POSTCARDS FROM 88… Tony Cannon

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’ comes from one of northern England’s acid house heroes, who helped put Blackburn on the musical map both for his appearances at the city’s now infamous warehouse parties in the late 80s, as well as for his residency at Minstrels: Tony Cannon.

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

I was just 19 in 1988 and had never listened to such a wide spectrum of music. Acid house had dropped and gone boom! Traveling to Manchester to Eastern Bloc and Spin Inn Records to buy the latest music from Chicago, Detroit, Europe and beyond, sometimes twice a week or more, was all I cared about.

Myself and my pal Dave Taylor (of SoulDeep Inc) were often being told by then Eastern Bloc co-founder and original 808 State band member Martin Price that we often picked up tunes before the Hacienda DJs had them.

We ended up being asked to spin our records on Steve Barker’s Sunday afternoon BBC Radio Lancashire On The Wire show after being recommended by local DJ and promoter Ronnie Brown. This was a real big deal for two kids from Blackburn, and, ironically, 808 State joined us in the BBC studio that day for an interview with Steve Barker.

The first rumblings of the Blackburn warehouse parties were about to surface, and they were small – some in a small space not much bigger than a garage on the side of a house! We would spin our newly acquired tunes on the supplied, inferior DJ equipment.

This is how we spent our time plying our trade on a weekend in the summer of 1988; spinning tunes before the likes of A Guy Called Gerald and 808 State for their planned live performances in Blackburn. The summer was certainly warming up.

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

This must be Ronnie Brown and Dave Hamer’s acid house night every Thursday at C’est la Vie nightclub in Blackburn. The dancing was psychedelic, the clothes were baggy, and the sound of the Roland 303 ran round and round in your head.

The sound was a mixture of European and Balearic beats with a sprinkling of disco…the music was mesmerising. This place wasn’t the first place to play this kind of music in the north of England however, it certainly wasn’t far behind. Youngsters had been to the big cities and heard this music and wanted to experience it in their own town and this is exactly what happened.

We had gone through the Joy Division/ New Order period and dabbled with what we called ‘modern soul’ and ‘pre-house’ from Manchester and other big cities, hip hop also, but this was different. We had never heard anything like this before.

It wasn’t only the music that was changing either, in fact, so were the people exposed to it. You’ve heard the stories of football firms forgetting their gripes, and for a short while living in peace together. Well, it really did happen. Even various parts of the town which would usually be at it hammer and tongs would party together at the weekend without any concerns.

The music changed peoples attitudes for a while. Unfortunately, it didn’t last, but just shows how powerful the second summer of love in 1988 really was.

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

There was so much music around in 1988 and it was diverse. As far as the acid house memories go, well, it must be the Fast Eddie productions coming out of Chicago: Acid Thunder, Can You Still Dance and Jack the House.

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?

While I’m not a fan of the term ‘old school’, this is a good question. It appears that anybody with any knowledge of dance music knows that certain modern DJ’s back in the day were considered fabulous DJ’s and producers but are now largely ignored by serious dance music lovers. So, we look back. This leads us to believe modern dance music is of low quality and the youth of today looks in the past for answers.

The late 1980s was an interesting time, not only in terms of music, but also fashion and youth culture. All this came to a head in around 1988. In my opinion, this had been coming for a while. As mentioned I had seen the football ‘acid ted’ and the New Order fanatics flirt with modern soul and clubland long before this period.

Moreover, I’m not entirely sure there has been anything like it since. The dreadful slow and painful mutation of our beloved underground music has not helped the cause – and has only appeared to recover in recent years. Hence, the desperate need to reminisce or indeed research – asking dad: “what was it really like”?

Q. If the ‘you’ from 1988 could give the ‘you’ from 2018 a piece of music-related advice, what would it be?

That’s a hard question. However, a great conclusion, I’ll give it my best shot: Try to look forward and not back. Backwards is not the way you are going. Embrace the advance of technology and use it wisely and not foolishly.

You might not be as happy to play vinyl much now, but you can still play quality music to the people. Don’t get bogged down with nostalgia. Keep looking for new music and artists and don’t be brainwashed in to being told what to listen to by mainstream media. We didn’t do that then and I don’t expect you to do it now.

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

Tony De Vit passed away 20 years ago today… [July 1998]

Tony De Vit, architect of the hard house/trance sound that permeated the UK club scene in the late 90s and 2000s, died 20 years ago today, 2 July 1998, at the age of just 40.

It was De Vit, having established himself as an accomplished DJ at gay clubs Heaven and Trade that helped take the Hi-NRG influenced sound into the mainstream, with tracks such as Burning Up, To The Limit and the hard house classic The Dawn, the latter released posthumously.

