“WE STARTED DJing about a year and a half ago at this really dodgy nightclub in Keighley called Vicky’s .. We didn’t really know what we were doing but, you know, it didn’t seem to matter. There were loads of people trekking over from Leeds and everyone got right into it and had a good time. We were playing the right tunes”.
Mark Alexander and Steve Farrar are still playing the right tunes in a DJing career that has seen them leave the grim, rural wilds of West Yorkshire to return to their home town, the bright and bustling metropolis that is Leeds.
“We were playing the same stuff as we do now,” says Mark. “Garage, techno, Belgian stuff, mostly techno from America. The charts are for popular music, which is fair enough, but we’re not into playing that kind of thing. We want to keep it underground, keep it hardcore”.
SOCIAL distancing is easy. I’ve been doing it for years. It was record shops being closed that very nearly did me in. That and having no money whatsoever.
Yes. I’m aware that most other people have had much more important things to worry about during lockdown, thanks.
SOMETIMES I think the world is simply too weird without Mark E Smith. Other times, I think it’s not weird enough.
Either way, I miss him. I wish he was still around to enlighten us with his opinion on the hole we find ourselves in today. I wish we had a new Fall album to look forward to rather than an unstoppable stream of reissues of varying quality and morality.
And I wish I could go and see the Fall one last time and wonder what version of MES we’ll be getting tonight, knowing full well it’ll either be very good or very bad but it’ll never be indifferent.
Luckily, the body of work he left behind bears repeated listening. Obviously.
MY WORK is done. Ever since I was introduced to Moloko’s debut album by a girlfriend in Leeds in the mid 90s, I’ve been diligent in returning the favour to womankind by turning a succession of lucky, lucky ladies onto the unparalleled genius of Róisín Murphy.
No, not at all, you are very welcome.
Despite her undoubted star quality, and since this is all about me, I think this perhaps has more to do with Róisín being the vocal-led stuff that I play at home the most that isn’t offensive, abrasive or otherwise objectionable. These perhaps-not-quite-so-lucky ladies were essentially clutching at musical straws.
I’m joking. Who wouldn’t like Róisín’s stuff, once you’ve actually heard it?
I DISCOVERED Hyperculte’s first album while browsing the racks of the in-house record shop at the super-organised and consistently inspiring Zoro squat venue in Leipzig, left there, no doubt, when the hard-working Swiss / French duo (or one of their other musical projects) played a gig in the former vinyl factory.
I can’t think of anywhere better.
I don’t recall what particular section the self-titled album was filed in but, in truth, it could have been any of them. Avant-garde jazz-punk? Pre-kraut post-disco? Trance pop? Take your pick. Hyperculte seem pretty relaxed about genre, categories and boxes.
What I do remember is being struck by the cover image for the album, which featured the duo wearing decidedly un-ironic and bizarre out-size furry costumes by the side of a misty, fairytale lake.
It doesn’t look like they’re having a laugh. The pair of them look like they’re deadly serious, unrepentant, defiant even.
If these hairy chimeras came from some kind of fairy tale, it was clearly one that was infinitely darker, earthier and more primal than the cuddly, sanitised morality tales parents send kids to sleep with today.
In fact, Diego Sanchez’s hugely evocative photography hints at the kind of ancient, amoral, pine-scented central European folklore upon which all that Disney shit is ultimately based.
You can sense a stillness that has sustained for centuries.
It was mysterious, elegant and beautiful. And weird as fuck.
Reader, I bought it.
ONCE upon a time, Crass had been all but erased from history.
They were at the epicentre of a genuine nationwide cultural phenomenon that changed thousands of lives profoundly and yet, a few years after they had ceased working as a band, where anyone took any notice of them at all, they were reduced to a mere footnote in the tawdry tale of corporate rock n roll.
That wasn’t good enough. Erase Crass and you also erase the experience of thousands of people like me, as if what we experienced had no value or validity.
It offended my sense of decency. I wasn’t having it. There are plenty of things in the world to get upset about, but righting this particular wrong was part of the reason why I started writing this blog in the first place.
And now? Everyone seems to be going on about Crass these days. Coincidence?
IT’S DIFFICULT to know where to start with Sergio Mendes.
The veteran Brazilian pianist and arranger has released around 50 albums since he made his name freestyling bossa nova tunes with the cream of Copacabana’s jazz and samba players in tiny after-hours dives in the late Fifties and early Sixties.
As John Peel once said:
“A lot of people write to me and say: ‘I heard Sergio Mendes, which record should I get?’ And I never have any hesitation in telling them, you must get them all. Apart from the one he did with will.i.am.”
THREE or four years after hearing Brandon’s seminal acid house tape, music was coming at me from all directions.
The shock waves from the initial slo-mo house detonation continued to roll around the world – bouncing between Chicago, Detroit and New York, reverberating across the Atlantic to London and Milan before booming back to New York and then back again to Ghent and Antwerp and Frankfurt via Sheffield and Manchester and beyond.
And all of these shockwaves seemed to collide in Leeds in 1992.