Category Archives: hardcore / rave

Some Justice by Urban Shakedown (Urban Shakedown Recordings)

WHEN Michael Eavis decided that the Glastonbury should take a year off in 1991, he spent a lot of his  time trying to work out a way of keeping freeloaders and other non-paying fellow-travellers out of the festival. The idea he came up with was to surround the entire site with a very big fence.

The following year Tom Jones, Blur, Television, the Fall, Curve, Primal Scream, the Levellers, PJ Harvey, Carter USM, James, the Breeders, Billy Bragg, Van Morrison, Kitchens of Distinction and  Spritualized were on the bill – and numbers of fence-hoppers were right down.

Among the thousands of lucky festival-goers were my then-girlfriend and me, inveterate freeloaders both. We’d managed to blag into the festival by writing a lengthy preview for the magazine we both worked for at the time.

I don’t recall seeing any of the bands above – not even the mighty Fall – but we did manage to catch the Shamen, which I think was just about the first time a dance act had played on one of the bigger stages at Glastonbury. Unfortunately, “good lights” is about the most either of us can remember about this groundbreaking performance. But they were always pretty good live, weren’t they, the Shamen?

“I think you and I only stayed two nights and didn’t sleep at all. We were up all night and too hot to sleep in the tent in the day. I do remember it wasn’t a lot of fun really,” says that same ex-girlfriend now. “Too hot, too skint, too tired, too paranoid, too scared of the toilets, going off crowds so only really being able to cope at night… Maybe you enjoyed it more.”

I probably did. I didn’t even notice how bad a time she was having, which probably says a lot.

I’ve just got a loose jumble of disembodied memories from the weekend. One of the most vivid is of an ambulance inching its way through a very packed crowd after one of the big acts had finished on the Pyramid stage one night. Some drug-nut planted himself square in front of it, crying and bellowing and wailing his heart out, not letting them by until they promised to take him away too. We’ve all been there, I’m sure.

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Charly by the Prodigy (XL Recordings)

E-COMMERCE meant something very different to what it means today.

It’s not like we didn’t have good reason. It seemed like Thatcher had been around forever and she didn’t appear to be in a hurry to relinquish her icy, vice-like grip on the throat of the body politic. We were in recession again, apparently, though I don’t remember noticing the last recession ending. Must’ve missed that bulletin.

Under the circumstances, it really did seem like drugs were the only rational response. Just say Yo!

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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.

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Trip II The Moon by Acen (Production House)

TUHIN, recruitment consultant, major-league caner, and my then girlfriend’s ecstasy pal, drove us to the gig, as he often did, with his three year old contact lenses burning their way through his eyeballs – so that’s probably why we got there fashionably late. I may even have been on the radio immediately beforehand, who knows?

The details are all a bit sketchy. Please feel free to add your own recollections if you were there – and your memory is less shot to pieces than mine.

library.jpgOutside the venue, an old library building on the corner of Hyde Park that the boss had somehow managed to hire, there were hundreds of kids, mostly teenagers from Leeds and its suburbs, who had been attracted by all the on-air hype for the party in the preceding weeks. I’m guessing this would be around 1991 or 1992, when everyone in the world seemed to be tuning in, turning on and dropping out – and most of them seemed to be tuning into Dream FM.

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