A little video set me off – were the atmospheres of clubs more intense with harder attacking music in the early and mid 90s and was this perhaps due to more prevalent drug taking and poly-use? Quite possibly, changes in trends and developments in the British Island’s drug market definitely affected dance floors. After the revelation of Ecstasy and the drop in quality ravers needed to simulate those halycon days
The video that set me off on this ramble is an interview between Daniel Avery – (who ive written about and interviewed before here for Clash Music ) and an early favorite producer Justin Robertson. A happy coincidence that this young producer should end up working in such esteemed company ..anyway digressing
The vid is short and I hope that the Ransom Note will put up more of their discussion as it only hints at a bigger discussion about drug use in clubs and the crossover between the dance and rock worlds that influenced these two and largely most of the music Ive followed for the last 20 years
In the interview it touches on the subject of atmospheres created, abetted or hindered by drugs in clubs. Justin Robertson notes that speed use was more prevalent in the 90s. Many people including myself used incredibly strong paste speed or Base to top up and prolong our E high, a wrap of billy , couple of gary ablets and a Louis or Henry of decent punk were your standard consumption on a Friday or Saturday night across the UK- listening to Packet Of Peace this was a personal favorite for preparing for the weekend onslaught special significance as the packet of peace represented (to me anyway) the ‘phet needed to keep going.
Packet of Peace ( Chemical Bros Remix ) is a great example of the rise of the sound of break-beat combined with techno or Big Beat as it was to become known and lambasted. The Chems pretty much pioneered this sound along with Underworld label mates on Junior Boys Own connections being label mates with the Chemical Brothers on early releases and signed by fellow Boys Own fanzine, Label boss Faith creator and super producer Terry Farley ) along with Orbital they made a very special British chimera that was so good for vigorous red faced gibbon dancing and will lead me to t talk about breaks or Big Beat further on although much of that sound ,to me was a watering down of the formula especially with the imitators that were to come such as Norman Cook ( bar Rennie Pilgrim , Zinc and quite a few other producers but no time for discussing that here!)
the formula …a simple idea of tracks filled with rock-style verse/chorus/verse flows, breakbeat samples and the build/drop format found in house music combined with a massive wibling 303 , put in plenty of drops for rush inducing = Big Beat Banger – alot of big beat was rubbish and latterly breaks became a monotonous background music for mindless drug taking for pasty people with dreadlocks and musty fawn colored fibres and utility belts (admit it those are just drug bum bags ) But that era was yet to come…
but not to steam roller over all breaks or dare i say it trip hop / big beat Andrew Weatheral with studio partner Keith Tenniswood produced some great tracks as Two Lone Swordsmen and many other aliases as Radioactiveman
and if there is a greater hymn to cold shivering comedowns I dont know what – cover from your lover …
Excuse me now as I assault you with tracks linked in some way to the triangle of Junior Boys Own and Weatherall and my own Bournemouthian house schooling ….Lord Sabre in effect here on the Chemicals first release for Junior Boys own – damn it I used to own this
– bought from Flying Records in Bournemouth I believe Flying had shops in London and maybe Brighton there’s little written about this great mini chain Ive been reliably informed by the most excellent Paul Byrne of Apiento That was owned by Charlie Chester and run by Rocky from Rocky and Diesel ( another tape fave much copied in Bournemouth ) and X-press 2 fame
video evidence of Rocky and Diesel having it large with ravers on industrial strength garys …
there;s the Junior Boys Own network again … anyway – big up to Sam Blay for keeping all his flyers and running the excellent Geriatric ravers Site Flying was one of many great record shops in Bournemouth and had great links to Boys Own stocking the fanzine and of course many Junior Boys own releases and generally was a focal point for the kids (flyer collecting rat bags who rarely bought anything ) , diggers, ravers , promoters and visiting djs. Not Forgotten !
one of the tracks I did manage to scrape some paper round money for and a fave down at Juicy Fruit Madisons Fire Island – There But For The Grace Of God ( Farley and Heller naturally ) ) I remember a certain Jay from Jac The Disco having this – Jays still playing out at many a discerning disco and acid house night in London and the West and has just started building up an analog arsenal to make his own dark materials … looking forward to those!
of note jays partner in crime with Jac the Disco is and was Pac from the excellent keepers of the flame Legendary Children who recently were rocking and shocking for the shoom 25th anniversary at Cabel – big up all Bournemouth Dorset Devon Somerset anti utility tool belt wearing cacker raver in the area!
