Bad Girl by Bad Girl (Ibiza Records)

A WHILE before we started doing the Microdot parties in Leeds, me and Jez did a few nights at the 1in12 in Bradford called VLF, which stood for Very Low Frequencies or Vegetable Liberation Front, depending on who we were talking to at the time.

On the flyers, we added the subtitle “dub techno touchdown”, which reflected the mix of dub reggae, techno and acid we played.

I don’t think anyone came down to it, ever – apart from our guest DJs Mark and Farrah from Kaos, who not unreasonably demanded their money despite playing to a completely empty venue (except for me and Jez, most likely tripping our heads off and doing stupid dances regardless).

We wanted to create a very specific vibe. I was always very impressed by Renegade Soundwave’s The Phantom, a muscular, serpentine amalgam of dub, techno, hip hop and, with its cheeky White Riot sample, punk rock too, come to think of it.

I liked the way The Phantom combined the heaviness of dub with the trippy energy of acid house, but still had the funk. I wanted to hear more of this kind of stuff, but apart from honourable exceptions like Meat Beat Manifesto and Leeds’s own Ital Rockers’ and their classic Mental Dub, nobody else seemed to be making it – and certainly nobody was playing it in Leeds at the time.

Hardcore seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. It ticked all my boxes. Unlike many other people who were into it, I was coming at it as a reggae fan who was also into house rather than anything to do with hip hop. Though I had a soft spot for odd tunes by people such as EPMD, Digital Underground, Queen Latifah, Public Enemy and KRS-1, I didn’t really know how to dance to any of it – and after years of listening to punk rock maybe I was just a bit weary of blokes shouting stuff at me too.

Like 2Tone a decade earlier, like jungle and drum and bass, I’d imagine, a few years later, it was tremendously exciting to hear new British music that was totally unlike anything else you’d ever heard before. The best hardcore was uncompromisingly experimental and tripped-out, and it worked like a dream on the dancefloor. It was a stylish but unpolished and unapologetic hybrid of different styles and ideas that couldn’t have originated anywhere but Britain at that precise moment in time.

Prior to that, house music was all about America. Then it was all about Italy, and it was even about Belgium for a while. But for now, the focus turned towards dance music produced in Britain.

The first big hardcore do that I went to was some rave at a roller-rink in Edmonton. I was down in London with Helen, visiting a couple of her chums from Cambridge. The way I remember it, we may have gone there because I was able to get us in for free – possibly through Nicky at Phuture Trax.

Louise, one of Helen’s pals, was happy to make the long journey from Westbourne Park because this geezer she was keen on had told her he was going down too.

When we got to the massive, empty venue, we went up to say hello to one of Nicky’s colleagues, a garage DJ named JM Easy who’d somehow got himself on a bill headlined by the Rat Pack and Top Buzz, if I recall correctly. It slowly got busier but, coming after the freewheeling excesses of the Dream nights at the Trades Club in Leeds, the atmosphere seemed strangely muted. An alternately bizarre and scary procession of hard-faced skeletor-ravers were still coming into the place but nobody seemed to be having too good a time.

Luckily, Michael was also bringing a load of Es along too, so it was particularly nice to meet this smiley, charming West London boy when he finally turned up at 2am, just as our own pills were starting to wear off. Me and Michael got on well – not half as well as him and Louise, granted, although our relationship was ultimately longer lasting.

He was bright and affable but with a bit of an edge (you could tell he was no angel, but his heart was in the right place), he was as dry as fuck and a mad Tottenham fan. He seemed to know everyone and was the perfect guide to London’s after-hours party scene.

We all went back to Louise’s, got into a right state, stayed up all night being daft, drinking, smoking weed, taking the piss out of each other’s spliffs, necking more Es, all that stuff. We hit it off. It was a meeting of minds. We were both normal, working class lads, who, while we weren’t by any stretch of the imagination what you’d call high achievers at the time, had a bit of potential.

Michael ended up getting me gigs at a couple of Rhythm Method parties, one in a stately home near scenic Hay-on-Wye (the exteriors for the Basil Rathbone version of The Hound of The Baskervilles were filmed there, allegedly), one in a bus depot in not-so-scenic Hackney. I don’t think I impressed anyone with my decks-terity.

I didn’t get asked back twice, put it that way. But given that I didn’t have decks for the first 15 or so years or my DJing ‘career’ – in fact I didn’t even have a record player for much of the time – and had to snatch a couple of hours practice on mates’ decks when I could, it’s probably not that surprising.

I wasn’t going to let a little thing like having no means of playing records stop me from buying them, obviously.

I’ve never been one for getting intimidated in record shops. I’ve worked in a few of them myself and anyway, nine times out of ten I’m just as nerdy and geeky, if not nerdier and geekier than any record shop staff member. Just take a look at this fucking blog.

