Various Artists

These Various Artists compilations have so far all come from a similar time frame and this one is right in there, the Junior Boys Own Collection from 1994, a round up of singles released on JBO between 1991 and 1994. Heller and Farley appear twice in their Fire Island guise (Fire Island, off Long Island , New York is and was legendary for its gay scene and clubs) and also as Roach Motel. Underworld contribute three songs under two names (Lemon Interrupt and Underworld) and pre-Chemicals Ed and Tom showcase the monstrous Song To the Siren and X-Press 2 are represented by two pieces of essential early 90s house.

This compilation is pretty ubiquitous in 1994, a good round up of a label with its finger near the pulse. All these tracks could be heard in Manchester’s clubs- not always the same club but somewhere between the Hacienda, Home, the gay village and various other darkened rooms these tunes would never be far away. There But For The Grace Of God is Fire Island’s disco house, a 1979 disco-funk classic from machine updated by Farley and Heller, camp as fluffy bras, crop tops and silver trousers.

There But For The Grace Of God

Rez is one of the greatest records of that period. Or any period. Beyond sheer brilliance, it is in some ways a full stop. The ever circling squiggles, the hi-hats and snare, the rush of the chords, all seem to say ‘where else can you go after this?’

Rez

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Impact

Of all the big hitters of the dance music world of the early 90s Orbital always seem to be the raviest, the least moody, the most up and optimistic. The first two Orbital albums, the green one and the brown one, are both essential snapshots of the duo and the scene. The second one (brown or 2) is a blast from start to finish, opening wiht the sampled voice talking about Moebius, time as a loop, the sampled then looped and played against another version of it. From there on in the synthesizers and drum machines take over and the Hartnoll brothers manage to make techno that is melodic and poppy, dance music that works at home, simple sounding tunes that are increasingly complex, all building towards the majesty that is Halcyon + On + On. Before that though there is the ten minutes of this track, three or four songs in one but all the same too- synths, sirens, clattering drums, breakdowns, build ups and half way through a voice… ‘it’s like a cry for survival’.

Impact (The Earth Is Burning)

La Paresse

Here’s something brand new from Swedish producer Paresse, whose stuff I’ve really enjoyed before (Hunters In The Snow, The Night Before You Came, Rosarita, Phantoms Are Waltzing- he’s got a way with song titles). His new ep La Paresse is out now on Magic Feet, four new tracks the lead one being this one- Let Me Out Of This Studio (another winning song title). Hypno Hips, La Flaneur and Zen Fishing make up the rest of the ep, absorbing and sultry techno, electronic music with depth and heart. The Balearic influence is there, to keep it on board with this week’s posts and as Echorich said on Tuesday’s post Balearic is a feeling rather than a sound, but this also has a definite Scandi air to it. You can buy it at Bandcamp.

Blind Faith

I’m going to keep the Balearic vibes going in a vain attempt to make it seem like summer despite the fact that I’m at work and the weather has turned dull and a tad wet. This 1992 Sensuround single was partly the work of a post-Membranes, pre-Goldblade John Robb, with vocals from Tracy Carmen and remixed here by Dean Thatcher, who was responsible for several key remixes from the early 90s. Stick it alongside some early Saint Etienne, some A Man Called Adam and some Screamadelica era Primal Scream and it makes perfect sense.

Blind Faith (Aloof Mix)

There’s A Lot Of Nice Places To See Out There

Stepping backwards in time from yesterday’s Balearic Charlatans remix to a song from Liverpool in 1986 that found its way into DJ Alfredo’s record box in Ibiza and the terrace at the Cafe del Mar with his guiding philosophy of ‘if it sounds good, play it’. Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune) was a single from It’s Immaterial, a Liverpool band with a Mancunian at the helm (John Campbell) and Henry Priestman of The Christians involved on keyboards. The song is perfect mid-80s synth-pop with acoustic guitars and a semi- spoken vocal, not a million miles from the Pet Shop Boys. Driving Away From Home was a UK hit (number 18) and popped up on adverts and compilations and TV shows but don’t let that take anything away from it.

One of my favourite aspects of the song is the attempt to write a British road trip song, something that on the face of it is an American thing. ‘Why don’t we cross the city limit, and head on down the M62, it’s only thirty nine miles and forty five minutes to Manchester’ John says, and goes on to tell the driver ‘all you’ve got to do is put your foot hard down to the floor, we can call on people I know in Newcastle or maybe in Glasgow’. See also Billy Bragg’s A13 (Trunk Road To The Sea).

Driving Away From Home (Wicked Weather For Walking)

A Boy With A Stronger Emotion

The Charlatans have just put this up online, a remix of the title track from their new album by Chris and Cosey. A lovely, summery, 80s sounding,  Balearic version.

Opportunity Three was a different, remixed version of Opportunity (off debut album Some Friendly). It was mixed by Flood, originally released as the B-side to the 1991 Over Rising single and then saw the light of day again on Melting Pot, their first Best Of back in 1998. Opportunity Three is a delicious seven minute plus slice of 1990, equal parts 60s psychedelia and late 80s dance infused rock, led by some very loose drumming. The band (bass, guitar, Hammond) all swirl around, tripping out while Tim sings some sweet nonsense.

Opportunity Three

Various Artists

Back in 1991 this Various Artists compilation was stuck on my turntable for what seemed like months. The acid jazz scene had been born and in the USA jazz flavoured hip hop was briefly the cutting edge, partly led by Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues film in 1990. This all fed into the emerging trip hop scene too I think. The Rebirth Of Cool was a fourteen track compilation opened by Gang Starr’s Jazz Thing, with a swinging beat and pulsing bassline from DJ Premier and Guru’s effortless rhymes recounting the history of jazz and its place importance now/then.

Jazz Thing

There are many fine moments among the rest of the songs and artists- X Clan’s Raise The Flag, MC Mello, Dream Warriors, Stetsasonic’s brilliant Talkin’ All That Jazz, Galliano and Young Disciples from London’s Acid Jazz label and Young MC. Between 1991 and 1998 4th And Broadway put out a further seven volumes and it lost its way a bit. I bailed out after Volume 2 but this one, the first, was a definite winner.