MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2015
WEEK 39: UK RAVE
In the grand scheme of things, apart from the protagonists themselves, I doubt anyone cares whether acid house was introduced to these shores via the Hacienda’s infamous Nude nights or by an elitist bunch of DJ’s transplanting the Balearic Beat of sunny Ibiza to a cold, wet London over the winter of 1987/88. Whatever the myths surrounding it, the indisputable truth is that whereas acid’s arrival lit the fuse for the biggest youth culture explosion this countries ever seen, the homegrown music that came out of it barely gets a mention.
While sample based DJ records like ‘Pump Up The Volume’ and the first cash-in attempts at authentic Chicago acid marked a turning point of sorts, their connection to early rave was tenuous to say the least. Even when anthems like Humanoid’s ‘Stakker Humanoid’ and A Guy Called Gerald’s masterful ‘Voodoo Ray’ appeared there was still some confusion as to what UK rave music should actually be called. During the infamous Second Summer of Love, rather than being any kind of coherent scene it was still more a mish-mash of hybrid genres and regional variations like northern house and the bleep and bass of the early Warp roster.
The best of the non Warp signings were Orbital, their debut ‘Chime’ the rave anthem that defined the E-inspired optimism of the M25 scene. Knocked out on a cheap cassette recorder and first released on Orbital’s own self-financed label, it was typical of raves cosy, DIY, cottage industry principle. For all the music’s futurism, more often than not the hordes of anonymous, self-taught, sonic adventurers created their tracks at home before pressing up a thousand white label 12 inch singles and selling them direct to specialist dance shops.
Throughout 1990, tracks like ‘Chime’ and the ever increasing swell of a new underground helped to inspire a second, much larger wave of British kids to tune in, turn on and freak out before another exclusively British rave sound emerged. Heated by the flames of Ecstasy, hardcores mix of looped breakbeats, sub bass frequencies and noise stabs possessed an avant-garde madness unlike anything anyone had ever heard, and with a Jamaican influence that could only have come from the streets of urban Britain.
In 1991, despite virtually no radio play, the UK singles chart was assaulted by a battery of hardcore pop anthems, The Prodigy the most successful of the lot. Dismissed as hopelessly uncool, some old skool hipsters even claimed their August 1991 hit ‘Charly’ was responsible for the death of rave although by then the hardcore underground had already changed direction to consciously push against the mainstream, cranking up the speed and increasing the weirdness by adding the sampled ghostly, helium shrieks of ethereal female singers like Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks and deep house soul diva’s.
A long way from the E fuelled highs and cuddly hits of the chart years, like any other youth culture with the nihilism of drugs as its whole raison d’être, by the Autumn of 1993 rave’s living dream had turned to living nightmare; a woozy, hippy hell hole of junked up alternative reality. As the movers, shakers and teeny megaravers came down with a sickening crash, hardcore tracks began to reveal the black hole of excess, paranoia and depression that had always been obscured by the stupidly happy mask of the smiley. For many it had been an experience that had literally blown their minds and not necessarily in a blissful, trippy way either!
01 M/A/R/R/S ‘Pump Up The Volume’ (A Side August 1987)
02 BOMB THE BASS ‘Beat Dis’ (A Side February 1988)
03 HUMANOID ‘Stakker Humanoid’ (A Side October 1988)
04 A GUY CALLED GERALD ‘Voodoo Ray’ (A Side November 1988)
05 SHUT UP AND DANCE ‘£10 To Get In’ (A Side August 1989)
06 ORBITAL ‘Chime’ (A Side March 1990)
07 SWEET EXORCIST ‘Testone’ (A Side January 1990)
08 LFO ‘LFO’ [Leeds Warehouse Mix] (A Side July 1990)
09 RHYTHM SECTION ‘Nu Generation (Outta My Face)’ (Comin’ On Strong EP April 1991)
10 2 BAD MICE ‘Bombscare’ (Hold It Down EP May 1991)
11 JOHN + JULIE ‘Circles (Round And Round)’ [Vicious Mix] (A Side July 1991)
12 PRODIGY ‘Charly’ (A Side August 1991)
13 ALTERN 8 ‘Activ 8’ [Hardcore Holocaust Mix] (A Side November 1991)
14 SL2 ‘On A Ragga Tip’ [Original Mix] (A Side April 1992)
15 MESSIAH ‘There Is No Law’ (A Side May 1992)
16 ACEN ‘Trip II The Moon Pt. 2’ (A Side August 1992)
17 4HERO ‘The Elements (High Noon)’ (Journey From The Light EP February 1993)
18 HYPER ON EXPERIENCE ‘Lords Of The Null Lines’ (Deaf In The Family EP May 1993)
19 ORIGIN UNKNOWN ‘Valley Of The Shadows’ (AA Side September 1993)