PICTURE the scene: You’re lost in that magic moment where everything suddenly seems to synchronise, music and movement come together in perfect harmony and you are the best dancer ever, moving to the very best music in the world.
Aglow, translucent, stoned immaculate, you’re about as off your head as you’re ever going to get. It’s all downhill from here. But that’s okay.
Everything is coming in one big rush but you can handle it. You can handle anything. It doesn’t get any better than this.
The next big dramatic breakdown arrives before you know it. And with it the awful, shocking truth that you’re in a big room full of people with whom you have little in common except that you sometimes do the same drugs – and those drugs are rapidly wearing off now we’ve simultaneously arrived at the collective realisation that we are not dancing to the greatest music ever made.
No, we’re actually dancing to a song which is based around a sample from the Magic Roundabout theme tune. We all come back down to Earth with a bump.
And I’m not being funny, but you’re wearing dungarees.
I’m no musical elitist. I’ve got more than my share of thrown-together-in-two-minutes crappy rave tunes cluttering up the house. I acquired vast amounts of breakbeat hardcore records, cynical cut-and-paste cash-in jobs made with very little artistry or skill, some of which I bought, many of which I got for free (there were some perks to DJing on Dream FM, but not many).
It was music with a quick turnaround which merely copied the popular sound of that particular week. It wasn’t meant to be anything but disposable, no-nonsense dance music, pure and simple.
A whole generation of non-musicians were desperately trying to work melodic colour into what were more often than not monochrome rhythm tracks, and the easiest way to do that was with a sampler. Idiot-proof digital copying enabled even the most talent-free musical magpies to sample things that probably could’ve remained unused without anyone worrying about it too much.
I think our troubles really began when K-Klass decided to sample a riff from the BBC kids nature programme Wildtracks for their debut Wildlife EP. Around the same time, I remember buying a tune which sampled Woody Woodpecker. Not good.
And then Liam Howlett had the bright idea of sampling Charly, the Kenny Everett-voiced badly-rendered cartoon cat from a string of public information films in the Seventies. The Prodigy got onto Top of the Pops and a genre was born, with each new kiddie-rave record more banal and anodyne than the last.
By 1991 everyone seemed to be raving. It was no longer an exclusive little club. It was a big Mecca ballroom full of gurning knobheads from Dudley wearing unwashed Ned’s Atomic Dustbin t-shirts, all wanting to shake your hand, give you a sweaty bear-hug and ask the same three questions over and over again:
“What’s your name? Where are you from? What’ve you had?”
Kiddie-rave tunes like Sesame’s Treat by Smart Es, Roobarb & Custard by Shaft and Blockbusters by Skin Up were perfect for punters who were reduced to the level of infants (of varying states of hyperactivity) by all that ecstasy. Inhibitions removed, defences lowered, conditioning reversed, deprogrammed if you like, our naive, childlike inner selves revealed for all to see. It was all very sweet in some ways.
In other ways, it was just embarrassing.
Right at the beginning of all this, you could just about get away with it – after all, didn’t Larry Levan remix C is For Cookie? Eezee Posse ripped off a section of the theme from an old black and white adaptation of Robinson Crusoe for Everything Starts With An E, while Richard D James appropriated a big chunk of Pac-Man’s signature bleeps and warbles for Power Pill and y’know, they’re not that bad. Charly remains a very cool record, obviously. I could listen to all of them today.
I could not say the same about Wardance by F Project (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Magic Style by the Badman (Magic Roundabout) and the self-explanatory Scooby Doo Where Are You by Zenith.
Today, the situation is worse than ever. The technology has moved on to the point where an untrained ape could sample one piece of music and use it to make another – I give you Oxide & Neutrino. We have discovered that six billion monkeys with six billion keyboards will eventually come up with tunes which rehash the music from Deal or No Deal, The Weakest Link, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Dad’s Army. Oh, and a breakbeat remix of the theme from the Antiques fucking Roadshow.
None of these particular crimes against humanity however, come close to the unmitigated vintage rave horror that is Bolt by Horsepower, from the early Nineties.
Missed out your favourite? Feel free to let me know and we can create our own little kiddie-rave hate-wiki.
[Apologies to anyone waiting for me to review your records. My PC is dead and my beautiful shiny new iPad doesn’t cope well with mp3s. Our normal bullshit-hype service will be resumed next month, promise ..]