Here’s an interview with De Vit from January 1997, which featured in Mixmag.

He was also the first name that label upstart Boxed turned to for the debut of the now-legendary Global Underground series, Global Underground GU001 Live in Tel Aviv, released in 1996.

De Vit would also follow ‘Tel Aviv’ with the fifth in the series, Global Underground GU005: Tokyo, a year later.

As indie mag NME put it on the occasion of his death back in 1998, ‘Away from the fashionable breakbeats and drum & bass of the Big Beat Boutique and Metalheadz, De Vit was responsible for a real revolution in clubland. 

‘It was his phenomenal mixing ability and ability to “read” a dancefloor that took the ferociously hard and fast “nu energy” techno sound out of the London gay scene and onto the straight dancefloors of Britain and the world.’ RIP Tony.

[Kudos to Francisco Criollo and earthspark78 for the YouTube uploads]

It’s Friday, which can mean only one thing… the Graeme Park Radio Show!

Something for the weekend? The latest instalment of the weekly Graeme Park Radio Show  has just landed and it’s a good un…

This week’s two hour mix features Hall & Oates, Charlotte Gainsbourg, David Penn, Doug Willis, Loleatta Holloway, George Morel, Seamus Haji, Blaze, Todd Terry, Kevin McKay, and more.

Hour 1:

Hour 2:

Turn it up… loud!

Tracklisting, 29 June 2018: [Title (Mix), Artist]

I Can’t Go For That (Jo Manji’s Italo Disco Mix), Hall & Oates
Sylvia Says (Mind Enterprises Remix), Charlotte Gainsbourg
Montu (Paul Woolford Remix), PBR Streetgang feat. Ron Basejam
Losing You, David Penn
Anytime (Original Mix), Danny Wild & Nataly K
Risky Biznizz (Joey Negro Bionic House Mix), Doug Willis
Dancin’, Birdee
No Control, Jem Atkins vs Laura Branigan
(Crash Goes Love) I Need You (James K & State Unknown 2018 Summer Dub Remix), Loleatta Holloway
Let’s Groove (StC Mix), George Morel
So What?, Tim Deluxe
Intro, Moon Rocket
Can’t Get Enough! (Dr Packer Extended Remix), Soulsearcher
Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (Dr Packer Remix), Seamus Haji
Most Precious Love (Crazibiza Vocal Club Remix), Blaze presents UDAUFL feat. Barbara Tucker
Babarabatiri (David Penn Remix), Todd Terry & Gypsymen
My Lovin’ (Mike Newman 2018 Mix), Mike Newman
Your Body, Sharam Jey
Feel The Vibe, Crazibiza
Love On My Mind, Kevin McKay & CASSIMM
Dance (Kerri Chandler’s Centro Fly Mix), EP2
Walking On Sunshine (Full Intention Remix), Rockers Revenge
Break 4 Love (Archie B Remix), Raze
Something Going On (Sonny Wharton Remix), Todd Terry feat. Jocelyn Brown, Martha Wash & Roland Clark

For more information, visit thisisgraemepark.com

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Ben Klock – Musical Rush (1998)

Of all the artists playing Awakenings in Amsterdam this weekend, one of the biggest draws will undoubtedly be Ben Klock, who closes the Saturday night in the Area Y arena.

What many attendees will not be aware of, however, is that this year is a notable one for the Berlin native, marking 20 years since he entered the world of production, having released the distinctly housey Clockworks EP back in 1998.

The standout track on the EP is Musical Rush, a low-key house groover akin to the work of Etienne de Crecy or Alex Gopher; a world away from the harder sound he has since become famous for.

The record was released under the pseudonym ‘Ben E. Clock’, back when Klock was the resident at Berlin nightclub Cookies, which closed in 2014.

As Klock himself put it on his Facebook page, ahead of playing the final night at the club, “So tomorrow I’m playing one last time at Cookie’s, which is closing soon after 20 years! That’s where everything started. I played almost every Tuesday night during the 90’s in a couple of locations, the first one held probably only 30 people on the dance floor.

“So 20 years later instead of using clichés like funny how time flies and I never expected to be where I am now, I’ll just say: Congratulations and thank you, Cookie’s!”

See you down the front at Awakenings, Ben!

[Kudos to Mr Weng for the YouTube upload. Photo taken from Ben Klock’s Facebook page]

 

POSTCARDS FROM 88… Gez Varley, LFO

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’ comes from a producer who alongside the late Mark Bell (RIP), was a pioneering force in techno in the early 90s: LFO’s Gez Varley.

