Monday, January 24, 2022

the blow out

 With the rave as working class blowout idea, I always come back to this 1966 song by The Easybeats, "Friday On My Mind" 

It's written from a Sixties mod perspective, but it foreshadows the mechanisms at work in Northern Soul, disco, rave  - every kind of dance culture in which pills are used to intensify leisure time to the utmost, but then it's back to the 9 to 5.  This is the key verse --

Do the five day grind once more

I know of nothin' else that bugs me

More than workin' for the rich man

Hey! I'll change that scene one day

Today I might be mad, tomorrow I'll be glad

'Cause I'll have Friday on my mind

And then there's the chorus 

Tonight I'll spend my bread, tonight

I'll lose my head, tonight

I've got to get to night

Monday I'll have Friday on my mind

Musically the verses have this sort of tick-tocking tension, like the treadmill of workaday time, as he waits for the big blowout of the weekend (the euphoric chorus). It's two different kinds of time:  chronos versus kairos

Lyrically the key line is "hey! I'll change that scene one day"  - I find it incredibly poignant - it could just mean "one day I'll get started on my career / start a business and I'll be the rich man / boss" or it could mean "one day me and the rest of the proletariat will organise at the site of the means of production and there'll be a revolutionary transformation in political economy, no more rich men, no more bosses"

but it's clear that he's so caught up in this nightlifestyle that he'll never get around to either the individual or collective escape route

I tend to see the essence of rave (and its precursors) as dissipatory 

but (like a lot of music in different ways) it points towards an unalienated life - one that it can't actually make real  in the outside world, but can only institute in the small areas of space and time it can command

of course, the troubling thought is that the momentary release of the ecstatic all night dance is actively working against the total and permanent change he and everyone else should be working for (and which would necessarily involve more drudgery and deferment of gratification in favor of the long term goal - duty for the future being the essence of political involvement) 

there here-and-now utopia / TAZ is taking away the possibility of a soon-to-come PAZ (permanent autonomous zone)

Flowered Up's "Weekender" film is an update of this notion of the  blow out cycle as counter-revolutionary. It's totally mod - indeed directly influenced by Quadrophenia, the mod revival movie of 1979 - indeed there's a sample of the Phil Daniels character's rant about how they can take his office drone job and stick it up their arseholes

in Quadrophrenia, the key scene of disillusionment for the mod protagonist as played by Phil Daniels,  is when he comes across the scene's leading Face - the coolest of the cool  - in his civilian life, where he is a porter in a posh hotel, being ordered around by rich men... 

Another song about the blow out - there's a verse about "going to the disco" in this otherwise gritty funk-blues song about how tough life is economically by the great Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, the king of "proletarian funk"

Got to go to a disco

Throw your troubles away

Dance to the music

That the DJ's play

And then the lights come on

Like you knew they would

Go home and face the music

That don't sound to good

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

pirate radio + rave exhibition

Sweet Harmony: Radio, Rave & Waltham Forest, 1989-1994

open now, running until 25 May 2022


exhibition rationale:

Sweet Harmony: Radio, Rave & Waltham Forest, 1989-1994 began as a research project by Rendezvous Projects in 2019. Originally funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, the most recent part of the project is being funded by Waltham Forest Council.

The project looks at a significant five-year period in the UK dance music history and the contribution that young people living and working in the London Borough of Waltham Forest at the time made to it. Previously undocumented, Rendezvous Projects are now bringing these stories to life, celebrating them and preserving them for future generations.

1989 – 1994 was a distinct period in music history; at the end of the acid house music scene, garage, hardcore, jungle and drum and bass all emerged in quick succession. Through their research, Rendezvous Projects have established that Waltham Forest played an important role in the development and dissemination of these musical genres, influencing a generation of musicians and young people. The social history captured demonstrates the interdependencies and relationships between location, post-war architecture and diverse communities, and how they all contributed to a potent and creative period of time.

The exhibition includes oral histories, photographs, video, audio, flyers and ephemera, as well as rare hand-painted banners designed by local company Bannerama and original printed magazine Ravescene. Over 30 oral histories have been recorded with people who made significant contributions to this scene and the borough’s cultural heritage, and so far include Chelsea-Louise Berlin, Cool Hand Flex, Linden C, Andy Clockwork, Dlux, DJ Rap, Vicki Edwards, Stephen Hebditch, Ronnie Herel, Gordon Mac, MC Navigator, Jessie Grace Mellor, Roger the Doctor, Slipmatt, Tim Strudwick, Uncle 22 and Warlock.