Fire Island produced by Farley and Heller and remixed by themselves under another guise Roach Motel this is one of the best soulful house tracks of its time and still stands up today with a deep US feel which kept the gurners of Bournemouth happy and probably eased a few cheesy quavers into accepting big gay house vibes ( it worked on me definitely and almost cured me of my love for mickey mouse squeaky hardcore ) it has that familiar Sweet Harmony piano riff – nicked from Ce Ce Rodgers and mad to think that this would of been cained by DJs like Roger Sanchez and Junior Vasquez to big muscle Marys in New York after being made in a moldy old studio somewhere near slough ( maybe ? wild speculation!)
whilst discussing Junior Boys Own I must mention that this epic from the aforementioned X-press 2 member Ashley Beedle under his Black Science Orchestra guise though very indulgent this is a one long beautiful work out in disco and house inspired by the great disco producer Walter Gibbons . a filtered classic this was a brilliant marriage of disco and house and that rare thing a brilliant long player for home or club pleasure you can put on and not find one duffer
So the Drugs…. the speed to be found on the streets of Britain and most sought after was base – unfinished and raw complete with a disgusting stench and foul tasting first the unbelievable energy flash and enthusiam for everything then the long dawn and day filled with inner self hatred. it was very easy to misjudge a big disgusting blob wrapped in a rizla in a darkened club. I can still taste it yurrgghh!!
The rise of a cold fetid grey morning dreading the prospect of a grim Saturday working at Sainsburys in Boscombe still causes a mild flash of anxiety.. After a few teenage years of use every other weekend I vowed to never try it again…however it seems speed is back or never went away in Germany and Austria
Recently here in Austria Ive sampled very pure speed with a lot of trepidation – a friend said you can take a little and have a very small buzz and I did and found it most agreeable and never like the rollercoaster high and then spirit crushing low
Taking little bumps and feeling most agreeable at a night with mike simonetti put on by the Tingle Tangle club – in the beautiful but troubled rote bar of the volks theatre ( a great venue which is sadly run by idiots ) however my high was upset and I got noticeably more aggressive as the bar staff kept turning on the lights to serve people and after many attempts by the promoter, their friends and even Mike Simonetti himself to get the dicks to turn down the house lights off I lost it in a speedy rage and started effing and jeffing at the bar staff, waggling my fist ( impudent fury!) and bugging out at them met some great people that night but the night was tarred by those effing dicks from Rote Bar .. Left in an impudent fury and vowed to never set foot in that shithole again!
Thinking back I didn’t feel that high, but I must of looked like a nut as the barman called for back up …so since then I’ve have steered clear of any phets ! What was interesting was that there was very little comedown nothing more than a hangover really and thankfully I’m more in control and able to turn down the offer of narcotics – Ive had lots of friends wind up with serious drug problems and am thankful I’ve never gone too far gone.
Digressing… Around 92 – 95 Ecstasy was becoming less pure and more people were resorting to speed to keep their high going, not to mention Amyl as well as an extra rush inducing part of the weekend munition. Packet Of Peace perfectly encapsulates those frazzled times and is an underrated Chemical Brothers remix. The insane synth wibbling and the pounding break-beats indicates the Chemical Brothers at their peak and The breakdown sounds almost like a minimal Techno track ala Maurizio around the 5.40 mark.
Here’s Basic Channel Maurizio – dubby techno where we can see the roots of minimal beginning – zzzzzzz well this is a fine record but cant lie that alot of minimal was and is just snooze A’clock for me …its rise indicated what I would call the dark days of mediocrity ..
One of the interesting Things about Lionrock; Justin Robertson’s live and studio incarnation is that touring the album An Instinct For Detection he took out a full band for this ska ,Breakbeat, Dub rock techno fusion , something of a coup at the time and a blueprint for many other bands rooted in club music who made the leap from club to festival field take for instance Orbital and Leftfields triumphant live shows ..
Dont Die Foolish sounds like a goat rampaging through a Medina after mistakenly nibbling on a temple ball
heavy heavy lovely distortion rooted in Dub it could almost be the Mad Professor
but notice that bassline ? its very similar to another bigbeat tune / breakbeat – one that escapes me now – all i can remember is a sample from woodstock “from Now its a free concert ” ahhhh it is of course Death In Vegas Dirt – Death In Vegas a big influence on Daniel Avery as mentioned in my interview …
Speaking of polydrug use as mentioned early Skunk weed was making its presence felt in Britain around 92 -93 after being grown in San Franciso in the early 80s a grower made their way to Holland where the cafe and production scene were ‘ahem’ growing and began in earnest creating the strain of Cannabis most widely smoked today .
