Hypnotise Us

Two slices of early 1990s dance music to whisk us away from December and all those pre-Christmas irritations. First up is a song I’ve posted before but only recently saw the video for the first time.

Released by Creation in 1990 Dream Beam is a wonderful slice of house music, bleepy and spaced out with vocals from Denise Johnson. It was this song that got her the gig with Primal Scream and led to her singing on Screamadelica. Tony Martin’s production is perfectly in tune with the times- he put an album out too, also called Hypnotone, which is worth pulling out from the shelf or looking out for if this kind of thing is your bag. Dream Beam is also on Creation’s definitive 1991 Keeping The Faith compilation, along with Fluke, Weatherall’s MBV remix, World Unite, Sheer Taft, Love Corporation, Primal Scream and a couple of others. Keeping The Faith is among the very best things the label ever released.

I saw Hypnotone perform at a mini-festival in Sefton Park, Liverpool (I think it was summer 1990). Larks In The Park was an annual affair starting in the early 80s. Famously in 1985 The Stone Roses and The La’s played the same night. Hypnotone went on way after dark. We were on a grass bank across the boating lake from the stage and the bleeps came  from the bandstand, drifting across the water towards us, followed by Denise’s voice. Everyone was very chilled and happy. It was one of those moments.

Dream Beam (Danny Rampling Remix)

I posted Papua New Guinea by Future Sound Of London fairly recently, back at the end of August. August seems like a long time ago now. This is another video I’d never seen before until recently, FSOL playing Papua New Guinea on Top Of The Pops in 1991. And playing it live. Papua New Guinea is one of those records that takes you away from it all.

Weatherall’s remix takes things up several gears, a thumping kick drum over that throbbing synths and the rushing rewind sounds. Tom toms. Seagulls. Chanting.

Papua New Guinea (Andrew Weatherall Remix)


Can You Feel Your Hands? Can You Feel Your Feet?

Can you feel the rhythm?

Some songs that are ten minutes long fly by and some feel like they are ten minutes long, a journey to wherever the artist intends to take you. Screamadelica, the title track that wasn’t on the album of the same name, was recorded in Memphis with Weatherall and Nicholson at the controls and released on the Dixie Narco ep in 1992. It is ten minutes of blissful Balearic house accompanied by Denise Johnson’s vocals- ‘spaced out, star child, screamadelica’- and an array of found sounds and other voices. Slip inside.


Denise Denise

Denise Johnson, so much more than a backing singer for Primal Scream, the voice of ACR since circa 1990, has a couple of songs on Soundcloud. This one, 2001, has a very cool, after hours Massive Attack feel and is really, really good.

Back in 1994 Denise released a wonderful single, Rays Of The Rising Sun, a lengthy ambient house number. This version remixed by The Joy is a joy.

Una Certa Proporzione

A couple of lesser known tunes from A Certain Ratio’s back catalogue for you today, both real favourites of mine. In 1986 ACR were moving away from the clipped, army shorts, punk-funk of their early years. Force, released in 1986, found them edging towards a more commercial sound. And Then She Smiles is northern jazz/funk/pop but much better than that sounds. Martin Moscrop’s clarinet keeps it all slightly discordant (and isn’t a million miles from 808 State’s Pacific). It’s parent album Force was re-issued by LTM back in 2009 and worth tracking down. I have a cassette copy in one of those cloth-bound boxes Factory went with for a while (Fact 166 fact fans).

And Then She Smiles

In 1987 they signed to A&M and put out several career highs which failed to sell (Good Together, acr:mcr, The Big E, Won’t Stop Loving You) and migrated their way back to independence in the early 90s on Rob’s Records (Rob Gretton’s label). They then released a series of cracking dance/house inspired records including Mello in 1992. Mello came in a variety of versions, including M-People remixes and dubs.Part 1 was the radio friendly one. The 303 Dub is great too.

Mello (Part 1)

Mello (303 Dub)

Rama Lama Lama Fa Fa Fi

Released twenty five years ago this month Primal Scream’s fourth Screamadelica single was Don’t Fight It, Feel It. Where Loaded had been one of the key indie-dance triggers and Come Together was Weatherall’s gospel masterstroke and Higher Than The Sun was just so far out and gone, Don’t Fight It, Feel It was pretty much the closest they came to making house music (maybe Slip Inside This House shares that). DFIFI is wobbly house but house music nonetheless with a shuddering bassline, Denise Johnson’s wonderful vocals and bleeps and bloops and all manner of dancefloor sounds. The various single versions came with remixes including the even housier and barnstorming Scat Mix where Weatherall and Hugo Nicholson twist their own track inside out and upside down.

Don’t Fight It, Feel It (Scat Mix)

The song and others on Screamadelica caused ructions in the group no matter what Bobby told the press, guitarists walking out of studio sessions and people’s egos threatened by not being on certain tracks. They worked it all out for the live shows. This TV appearance on The Late Show shows how they got a guitar-led version of DFIFI going, with Throb working his way around house music on a Les Paul and Bobby sharing the vocals with Denise. Good stuff. And unlike The Stone Roses, they didn’t blow the sound meter and then shout abuse at Tracy McLeod.

Give Out But Don’t Give Up

I  was listening to Primal Scream’s Give Out But Don’t Give Up recently. I saw it in a charity shop for 50p on cd and bought it. It’s handy to have vinyl lps in a digital format sometimes, if nothing else for listening to in the car. It took me quite a while to get around to buying it when it came out in 1994. As a follow up to Screamadelica it seemed so retrogressive and while I’d bought and loved the Rocks single it just didn’t yell ‘buy me’ at me in 1994. At the time the press labelled the band Dance Traitors and listening to it now it is difficult to disagree except that in hindsight Screamadelica is the odd one out really. Given the extensive touring the band were doing, the drug intake and the opportunities they were presented with it’s probably no surprise they indulged themselves with every rock cliche imaginable. From the William Egglestone Old Glory cover onwards this is early 70s US rock, in velvet trousers, snakeskin shoes and silk scarves. The two openers Jailbird and Rocks are both fine Stonesy rockers, good dirty fun with big Throb riffs. The ballads are all ok too but there are too many of them and crucially none of them are as good as Screamadelica’s Damaged. To these ears the only two songs that really move things forward are the ones done with George Clinton- Funky Jam and the title track. Funky Jam is exactly what it says it is but has got some clout. Give Out But Don’t Give Up is marvelous- sultry, woozy, head spinning funk with lovely vocals from Denise Johnson, dirty guitars and Clinton’s atomic touch.

Give Out But Don’t Give Up

Having said this, criticisms and all, I enjoyed listening to it. It sounded better now than it did back then, twenty one years ago. The question that then struck me was, bearing in mind the somewhat parallel late 80s and early 90s careers of Primal Scream and The Stone Roses, is it better than The Second Coming?

Don’t Fight Control

Claude Flight’s 1925 linocut Speed.

The Chemical Brothers (with Bernard Sumner on vocals) jemmied together with Primal Scream (with Denise Johnson on vocals). As mash ups go this is a tad obvious but good nonetheless. Whether it’s any use to you first thing on a Tuesday January morning I don’t know. You might need to save it for the small hours at the weekend when you’ve had a couple.

Don’t Fight Control