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.


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.


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?


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.