Before this project there was very little record of the Waltham Forest’s contribution to UK dance music, either online or in print. As with many working-class (and mainly black) histories, the story had largely been told by those with greater privilege. Rendezvous Projects look to redress this balance, celebrating, highlighting and recording the hard work, creative entrepreneurship and talent of the people involved, and putting the protagonists’ own voices at the heart of the story.

more about the project 

Sweet Harmony: Radio, Rave & Waltham Forest, 1989-1994 is a project which documents and celebrates the history of pirate radio and rave in the borough during the period 1989-1994.

The first phase of the project started in April 2019 and was funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund. A new phase 'Retuning the Airwaves' was funded by Waltham Forest Council in 2020-21 and included workshops with young people in the borough. This phase will culminate in an exhibition at Vestry House Museum in November 2021, and a series of audio pieces made available at locations relevant to the project.

In the lead up to the exhibition, a music event is being held at new venue Patchworks on Church Road E10, featuring some of the DJs who were interviewed for the project.

Oral history interviews conducted in 2019 include: Bizzy B, Roy Balfourth, Chelsea-Louise Berlin, Linden C, Andy Clockwork, Merry Collins, Dlux, DJ Louise, DJ Rap, Nicky Dungeons, Vicki Edwards, Adrian Hall, Joel Harrison, Kier Hawkins, Stephen Hebditch, Claire Henderson, Ronnie Herel, Marlon Guildford, Gordon Mac, MC Navigator, Jessie Grace Mellor, Chris Pilling, Roger the Doctor, Slipmatt, Steve B, Adam S, Ian S, Mike Stone, Tim Strudwick and Warlock. These can be listened to in full by appointment at Waltham Forest Archives and Local Studies Library at Vestry House Museum.

Limited edition publication

As a result of this first phase of the project, we've produced a limited edition booklet and map showing the location of former radio stations and including oral history extracts to tell their history.

The booklet is 24 pages, A5, printed in one colour, and saddle stitched with a folded full colour B2 size map as jacket.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Energy Flash publishing history


The original Picador edition with bonus CD of rave classics, 1998 (tracklist available as YouTube playlist)

And with the full cover revealed

Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of  Techno and Rave Culture - the Little, Brown hardback of the US edition (abridged - but with an additional chapter on DJing), 1998. The different title came about because the working title was Generation E - and that didn't translate to America, where they call the drugt X, so it was changed to Generation Ecstasy. Then, when - quite late in the day - I decided it should be called Energy Flash, the marketing people were like, "no, the Generation Ecstasy really works much better". So that's how it got stuck with the gruesome pun.

A gorgeous cover (the vertical text and computer dots are meant to be a pill dissolving in the esophagus). The designer's original radical idea was to have no title or author name on the front, I had to put my foot down there - "what about point of sale impact?!

Back cover of Little, Brown edition, with author photograph by Jerry Bauer (RIP)

Routledge US paperback edition, 1999

Picador 2008 expanded /updated edition with hideous cover - and no CD

A far nicer cover than the Picador precursor - evocative of neurons firing in the synapses - this is Soft Skull's 2012 American edition of the first expanded / updated edition. Note that the right, original title  of the book is restored (but with a nod to the US edition's prior existence - "A Generation Ecstasy Extended Remix for the Twenty-First Century"). 

The second updated / expanded edition - and most likely final version -  this time for Faber & Faber and with the best cover yet. 2013.

Foreign Editions

First Italian edition, published 2000, by Arcana Musica, as Generazione Ballo / Sballo (it apparently translates as something like "Generation Let's Go For It HARD").
Correction / update: Pixi tells me via Twitter that the title is actually "an untranslatable pun ('ballo'='dance', 'sballo'='drug trip')

Second Italian edition on Arcana, 2010

Spanish edition on the Barcelona publisher Contra, 2013. Possibly the best cover of all, especially in the full wraparound. 