The creeping paranoia and skittering dub that accompanied the descent from the early 90s ( advanced developments in hydroponics and super strains of marijuana were becoming more available to common entry level space cadets and soon people were making the jump from smoking shite soap bar to high grade northern lights in one creamy bucket pull and not realizing until it was all too evident in talking dogs and dancing curtains in suburban and inner city bedrooms across the UK and a million terrible chill out albums and coffee table groups such as Morcheeba and Zero 7.
High grade marijuana usage is evident in Lord Sabre’s work as the Sabres Of Paradise as you can hear here from this Panning head phone classic below Tow Truck – Sabres Of paradise where my second favorite Weatherall project after Primal Scream and I would go so far as saying that he gave the group the real direction and realization they needed along with Creation records cash and attitude to Creative Freedom.
Primal Scream acted as a gateway to lead me to discover On U sound and Adrian Sherwood, Renegade Soundwave ,Lionrock ,Chemical Brothers ,Laurent Garneier , Jah Wobble , The Orb,The Aloof,Aphex Twin ,Leftfield, Death In Vegas, Orbital and Underworld and its no small co incidence that all of these great British musicians (and in the case of Laurent Garnier an honorary Brit ) and thanks to magazines such as Select , Vox , The Herb Garden , Melody Maker and Jockey Slut which upheld these musicians and helped to bring them to a wider audience- REMEMBER THIS WAS PRE INTERNET and before shite internet drugs!
Alot of the musicians are are linked in some way and quite often the conduit is the involvement with Weatherall or a friend thereof . They are all rooted in smoky dub. ( other people have explored and said it much more prosaically especially Simon Reynolds )
Now at the risk of sounding like 90s baseball cap enthusiast Dave Pierce I Bid you to roll a phat one and stick some headphones on and enjoy the above mentioned panning
Now back to the classic and indomitable Andrew Weatherall he is of course still cranking out the dubbed, drugged and ‘drubbed on the ships deck’ futuristic space sea shanty music at a rate of knots (I cant stop these puns they keep pouring out of me !!! gahaha!!) and worked on young Daniel Avery’s productions with Timothy J Fairplay in their mysterious bunker and they ( Wevvers and former member of Battant Timothy J Fairplay) just put out a new album as The Asphodells- Ruled By Passion, Destroyed By Lust. I for one as a slavering Weatherall gimp.
cant wait to get a copy of said album the only thing Ive heard from it is Love From Outer Space a cover of the AR KANE track which is a Balearic Classic with its tropical noises and rush inducing pianos and ecstactic vocals
speaking of AR Kane I’ve only just found out that Colour Box recorded with AR Kane as M/A/R/R/S to produce the number one stone cold classic Pump Up The Volume – possibly one of the most culturally important records that heralded the era of sampling
they never worked again under that moniker or as Colourbox shortly after being swamped in litigation from sample clearances including a heavy lawsuit from Pete waterman of Stock Aitken and Waterman infamy – it wasnt exactly like they needed the money …. 10 % of british pop output! over to Noel Edmonds at the Royal Albert hall
they were responsible for this example of sophistipop which is an example of a track so overloaded with naffness but just …. an undeniable banger
right enough of that yuppie crap! anyway here is the rather beautiful and otherworldly Colour Box
and here they are in Brilliant shimmering Dub with a cover of Augustus Pablo…. BLESS! more sampledelic loveliness Primal Screams Vanishing point owes a lot to the style of film samples – here they use Escape From New York but wait … ah yes produced by Andrew Weatherall ! thats not a disparagement in that’s a continuation of this great British dubbing tradition – or rather sampling and nicking stuff and making a version of – colonial bastards tradition
Notes on Vanishing point ….The Vid for Kowalski
features a young Kate Moss and Devon Aoki half sister of electro twonk and sometime man of good taste Steve Aoki ( well he did put out a record by Whitey so he cant be all bad.) shame they didnt run him over in the video – and there’s also Irvine welsh. My cup runneth over…. speaking of Whitey compare this
who was influencing who ? given that they might of been recording within miles or minutes of each other ? they both have that dread laothing dirty funk encrusted low bass growl and fuzzed up vox that spells NARCOTICS
A Love From Outer Space the track that inspired the slowed down events or just gave it a name ? – He’s still rooted in Dub and Dub production techniques and a deep longing for space…
as you can hear here
you can get the Asphodells Album on order from Japan or wait til Feb and get it from the rotters golf club
and that concludes this roundabout ramble through Drug usage in the 90s , Junior Boys Own and the roots from it , Weatherall , Justin Robertson , Daniel Avery ,Chemical Brothers, Big Beat, ColourBox MARRS , Whitey and even Swing Out Sister – now that’s what I call Balearic! . Phew thanks for hanging in there !
speaking of which check out this mix sammy made – sad bliss !