Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: It Began ... in Chicago

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  • Russell Brown,

    The story of 'Love Can't Turn Around':

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17917 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    On the Chicago vibe.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • nothingelseon,

    And more: Marshall Jefferson

    Welling-Town • Since Mar 2008 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Marshall Jefferson just seems like such a cool dude.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17917 posts Report Reply

  • MikeE,

    HEh just picked up a 1986 release by farley jackmaster funk at Real Groovy for $4 on the weekend.

    Really interesting how a lot of younger london DJs (especially Ben UFO from Hessle Recordings) are picking up on this sort of stuff and rolling it in their sets.

    Check out some of the sets on http://boilerroom.tv/ for more.

    Pretty sure even mosca who I had down at Be Club last thursday dropped some old school trax stuff!

    Kingsland • Since Nov 2006 • 138 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Gettin' geeky with one of my favourite ever, ever tracks:

    Jamie Principle's original 1986 version of 'Your Love' on Persona Records:

    And the better-known (and let's face it, hipsters, better) version with Frankie Knuckles from 1987:

    Which of course got turned into this thing of wonder:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17917 posts Report Reply

  • nothingelseon,

    And here's Acid Trax

    Welling-Town • Since Mar 2008 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • nothingelseon,

    And (last one as I gotta get some work done) Model 500

    Welling-Town • Since Mar 2008 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to nothingelseon,

    You shouldn't take LSD and drive a train. Weed is fine, but acid is going a bit too far (even if you're much less likely to fail a drug test from it).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4209 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    OMG - how wicked! A post about my favourite periods in my life - house music in the late 80s - OMG... such memories... Wellington, The Box, listening to house music on my turntable in my bedroom... Gay Community dances at Vic Uni with house music brought in by Mark Harris... it was such a great time....

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 635 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Hollywood, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    Indeed Chris, the transformation from old fashioned disco/funk to the sounds of Chicago (and Detroit) happened almost overnight. Wellington clubs were fairly quick to embrace the scene (Clares, Naked Angel, and the short-lived Sub Club in Cuba St) but there probably wasn’t quite as big a ‘scene’ as there was in Auckland at the time. I still recall the sense of excitement that the dramatically increased beats-per-minute factor added to a night out. In the late 80s and early 90s life was getting faster – though nothing quite like today – and I guess it was only natural that our dancefloors started demanding the same ...
    Oh, and @ nothingelseon ... Bill, surprised that this is something you dig – given the post-punk flavour of your nights at SFBH – can we expect a bi-monthly retro House night anytime soon?
    Haven’t the time to search for a youtube link or anything fancy but my own fave cut from that period was Nitro Deluxe’s This Brutal House.

    Since May 2009 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Karen Crisp,

    I am _so_ glad I moved to London in the very early 90s. Arrived a Dunedin Sound/indie girl; transformed into a clubber within months. I felt so lucky to be in the right place at the right time, or so it seemed to me.

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Mike Hollywood,

    I didn't know that it was Chicago / Detroit at the time, and didn't know until quite some time later. I just knew it as House. I remember Clares, but can't remember Naked Angel or Sub Club. Being a young gay then (and still am thankfully) I mostly went to Alfies, which played generally R&B, soul and disco. But we did go to the Box quite a bit to get something different. I probably went once or twice to Clares with my flatmate at the time, and Madeline and Katy.

    I remember being introduced to House through the quarterly Gay Community Dances held up at the Student Union Hall. The DJ's there came from within the community, and Mark Harris was one of them. He had been to London and brought back a pile of new music with him which was Acid and House. It's fair to say that Acid was more popular, possibly because London was where people travelled to, because that was where the strongest air/cultural links were, rather than Chicago / Detroit, but House was also mixed in and was just as popular.

    Russell reminded us of discussing Trax music a while back; I discussed the Londong influence in NZ in the late 80s - saying that it would make for a great book, and wound up contacting author Tony Simpson (?), who much to my surprise said yes he was looking at such an idea...

    But I remember buying a few TRAX records. There was one compilation that I played often. It had 'Jack my Body', 'Love can't turn around', 'Move your body' and a few others... I moved overseas and unfortunately my records disappeared. But I wound up buying a tape in Seattle that, not realised at the time, was the next iteration of Chicago / Detroit house. I played that quite a bit living in Vancouver. But the music in Vancouver was different - no Acid really, and little House, but mostly West Coast music from LA.

    It's quite strange discussing music of your late teens - it has such an impact on you. We didn't know it then, but there was a great sense of freedom - we were young, flatting, independent, at uni, and we could listen to all sorts of great music (Smiths, Talk Talk, House, Acid, Look Blue Go Purple etc). We had affairs to music, and the Wellington winters were endured with the help of music. We went to cool clubs, and Alfies which was like another home to us. It was a very intense time...

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 635 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nothingelseon,

    And (last one as I gotta get some work done) Model 500

    Get that Detroit stuff outta here! ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17917 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Karen Crisp,

    I am _so_ glad I moved to London in the very early 90s. Arrived a Dunedin Sound/indie girl; transformed into a clubber within months. I felt so lucky to be in the right place at the right time, or so it seemed to me.

    Yes, I felt very much that way when acid house happened. I’d always envied people I knew who’d been in the UK for punk rock, and it was swiftly evident to me that this was something of the same order.