Croatian edition, 2009, on Naklada Ljevak. Do like the typography and colour palette although it doesn't scream "rave" really

Forthcoming editions

Russian translation, through the auspices of the publishing program of  the museum V-A-C (which stands for ‘Victoria – the Art of being Contemporary’), at some point in 2022.

Related Publications

Hardcore! - collection of hardcore continuum writings, in French translation - forthcoming on Editions Audimat, probably August of 2022. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

"music to be murdered by"


"storey"! -

Yet this tune did not make the recent Selectabwoy the Typo Mix  - droll concept, excellent selection/execution 

mix rationale: 

Well this is possibly the dumbest idea I've had yet: collating thirty of the most heinous spelling & grammatical errors in jungle/hardcore history and putting them in a mix.

Typos are one of many endearingly genuine hallmarks of homegrown, DIY scenes like hardcore and jungle, and I've always had a strange fascination with them. For the selection process, one very simple rule applied: a blatant mistake in the artist or track name had to be present on the original label or sleeve artwork. (Not really fair to shoot fish in a barrel, so 90s jungle compilations were deemed off-limits, the only exception being compilation exclusives).

Arguably the tracklist is the main event here, and I’ve included bonus details verbatim from the label/sleeve wherever I could find them, but as it turned out the mix itself was a joy to put together. Obscure research briefs like this usually throw up a few tunes I've never heard before, and as is often the case they're great ... some are phenomenal.

Shouts out and big <3 to the featured artists and labels; for the music of course, but also the casual oversight, wanton misuse of apostrophes, utterly inexplicable brainfarts, bad handwriting transcriptions by stoned artworkers, and anything else that made this selection possible.

A special thanks to Robbie @r-hawk for his creative assitance and the LLBCJ group for hosting the original typo thread ;)

Enjoy the mix.

Hopa-Bone's - O'K Coral [In Touch Records]
Cool Hand Flex - Rythm Flow (Assitant: MC Fats Carlton) [In Touch Records]
Cool Hand Flex - Melody Madnes (Re-Mix prod by Ronie Size) [In Touch Records]
Family Of Intelligence - Bonus (Dud Plate Mix) [Kemet]
Dillinger - Tear Down (da whole place) (produced by Dillinga) [Conqueror]
Underground - Weel And Come Again (Ing by Flex) [De Underground]
Ray Kieth - The Terroist Mixes - The Final Licks - Dub Plate (Part 2) [Ruff Kut!]
Ragu & Stalker - Love Comes 'N' Go's [Vinyl Addiction]
Brian Killers - Screw Face Part 3 (Mellow Mix) [Kemet/3rd Party]
Intelligent Jungalist - Barehedd One (Shout to all Intelligent Jungalists's) [Ruff Guidance]
88.3 feat. Lisa May - Wishing On A Star (Rouge Unit Dub Mix) [Urban Gorilla]
Wax Doctor - Kid Capprice [Metalheadz]
Protential Bad Boy - Murder Jumppan Sound [Redskin]
Kemet Crew (Briankillers/Schwarznegger) - For Real [Kemet]
Tom & Jerry - Shoaling Style (Vip Mix) [Riddim Track]
Asylum - Stepin'Hard [Metalheadz]
City Connection - Loosing My Mind [Labello Blanco]
Family Of Intelligence - Bounus Beat #1 [Kemet/3rd Party]
Brian Records Presents Bizzy B & Equinox - 7 Minutes of Maddness [Brain Records]
Dream Team - Survival Of There Fit [Joker]
Interrorogator - Break War (written by DJ Interrorogator, Simon Martin & Ant Mles) [Liftin' Spirit]
2.2 - Frist Klass [Blu Inc]
Kaos Theory - Sooth My Soul [Intalex]
Bab. B. Kane - Paradise (Bab. B. Kane & Ash Remix) [Kikman]
TDK - Illusion Of Ballance [Kemet]
Ratty - Source Of All Evil (DJ SS Remix) (A Tatse Of Things To Come EP) [Formation]
C. Biz - The Croud Says Rewind [Brain Records]
Leviticus - Cronic 1. Burial (Madamoselle Mix) [Philly Blunt]
The Good, 2 Bad & Hugly - A Fist Full Of Dollors [Ruff Kut!]
Subject 13 - The Uniqe Beatz EP Intense Remixes - Carear Come 1st (Widgy Grub Remix) [ULR]

Saturday, January 1, 2022