire
Needin’ U (Dimitri From Paris Remix), The Face vs Mark Brown & Adam Shaw
Doctor Love (WhiteNoize Remix), First Choice
Beat Jumpin’, Chewy Rubs
Tha Yem Is Pumpin’ (Original Mix), Block & Crown & Kaippa
Big Fun (Matt Smallwood Extended Remix), Kevin Saunderson presents Inner City
Better Days (Doorly Remix), House Of Virus & Jimi Polo
Back To The Beat/The Sound (Original 12″ Mix), Reese & Santonio
Stand By Me (Dub), Julian “Jumpin'” Perez
(You’re My One & Only) True Love (New York House Mix), Seduction
Can’t Get Enough! (Illyus & Barrientos Extended Club Refix), Soulsearcher
Can You Feel It? (Steve Bug Re-Dub), Chez Damier
Revolution (Deep In Jersey Extended Mix), Harry Romero
Interlude 3, Eli Escobar

For more information, visit

The story behind Music for the Jilted Generation’s iconic inner sleeve… [July 1994]

The Prodigy’s Music for the Jilted Generation was released 24 years ago today, on 4 July 1994, and while the album itself would go on to make rave history, the album’s artwork, in particular the inner sleeve, would prove to be a major talking point…

The iconic image, by artist Les Edwards, was seen by many as an artistic nod to the UK’s Criminal Justice Bill of the same year, which famously banned the hosting of events featuring music “characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”.

Indeed, less than two weeks after the album’s release, some 50,000 ravers marched from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square to protest the Bill, captured here in this article by Vice.

The album is full of nods to the rebellious spirit of the time as well, from the spoken word phrase before opener Break & Enter (“So, I’ve decided to take my work back underground … to stop it falling into the wrong hands”) to the crushing apolitical sentiment of Their Law.

As for the ‘Jilted Generation’ of the album’s title… well, it’s obvious, innit?

But as The Prodigy’s musical maestro Liam Howlett told Clash in 2014, the artwork chosen for the album was mere coincidence, having been chosen long before the Criminal Justice Bill reared its ugly head.

“There was that whole ‘fight the party’ thing at the time,” he explained, “you know, that bill. And we got roped into that. But it’s funny, because the inside cover art, that’s just a coincidence. Nobody knows that.

“But people read into it, that it was connected to that protest. But it’s not at all – it’s just what we wanted on the cover.”

As for the artist himself, Les Edwards, who had previously prepared artwork for artists as diverse as Metallica, Uriah Heep and Monty Python?

As he explained in a 2014 interview with Dazed, the message portrayed by the artwork wasn’t of a particular time or place, it was more a timeless study of youth in rebellion.

“I’m something of an old hippy, but it seems to me to be the same message you’d heard in the 1960s, people criticising governments for being tyrannical,” he explained.

“I don’t remember the 1990s as being a particularly repressive time, but if you were Liam and Keith’s age, perhaps you felt differently. Rave culture was going on, and people just disapproved. There was a bit of concern about the drug culture, but in a lot of instances, the police were so heavy handed. Things haven’t changed there.”

So, what do you think? Was the choice of imagery accidental or on purpose? Either way, as if we needed an excuse to give the album another listen.

Happy birthday Music For The Jilted Generation! 🙂