    Mark Moore has a good description of our favoured club night, The Trip:

    KABOOM! Nicky Holloway opens The Trip at The Astoria (the same place where the Watson brothers did Delirium playing house music behind wire mesh to protect themselves from bottles thrown by hip-hop kids). It’s huge and it’s on a Saturday night. The atmosphere is like the winning goal at cup final prolonged for the entire night. When it shuts, ravers dance in the fountains outside and wave their arms screaming “Acieed” when the police turn on their sirens. Suddenly there are a lot more black faces in what was previously a very white scene.

    There are some pictures from its seven-week run at the (now sadly demolished) Astoria here.

    And also this girl. I have no idea who she is, but I just had a massive flashback of dancing next to her at The Trip in 1988. She looked more like Madonna at the time :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17917 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Hollywood,

    @ Chris - I recall going to Alfies but can’t say I was a regular there. I do remember one very debauched night up there in particular, but this is a family site so I’ll leave it at that. For me it was the go-to option when everything else closed. A great vibe up there.
    Sub Club was where SFBH is located now but it was rather different in decor and set-up (it was designed and decorated rather like a cave or cavern – but upstairs, as opposed to underground).
    Naked Angel was an odd almost makeshift venue behind the church at the bottom of Boulcott St and became popular with clubbers after Clares closed down.
    But Clares was my poison of choice mainly because my flatmate at the time, John, was DJ (86-87) there. It offered two zones – full on pumping dancefloor music downstairs, and a chill-out lounge area upstairs, with the quirky band Six Volts enjoying a long residency. Thus you had a choice of dance music, or quiet low key gig, and plush sofas!, without having to leave the venue.
    John played a lot of early hip hop (PE, Mantronix) and as incredible as it may seem today he was once threatened with the sack if he persisted with his “rap fetish”. House music came along at the right time as an edgy alternative.
    Great comment on how the music of our youth always stays with us on account of all the memories and dramas/traumas surrounding it.
    Btw – I note Facebook has a ‘lost nightlife of Wellington’ group which recounts stories and venues/people from this era.

    Since May 2009 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • nothingelseon,

    Get that Detroit stuff outta here! ;-)

    Heh, it ain't where you from... :-)

    Both the Chicago & Detroit sounds are kind of intertwined in a continuum in my head, sorry. I first remember hearing Love Can't Turn Around (I bought the 7" at the Sounds Unlimited at 256 after reading about it in the UK press) and I'd never heard anything like it before. I was lucky enough to be in the UK in 87-89 for the Summers of Love - many great nights out, too many awesome tunes. A fantastic NYE 87/88 at the Brixton Academy with Ten City, Kim Mazelle & Todd Terry DJing all his own/alter ego's records.

    Bill, surprised that this is something you dig – given the post-punk flavour of your nights at SFBH – can we expect a bi-monthly retro House night anytime soon?

    Intriguing concept - tho I don't have too many of those records any more unfortunately, and my mixings gone completely to shite these days. I'd definitely go to one :-)

    Welling-Town • Since Mar 2008 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Predictably, I wake to find a typo – the reissues from Trax UK were in the late 1990s, not ’80s. [Fixed -- RB.]

    William Gibson’s slightly misquoted maxim that “the street finds its own uses for technology"

    The way these kids (and they were just that – many 15/16 or younger) used the tools they found themselves with is rather well covered in that series of interviews I linked to too.

    If you have the time (and I guess the level of interest) they’re worth it, even if they’re perhaps sometimes little more than a trio of ageing UK DJs musing over the stories. They are, however, pretty well informed ageing UK DJs and I’ve not heard many of the stories before.

    One of my favourite Trax stories was told to me by Roy Davis Jr, As a kid he was working in the label’s warehouse packing records. One day he came in with a demo cassette and handed it to Larry Sherman to audition.

    A week later he arrived at work and began unpacking boxes that had newly been pressed. One was his demo.

    Sherman had sent the unplayed cassette straight to the plant. He had no idea what was good or bad, he just knew that the kids were making the tunes that sold so he didn’t want to risk missing one.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3184 posts Report Reply

  • Anonymous Author,

    Motorbass 1996 – via a hat-tip to Chicago's French Quarter, 1987. House music for minimalists: hands flutter at sides, (not in the air because really, you should care) heads loll, feet describe small circles, nod and smile warmly at fellow shufflers through the fractal light of the strobing mirror ball. Must. Not. Sweat. While. Dancing. Many synesthesia-inducing, low-energy, high-intensity nights were spent creeping around like a praying mantis on a 1996 dance floor to this:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2010 • 64 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Some period video with an acid soundtrack. Mostly from Spectrum at Heaven, but some from The Trip, if I rightly recognise that parachute ceiling:

    We went to Spectrum a couple of times (Monday nights!). Heaven was a gay club with an awesome lighting rig. Crazy place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17917 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Mike Hollywood,

    a chill-out lounge area upstairs, with the quirky band Six Volts

    Loved my only visit, though did get swallowed up by those sofas

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Get that Detroit stuff outta here! ;-)

    And not a Linn LM1 in sight. Then again, that was mostly a Los Angeles thing.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3892 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    a massive flashback of dancing next to her

    Love those moments too

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to nothingelseon,

    Todd Terry DJing all his own/alter ego's records.

    Same, at The WAG one night around the same time. It worked, but Todd was electric during that period.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3184 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which of course got turned into this thing of wonder

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

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