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

Yeah, in ’88 I started my group, LFO. I managed to get hold of a Casio sampler and a cheap keyboard (Jen SX-1000), and also a 808 drum machine, so for most of that summer i was jamming at home and learning how to program and write music. At the time, I remember the amazing acid house tracks that were coming out, and i wanted to make music like this.

As for the club scene, I used to sneak in at the Warehouse Club as a few of my mates were residents there: Roy Archer and Martin Williams, who went on to join LFO with  me and Mark Bell in ’89.

Also at that time, I was only 17, so getting into clubs was a bit tricky. We also went to a few illegal parties in the Chapletown area of Leeds, which was a big influence on the LFO track… the heavy bass.

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

In 1987 I went to London with a mate of mine from Ikley, Graham Dixon, who’s also a DJ. We were into hip hop, so were were looking for some new tunes to buy.

One day, we walked into Groove Records, and they were playing Acid Trax from Phuture… the record just blew us away! That really was the start of ‘techno’ for me.

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

There was just so much good stuff coming out then but It Is What It Is by Rhythim Is Rhythim really stood out for me.

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 years from ’87 to ’94 were the groundbreaking days for techno and acid house. Today, the styles and production have got better, however there are no new ideas at all, so I guess people making music now are looking back in time for ideas and inspiration.

You’d be surprised how many people still buy the early LFO stuff. I think personally, when I look back, it was an amazing time for music, fashion, clubs ( legal or illegal ) and even for music technology.

Q. If the ‘you’ from 1988 could give the ‘you’ from 2018 a piece of music-related advice, what would it be?

Keep on going and never stop..! I think all of us from that time would never have imagined that this music would last for so long.

[Thanks again to Gez for taking part. Postcards from 88 continues next week.]

The Chemical Brothers’ Exit Planet Dust was released on this day in 1995… check out this rare interview [June 1995]

As debut albums go, The Chemical Brothers’ Exit Planet Dust takes some beating – from the big beat stylings of Leave Home through to the psychedelic masterpiece Alive Alone, it set the tone for the duo’s later work, with Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons showing no signs of slowing down after more than 25 years in the game.

Released on this day (26 June), in 1995, the album was in part a response to the growing presence of Britpop in the music mainstream; Pulp’s Common People had just neared number one, while Oasis, Blur and their ilk were mainstays of the pop charts.

As Ed told Muzik magazine shortly before the album’s release, “Nobody from the dance world has come up with an album to reflect these times. Why is that? Why is it left to a group like Oasis to express the way that young people want to go out and get battered every weekend? That’s what The Chemical Brothers are about”.

The album is also a masterclass in sampling artistry: a snippet of Kraftwerk’s Ohm Sweet Ohm opens the album, Song To The Siren nods to Dead Can Dance, and In Dust We Trust borrows from the Beastie Boys.

Check out this rare interview with MTV Party Zone’s Simone Angel, recorded at Tribal Gathering 1995, which took place the month before the album’s release, where the (clearly sober!) duo discuss their name change (from The Dust Brothers), the politics of sampling, and their next move, a possible David Bowie remix.

“We’re just too scared of him,” Tom explains. “He’s too much of an imposing figure to go for lunch with, to sort it out. […] It’s a bit scary meeting an icon, just like that.”

Happy birthday Exit Planet Dust!

There’s a heatwave on the way… let’s take house music on to the streets!

With a heatwave reportedly on the way, isn’t it about time that the local authorities here looked to bring something like THIS over to these shores?

These weekly ‘house music parties’ take place on a sun-drenched Daley Plaza in Chicago, underlining the city’s status as the undoubted home of the musical genre.

Resident DJ Houseboy is filmed spinning everything from Lil Louis’ The Original Video Clash to Green Velvet’s It’s Time For The Percolator during the short clip (in fact, his haircut isn’t dissimilar to that of Mr. Velvet, either), in what looks like the most enjoyable way to spend a sunny lunchtime this side of Ibiza.

“Everybody is in a good mood,” Houseboy explains. “We just wanna have a good time!”

Amen to that!

[Kudos to CBS Chicago for the YouTube upload]

Ok, forget ‘Electrica Salsa’, THIS is my new favourite mid-80’s Sven Väth masterpiece… [September 1986]

As dance music memes go, Sven Väth’s Electrica Salsa takes some beating.

The video for the track, recorded during Sven’s period as the lead vocalist in German pop group OFF (Organisation For Fun) is a stonewall classic: nonsense lyrics – “Ba-ba, ba Baaa!” – a bierkeller full of confused Germans, and an iconic part where Sven gets groovy with a robot (check out 1:50).

But the same year Sven hit the big time, he recorded a track with OFF bandmates Luca Anzilotti and Michael Münzing (who would later go on to form Snap!), who were performing under the name 16-Bit.

