Tuesday, July 21, 2015

deejaying memories #1

St John's College, Oxford -  scene of my greatest memory of deejaying and my worst

Me and  Paul Oldfield - my best friend and Monitor co-founder/editor-in-chief - partnered in a "DJ company" that went by various names, including - pardon my cringe - Apocalypso.

Despite our nifty-looking, Paul-designed flyer, we secured very few engagements - mostly they involved us playing modern music, club music, 80s electrofunk imports of the kind that David Stubbs marginally more successfully deejayed to a mostly not--very-appreciative student audience at his weekly night The Meltdown

One time we got a gig doing a Sixties night, though

I was more into garage punk; Paul was more into freakbeat.

That said, that night we mostly played fairly well-known Sixties beat and mod type tunes, weaving in the odd garage or freakbeat obscurity

In the course of the night I dropped this



"You Can Make It" sounded phenomenal on a big(gish) system, in that large hall - with that huge stompy drum beat.

And gratifyingly the kids went wild to it.

What thrilled me was the idea of British  kids in 1985 dancing to a record that quite possibly hadn't ever been played in the U.K. on a dance floor -  might indeed have last been played in a club in America in 1967  - and even then, not very often, since the single was a flop, unlike their other single






That was a great buzz, and overall the night went well - better than our usual engagements.

One thing marred the night, though.

This boy kept approaching the booth with a request.

"Can you play Power Station, 'Get It On'?"

I loathed the song. Didn't have the single. And besides, this was a Sixties theme night.

"Don't have that, sorry. Also, this is a Sixties night."

He came back after about fifteen minutes.

"Go on. Power Station. Play it." His tone both pleading and assertive.

"I told you - I don't have it. Also - This. Is. A. Sixties. Night."

About ten minutes after the latest approach /rebuff, a tremendous sulphorous stench enveloped the deejay booth. I realised that the young man -  clearly believing that despite our protestations we possessed the record but were withholding it out of spite - had gone back to his room  - where he kept an arsenal of stinkbombs for purposes unknown -  and then stamped on a couple of the little yellow vials directly in front of the turntables.

Or perhaps he was a chemistry student and cooked up something special on the spur of the moment.

We soldiered on, spinning "You Really Got Me", "See Emily Play", "Psychotic Reactions", The Sorrows's "Take A Heart" etc as the reek slowly dissipated.

4 comments:

Daze Of Reality said...

Interested to hear more of your deejaying experiences Simon, have you ever thought of knocking together sets and uploading them to Soundcloud, kind of a s a counterpoint/explanation to some of your posts which explore a certain theme? you could just do it like a radio show type thing, rather than nonstop mixing. Just a thought. Cheers.

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

i can't actually think right now of the other memories that led me to post this as instalment #1 of a series! there must have been others but i'm blanking on them.

there aren't that many memories to drawn on. haven't really done it very often, and i'm not a technical deejay at all - can't mix. i just play tunes in a sequence. and sometimes it seems to go down all right.

i tend to go with the YouTubes as the audio illustration method of preference. maybe when i have more time i'll think about the soundcloud thing.

Ed Crooks said...

Ignorant question: what is the difference between garage punk and freakbeat? US vs UK only?

SIMON REYNOLDS said...

yeah freakbeat is a retrospective term i think invented by the label Bam Caruso or maybe in a fanzine for UK psych collectors that was linked to the label - i dunno - anyway it's an early 80s term for mid-Sixties UK music that's sort of the cusp between mod and psychedelia - it's getting frenzied, a tinge of LSD entering proceedings as well as all the amphetamines. The exemplars would be The Eyes, John's Children, The Creation, but tons more - often groups who only had one or two singles. Tintern Abbey is a great one in that category - had the killer A-side 'vacuum cleaner' and the even more killer B-side "Bee-Side" although that is pure psychedelia rather than freakbeat.

garage punk is a much earlier invented term although not really used at the time - garage bands or sixties punk were terms started to get used in the early 70s for all those one hit or no hit wonders from the mid-Sixties US who were basically inspired by the Brit invasion - stones, pretty things, kinks, them, yardbirds, et al.