But Blackmarket is the kind of record shop I probably would’ve been intimidated by, if I’d not gone down with Michael one busy Saturday afternoon. He was friendly with Nicky Blackmarket so he introduced us and I told him the kind of stuff I was into – not too fast, not too busy hardcore, with dubby basslines, ragga stylings, and no daft hoover or fairground noises, thank you very much.

And it’d be good if it was stuff nobody else up north would have, while we’re at it.

I’m pretty sure one of the records Nicky sorted me out with was Bad Girl. It was a bit fast for my tastes but that’s what the pitch control is for, right?

Bad Girl was put together by Chris McFarlane aka CMC aka Bad Girl aka Potential Bad Boy and was a virtual masterclass in hardcore production with an irrepressible energy and a slightly deranged dynamic. Think jittery breaks, a mesmerising, absorbing, subby-bassline, old-skool bleeps, and an infuriatingly catchy pitched up “Bad Bad Girls .. Bad Gal” vocal which sounded like it was performed with the aid of a big canister of helium.

It was a crazy record for a crazy, crazy time. Kicks Like A Mule’s bonkers collection of sub-base and rhythmic thuds that was The Bouncer came out the same year. I remember seeing it on This Morning during the school holidays and they had some kind of phone-in poll whether they should play the video or not. I’m guessing a million kids rang in and they had to play it, with the presenters sticking their fingers in their ears, screwing their faces up, the lot. Hilarious. Can anyone tell me how it got to number one?

Semi-interesting diversion: I met my very good friend Badly Drawn Boy in the pub the other night and was chatting to him about all this shit. He told me that The Bouncer was written by the guy who signed him to XL Recordings, Richard Russell. Not a lot of people know that.

I was going to do a regular item on my Dream FM show called Why Did They Do That? where I’d play the latest kid’s TV-sampling rave-nonsense, but I never got round to it. Doctorin’ The Tardis and Charly (which, I’d suggest, remains a brilliant record to this day) were the first examples, swiftly followed by a million exploitative cut-and-paste jobs utilising bits of The Magic Roundabout, Seasame Street, Rhubarb & Custard, Woody Woodpecker, Blockbusters – there were loads of them, each one more infantile and annoying than the last.

The worst one I got sent sampled the theme tune from Black Beauty and featured what sounded like someone playing coconut shells. I wish I’d kept it.

There was a local band called PBT who got quite popular, locally. They had a couple of big tunes, one – Just 4U – that made it onto vinyl, another which was a load of breaks and a sample of the riff from the theme tune to the BBC’s cricket coverage. They used to perform it wearing cricket whites.

They were a bunch of rough-around-the-edges lads from Cleckhuddersfax way, the most charming of whom was Dave, or MC Pointblank as he styled himself, a young lad who’d joined the army to see the world and found himself invading Kuwait to liberate it from Iraqi occupation. The guy who wrote all the music was supposed to be a bit of a keyboard virtuoso but also, unfortunately, he was a card-carrying nazi too.

Of course, I only found this out after I’d interviewed them for the decidedly left-of-centre worker’s co-op what’s on mag, the Northern Star, I was writing for at the time. I didn’t have much to do with them as a band after, although Dave came in on a few of my radio shows and we got off it and had a bit of banter. I probably should’ve just concentrated on mixing the records properly.

I had different shows at different times and different days through the week. I’d always played all sorts of stuff on the radio and I went wherever my ever-expanding tastes took me. I had no problem playing a couple of hours of hardcore and then switching to housier sounds for the rest of the show.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I would’ve played Bad Girl on Dream FM though. The “herb a weed and weed a ganja, ganja a weed and a weed a marijuana” vocal sample, even pitched up to helium-inhalation levels of squeakiness, wouldn’t have passed muster with the boss who had a big, big downer on swearing, drug references, threats of violence etc over the radio. That kind of thing didn’t go down well with the local DTI guy, so if you played any dodgy stuff, and the boss heard it, you got suspended.

Jo was a listener from Wortley in fashionable west Leeds who one afternoon heard me moaning about how difficult it was to play records and answer the phone at the same time, so she rang up and volunteered her services.

Though she was, and still is, mad into electro – which translated into her taking x amount of wiz and busting some very impressive bad-ass Crazy-Legs-Crane moves at Dream FM parties – Jo really liked the ragga-tinged hardcore stuff that I played and even tolerated my excursions into house and garage, so we used to have a bit of a laugh.

I don’t think Jo will mind me saying that it was a bit of a thrill for her to be involved with the inner workings of the mighty Dream FM – it was exactly the same for me, initially, although it wasn’t really mighty then. She seemed a bit timid when she first showed up but that soon changed. Unfortunately, I was playing less and less of the hardcore which had first attracted her to my shows and it wasn’t long before I stopped playing it completely, more or less.