I argue that their debut single tops even Electrica Salsa in terms of nostalgic Euro brilliance.

The video for Where Are You?, which seems to be set in the Medieval Zone of the Crystal Maze, kicks off with Sven pulling off some serious shapes in a black tunic, as a sombre-looking Anzilotti looms in the background.

At around 1:49, however, the track really gets going, as the spoken word dialogue begins – “I know the remedy for your sickness!” – with a clearly perturbed Sven responding in kind, “Where are you?”

It’s a New Beat masterpiece, and we reckon it still has the power to wreck the dancefloor (perhaps with a stronger 4/4 and a bit of mastering).

As for Sven… well, as we all know, the artist we now lovingly know as ‘Papa’ is doing just fine. 🙂

[Kudos to Benito Benites and alexosg for the YouTube uploads]

Got that Friday Feeling? Here’s the Graeme Park Radio Show!

Having fun in the sun this weekend? The latest instalment of the Graeme Park Radio Show is here to get you ready, set, go!

This week’s two hour mix features Kylie, Soulsearcher, Purple Disco Machine, Blaze, Eric B & Rakim, Soul II Soul, Riva Starr, Kevin McKay, Ultra Naté and more.

Hour 1:

Hour 2:

Turn it up… loud!

Tracklisting, 22 June 2018: [Title (Mix), Artist]

Stop Me From Falling (Cerrone Remix Main Mix), Kylie
Rock Me, Johnny Fiasco
Can’t Get Enough! (Illyus & Barrientos Extended Last Boogie Mix), Soulsearcher
Here & Now (Angelo Ferreri Remix), KORT feat. Sejal
Dished (Male Stripper) (Original Mix), Purple Disco Machine
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
Move Out Of My Way, Dennis Quin & Shermanology
Your Body (Original Mix), Sharam Jey
Side 2 Side, Blazers
Samurai (Rubedo Walker & Dante Walker Remix), Deep City Soul
Computer Game (“Theme From The Circus”)/Firecracker, Yellow Magic Orchestra
Paid In Full, Eric B & Rakim
Jungle Fever, Chakachas
My Lovin’, En Vogue
Back To Life, Soul II Soul feat. Caron Wheeler
The Word, Junkyard Band
Fascinating Rhythm, Bass-o-matic
Housepital, Riva Starr feat. Dajae
Schoolyard Daze, Kevin McKay
French Kiss, Stefano Noferini
Better Days (Doorly Remix), House Of Virus & Jimi Polo
Free (Ibitaly Remix), Ultra Naté

For more information, visit thisisgraemepark.com

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Noel Gallagher – Teotihuacan [June 1998]

“What’s all this?,” you cry. “Noel Gallagher? What could HE possibly know about dance music?”

Quite a bit actually. As well as teaming up with The Chemical Brothers twice (on Setting Sun and Let Forever Be), the former Oasis songsmith and current High Flying Bird also worked with Goldie, UNKLE, and in 1998 dropped an unexpected trip-hop bomb at the back end of The X-Files movie soundtrack, Teotihuacan.

The track, which landed less than a year after the cocaine-fuelled third Oasis album, Be Here Now (no track less than five minutes long, talk about self-indulgence!), was reportedly influenced by a trip Gallagher and the band took to Mexico, indeed, photos of Noel atop an Aztec temple (perhaps Teotihuacan itself) can be found on social media.

Commencing with the sound of rainfall and a brooding, building trip hop rhythm, it’s certainly unlike anything in the Oasis back catalogue, and pointed to a potential new direction for the band. Ok, it’s not up there with anything on Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, released the same year, but as new avenues go, it was an admirable, exciting diversion*.

One thing’s for certain, it was a LOT more memorable than the movie it accompanied. 🙂

Sadly, the Oasis album that followed, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, only contained hints of Noel’s new musical boundaries – it’s there on Gas Panic!, a track reportedly influenced by Noel’s decision to give up cocaine, and also, perhaps on the album’s opener, Fuckin in the Bushes.

Oasis would persevere for another four albums, finally fizzling out in 2008 – rumours of a reunion still abound – but 20 years on, Noel Gallagher’s Teotihuacan stands alone, an indication of where the greatest Britpop band of the 90s could, and perhaps should, have gone next.

*Teotihuacan would eventually be deconstructed and reworked as the backing track for Keep What Ya Got by Ian Brown, on 2004’s Solarized – check it out here. Given that Oasis borrowed much of their swagger from The Stone Roses, it’s somewhat apt that Noel thought to return the favour some years later.

[Kudos to SP00KYMULD3R for the YouTube upload]