Cobra Bora

Back in 1989 808 State released Ninety, one of the first UK house albums. Ninety is chock full of summer of ’89 acid house filtered through a group of four men all trying to get all their ideas onto every song- crashing drums, vocal samples, mad and delirious synth lines, songs with mulitple melody parts playing at the same time, sirens, everything. I had it on cassette and remember well driving to Glastonbury in June 1990 , arriving at the site with Ninety on the car stereo. We pulled up, opened the car doors to get out, Cobra Bora thumping away. A hippy crawled out of the hedge right in front us, said hello, asked us if we wanted to buy ‘anything’ and then shambled off.

Cobra Bora

Party People

Inside this giant mobile mirror ball is Graham Massey, once/currently of 808 State. In front of the mirror ball are a New Orleans style marching band called Mr Wilson’s Secondliners accompanying him on brass and percussion as he spins house classics through the streets of Manchester, as part of yesterday’s Manchester Day parade. Now in its eighth year the parade was played out this year in standard Mancunian weather- blazing sunshine, thirty-odd degrees heat. Even just standing still was a sweaty business. As the parade finished in Exchange Square, Massey and his band kept the party going a little longer with a wonderfully ramshackle version of Planet Rock.

Planet Rock

Lift Going Up

A couple of weeks ago I posted 808 State and Bjork’s Ooops off 1991’s Ex:el album. Ctel then posted a recent remix of In Yer Face from the same album so I went back and listened to the whole thing for the first time in ages. 1991 has been all over the internet in the last few days, mainly because September 1991 saw the release of Screamadelica, Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque, Nirvana’s Nevermind and A Tribe Called Qwest’s Low End Theory amongst others. Not a bad month all things considered. In November My Bloody Valentine put out Loveless. Ex:el came out in May so pre-empted the autumn rush but what a good album it is. Both Bjork songs are superb, In Yer Face is techno heaven, then there’s the Bernard Sumner sung Spanish Heart, Cubik, Olympic and the spooky Nefertiti. It also uses the Willy Wonka Gene Wilder sample- ‘we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams’. Tucked away inside Ex:el is this, Lift, a wonderful, uplifting, updating of Kraftwerk with rave drums.

Lift

Ooops Alright, I’ll Come Over

Back in 1991, a quarter of a century ago as I’m getting tired of typing/saying, Bjork made the transition from singer of oddball Icelandic indie band to dance music based solo artist look as simple as could be and this song was all part of it. 808 State’s Ex:el album was pretty groundbreaking at a time when dance acts were exploring and expanding the possibilities of the album format. Ooops is an utter delight, weird and otherworldly but still clearly rooted in 808 State’s Mancunian house. From the ascending chords in the intro to her vocal, which seems to come in and tickle your ears. ‘Ooops alright, I’ll come over and pour myself over you, jars of fun, exciting stories, I’ll make you forget’ she sings. Yup. Graham Massey’s woodwind joins in, the drums rattle away, that piano riff comes back and Bjork carries on, gurgling sweet nothings. Strange and accessible, ambient-techno, both moody and upbeat. I think we took it for granted at the time how good this sort of thing was.

Ooops

The video’s worth a look too.

Seventeen

At 7.37 am on this day in 1998 our eldest was born- Isaac. Whisked straight off to ICU he has since then put up with severe deafness, learning difficulties, two bone marrow transplants before the age of two, umpteen operations for skeletal problems, pneumonia, meningitis and more besides. That he is today seventeen is something of a minor miracle. The picture above shows him emerging from a shop in Amsterdam a few weeks back that took his fancy. Becoming the parent of a disabled child isn’t what you expect as a twenty-something and there’s no doubt that it has been a bumpy ride for us but he brings a massive amount to us as well and his determination to go on when others would give up is staggering. Isaac doesn’t really like music so I can’t post a request. The number 1 single when he was born was Believe by Cher but I’m not too fussed about that record. The seventeenth song in the downloads folder on my computer is this by 808 State. Not too bad a choice. Happy birthday Isaac.

Pacific State

Spiked

Twenty five years ago today I was one of thirty thousand people standing on an island in the river Mersey near Widnes, just next to a chemical plant. The idea a year or two previously that a British indie guitar band could draw that many people to watch them was absurd and that was one of the things The Stone Roses brought to the late 80s, the thinking big and being ambitious. The day itself involved a lot of sitting around, a few support acts that didn’t really connect at all and huge queues for the beer tents. This wasn’t really a beery crowd though, unlike Heaton Park in 2012 which was collectively about as drunk as it could be. The band came on at nine and played well, clearly partly blown away by the event and the crowd’s enthusiasm. The sound quality has been debated ever since, the wind whipping it about the island. Where we were, it sounded good. The final three songs were illuminated by the lights bouncing off the huge mirrorballs suspended above the stage just as it had gone dark- Made Of Stone, Elizabeth My Dear and I Am The Resurrection. We were driven there in Al’s Grandad’s chocolate brown Austin Allegro. I distinctly remember the compilation tape we played on the way. Killer by rave hero Adamski (and Seal)…

808 State’s Pacific, which was everywhere that summer (and the one before)…

< width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/tLxDRePUwEY&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

And this, Sympathy For the Devil. Woo woo.

Today On This Programme You Will Hear…

Greg Wilson is a dj legend and famously the Hacienda’s first dance music dj. He is also said to be the first British man to mix live on TV (on The Tube). He took a long sabbatical in 1983 but has been back since 2003 playing disco, electro funk, house, dance music generally, around the world.

This Greg Wilson edit of 808 State’s Pacific State contains that Jesse Jackson sample that Weatherall used for his Come Together remix. Some wag said that Pacific State is just Stranger On The Shore for the E generation but it’s easy to be sniffily reductionist about things. This record is a club classic and still has the ability to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.

Greg Wilson’s Soundcloud page, with edits, mash ups and dj mixes, is here. You could pick your way through it for days and still not play it all. His blog Being A DJ is here.