The scene was splitting into the hyper-infantilism of kiddie-rave and the equally hyper moodiness of jungle – ironically enough, with its pitched-up vocal, speeded up breaks and ragga stylings, Bad Girl was one of the very first jungle tracks – and neither of them were doing much for me.

I didn’t sell any of my hardcore stuff but I stopped buying it and I lost a lot of them in a house move from Harehills to Armley a while after me and Helen had split up.

These days, it doesn’t seem like anyone else really thinks Bad Girl is a particularly special record. The only place I’ve ever seen it mentioned is in, I think, Energy Flash, Simon Reynold’s book about the evolution of UK dance culture in the Eighties and Nineties.

I was in town the other day so inevitably I ended up in Vinyl Exchange. I pick up a Camper Van Beethoven album for a tenner and, you’ve guessed it, Bad Girl for just five of your English pounds.

It still sounds great to me. I can’t get my head around it. Why so cheap? I’m not complaining, mind ..

See also: Trip ll The Moon by Acen, Some Justice by Urban Shakedown, Charly by the Prodigy and 2009 pirate radio feature

29 Comments

Filed under hardcore / rave, hip replacement

29 responses to “Bad Girl by Bad Girl (Ibiza Records)

  1. john eden

    Out to all vegetable liberating dub techno massif!

    Did you see the interview with Mark Iration in Woofah #1 where he talks about all the Ital Rockers stuff?

  2. john eden

    Ah you’re welcome – I will get you a copy. As you know Mark you will understand that he is not a man of few words! ;-)

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  4. undeleted

    I didn’t see that, John. Doh! What did he say then?

    I remember the night he took his track Mental Dub into the Warehouse – Roy the DJ must’ve played it about half a dozen times.

    A few years later, Mark came down to a blues I used to play in – it could’ve been 45s on Spencer Place – and played a load of Ital Rockers dub plates he’d just knocked up. The stuff he played was so good it was just ridiculous – it sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before.

    Very talented man.

    Thanks for the comment Mr E!

  5. undeleted

    Marvellous. Let me know if you need a mailing address and I’ll email it over. The thoughts of Chairman Mark – can’t wait.

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  7. Big Chris

    I’ve got Marks number somewhere if you need it… … … …

  8. undeleted

    S’alright Big Chris, I’ll just read the interview John did for now. But if you have an mp3 of that Mental Dub hanging about …

  9. undeleted

    Thank you Paul. I’m trying to get as much stuff out there as I can before my memory packs up completely .. it’s fading fast!

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  11. Jez

    Hey Undeleted!!

    how you doing?

    VLF – memories emerging from the fog…. its all a bit of a blur

  12. undeleted

    Jez! Brilliant to hear from you! How the heck? Got to go out now – Roisin Murphy – but I’ll back to you later .. how on Earth did you find the blog?

    You’ve made my day!

    xx

  13. undeleted

    I will email you up, you old reprobate. Don’t leave me hanging!

  14. luke una

    hey luke una b here old boy. Im finally dipping my toes in this digital revolution malarkey.loved the hardcore article. Funny i was in Sheffield in the 80s and saw the early Warp scene lay alot of the foundations for early hardcore with its basslines n bleeps,ruffness and soundsytem vision.It was musically one of the most exciting times.Raw stripped to the marrabone steel city funk.I remember the total tribal insanity when the likes of Winston n Parrot dropped Testone,Forgemasters,Lfo and Mentok to a mainly black crowd jazz dancing crowd.It was unreal. A real hidden chapter in the history of the uk underground.To be honest It was heavier and deeper than the Mancs vibe at the time at the Hacienda,although i loved both cities.Sheffield in 1985/6 was that awesome fusion where chicago and Detroit met Cabaret Voltaire in a Sheffield shabeen.In my mind they led the way and it was a very inspiring time. Wow it still sends tingles down my spine just remembering ending up in Pitsmoor with freaks,House kids,the jazz dancers and Sheffield United hooligans taking the fiercest wizz and jacking for hours.Fucking ace. Have to say though that was my only real connection with the hardcore scene ,upto early 1991.I went away for a year and when i returned it was 20 bpm faster and had gone daft.However i missed alot of those tunes you were digging and id love to hear some of that stuff after 91. big love luke.repect to Rotherhamx Up the blades!!

  15. undeleted

    Yeah, I somehow managed to miss out mentioning all that Warp stuff – we liked all that stuff and there was a bleep connection in Leeds with LFO and Nightmares on Wax but I think Sheffield was probably where it was at.

    I remember going to Jive Turkey at the City Hall one night. It was more housey than bleepy but lots of fun. Great days Luke, great days!

    I’ve been listening to Walls of Jericho by the Cabs a lot recently. Totally intense and mind-bending moody electronica. 1981 was it? It’s just takes the piss. Ridiculous.

    Let’s keep sectarianism away from here. Unless you’re slagging mods off, because they’re cunts, clearly.

    Great to hear from you man, thanks for the comment.

  16. uOnExz Thanks for good post

  17. Top post this one.

    Had a couple of Ibiza releases but alas we went our separate ways, I think one of them was called 150 BPM.

    Many thanks for evoking some old memories.

    Kind regards

    Ali

  18. undeleted

    Cheers Ali, I’m glad you like the piece.

    Go Bang Brighton seems pretty interesting and right up my street. I will have a look through and perhaps leave drunken comments in the middle of the night.

    Have a good weekend and thanks again for stopping by.

  19. Jo

    Aww thanks for the mention, I did love being up there, you made my day when you said I could answer the phone for you.
    The only reason I left is because when I went to work in the office for the boss he got sooo paranoid and said I had put a virus on the computer to sabotage Dream ha ha, he was completely insane. He said he was going to put posters up around Leeds telling everybody what I was supposed to have done. Then a couple of weeks later he changed his mind and asked me to come back and I said no way, he had a habit of doing that with people lol….
    Even after all that though I had a good couple of years there & I still miss those days aww RIP Dream FM.
    Hope you had a good Christmas & New Year Mr Undeleted xx

    • undeleted

      Hey Jo, good to hear from you. The General could be a crazy mad fucker at times, couldn’t he? I was actually very fond of him but he didn’t half make it difficult sometimes. Ultimately, I suppose, he was right to be paranoid about the DJs’ loyalty to the station – a lot of them (me included, I’m ashamed to say), did the dirty on him when the West Yorkshire license came up. The phrase ‘rats off a sinking ship’ comes to mind.

      There’s a bloody good book in it, I reckon. Sex, drugs, house music, intrigue, betrayal, lies, corruption .. it’s practically a Greek tragedy. Are we due a reunion yet? Probably be easiest to do it in HMP Armley!

      And a happy new year to you too!
      xx

  20. Jo

    Yeah our most valued listeners, big up the Armley HMP crew ha ha.
    To be honest I don’t think if he had got the licence Dream would have lasted long, the man was completley insane hehe. The thing is though it was the one’s that he kept sacking that were the most loyal.

    Not sure about a reunion though there’s a few people I’d like to see, but some well, anyway alot of them changed after I left so I probably wouldn’t know them anyway :))

    Speak to you soon xx

  21. undeleted

    I will get another hardcore / Dream FM piece together eventually Jo, promise. And ta very much for the comments ..

    xx

  22. Bad Girl is rarely mentioned in lists of great hardcore tunes, unjustly.
    Nice one for bringing those memories back!

  23. It’s a pleasure Neil. I don’t get the invisibility of Bad Girl myself but I guess it must have been pretty obscure in the first place. The victors write the histories, I suppose.

    Fuck it, we know it’s a great record, so who cares what anyone else thinks? They’ll catch on eventually.

    Glad to help with the memories Neil. And apparently stimulating long-term memory helps with short term memory, so that’s a bonus.

  24. Juz

    Hi, this is a v. interesting article – I’m particularly interested in your mentioning Rhythm Method. I went to one of their parties some time around late Dec. 92 or early 93. It was in a large warehouse (maybe a disused bus garage?) and I THINK there was a fire station behind – I do remember lots of people leaning out of the windows and craning their necks trying to see what was going on!

    I remember only 2 or 3 records from the whole night (I was still new to progressive house then): that repetitive “It’s gonna be a lovely day for you and me just wait and see” with the pitch-bend on the second verse (C&C Music Factory?), possibly Lionrock (with dub reggae noises etc.) and also Xpansions – Elevation (Move Your Body) which was played at 9am when the lights were on and everyone went wild!

    Does this info ring any bells? No special reason other than trying to join the dots of my past, but if you were there then I’d love to know if you recall the actual date of this event and the location. Cheers! Juz

    • JS

      Hi, found this searching for anything on RM parties. Think the party you are remembering was at a disused bus garage in Waterden Lane next to the old Hackney Stadium and now the middle of the Olympic site lol. It was a Rhythm Method party in March 93 called Brighter Days. DJ’s included Mark Shimmon and Mark Le Hat. There exists a video produced by RM called Nightfall which has 4 RM parties on it, this one the last. I bought a copy at their next party….same venue. keep meaning to convert it and upload onto youtube so keep searching….might get round to it one of these days.

      • Juz

        That’s really useful info – thanks for that. Yes, would be brilliant if you could upload the footage some time, would bring back happy memories!

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