Sunday, 23 February 2020
A list of records that I love out of all proportion to their importance or impact would include Special One by Ultra Vivid Scene, a single from the New York band's second album (released in 1990 so nothing to do with the self- proclaimed special one Jose Mourinho). Ultra Vivid Scene were largely the work of one man, Kurt Ralske, who made two albums for 4AD, both packed with alternative guitar songs, Velvets inspired melodies and Mary Chain style drums and bass. Special One is a brilliant little song, instantly bringing Vox teardrop guitars, valve amps and wraparound sunglasses to mind and has Kim Deal on backing vox singing the 'how do you think it feels?' line.
The Special One single was a four track e.p. Of the three B-sides this is the best, a slow crawl through the streets at dawn.
Lightning (72 BPM/4 A.M.)
Nothing really happened for Ultra Vivid Scene. Apparently they played some gigs in London to support the second album, Joy 1967- 1990, that were terrible, 4AD's staff begging the room full of journalists not to review them. The first self titled album still gets played round here from time to time as does Joy 1967- 1990. There was a third in 1992 called Rev which I've never heard.
Saturday, 22 February 2020
The first version of Loaded was in Weatherall's own words 'too polite' and Andrew Innes encouraged him to go back and 'fucking destroy it'. Primal Scream had nothing to lose. At this point Gillespie, Innes and Throb were still unconvinced about acid house despite Alan McGee's enthusiasm but had met Weatherall at a rave and were happy for him to remix the song. Weatherall set about taking the song to pieces and remaking it.
I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have
Taking the horns from the end section of the original song and Henry Olsen's rolling bassline Weatherall stitched Peter Fonda's famous dialogue from The Wild Angels, a 1966 biker film, to the start of the song.
The question, 'Just what is it that you want to do?' is asked by Frank Maxwell. Fonda replies with his rallying call- 'we want to be free, we want to be free, to do what we want to do... and we want to get loaded and we want to have a good time'. The part about riding 'our machines without being hassled by the man' was cut. I've often thought there should be a version with that part included. Fonda's declaration had been used before, not least by Psychic TV (Weatherall was a big PTV fan). It sums up the spirit of the times perfectly.
The drumbeat with its massive crash cymbal came from Edie Brickell And The New Bohemians, a bootleg version of their hit What I Am, which in turn had been borrowed from a Soul II Soul record (and that was sampled from elsewhere).
What I Am (Bootleg)
The 'I don't want to lose your love' vocal part, the bit where on a dancefloor or at a gig everyone is singing in unison regardless of their ability to hit the notes, comes from a 1976 song by The Emotions.
The only bit of Bobby Gillespie that made it onto the record is the vocal part at 3.09 where he sings 'we're gonna get deep down, deep down, woo hey!' in response to Frank Maxwell's repeated question. Gillespie's vocal is from a cover of a Robert Johnson song, Terraplane Blues, presumably something the Scream had recorded but never released. There's an 'ah yeah' bit at about five minutes which sounds like Bobby, some ace slide guitar and acoustic guitar, some lovely Italo house piano and Innes' crunchy guitar parts that make the breakdown before we are launched back in.
The song was pressed up onto acetate and then some promos for DJs and as summer turned into autumn people began to notice the impact it had on dance floors. The rhythms evoke Sympathy For The Devil, the shuffling groove, and crowds in clubs began to chant the 'woo woo' part spontaneously. Loads of people have described their reactions to being told this monster rave anthem was the work of Primal Scream, the disbelief, the shaking of heads and then the wide eyed joy of becoming a believer. Members of Primal Scream have recounted being phoned by Weatherall and others in the small hours excitedly describing the effect Loaded was having on a floor right there and then. It was finally given its full released in February 1990, Creation finding themselves with a hit on their hands. Loaded reached number sixteen in the UK and propelled the band into the Top of The Pops studios where Gillespie wriggled with his maracas, black leather and long hair, feet seemingly glued to the spot. Ride's Mark Gardener was drafted in to mime on the keyboards, Throb is resplendent in teddy boy red and Innes pulls all the moves, Les Paul, hippy shirt and long curls. For a song that has such deep roots, that sent thousands of indie kids hurtling to the dance floor and still raises the roof when played at parties, it's an odd TV performance that doesn't quite nail it. And of course, the man who made it is nowhere to be seen.
Friday, 21 February 2020
It's amazing how the internet throws things up- this clip is The Stone Roses performing Fools Gold on Dutch TV in 1989. We've all seen the the famous Top Of the Pops performance, some of us many, many times, but until the other night I'd never seen this clip before. I didn't know it existed. Ian, John, Reni and Mani at the height of their cool, all four giving it the insouciant, hair growing out, swagger that was a massive part of their appeal. The crowd, considering this a mimed performance, are going for it too. Dutch kids clearly knew the score.
Thursday, 20 February 2020
I could probably go on posting Andrew Weatherall related music all week and into next but I'll make this the last one for the time being, a third celebration of his life and music following his passing earlier this week. The further I go into the remixes he did in the early 90s the more of them I recall that I didn't write about yesterday- West India Company, Word Of Mouth, Deep Joy, That Petrol Emotion all spring to mind. The mid 90s Two Lone Swordsmen period is so full of music and remixes that it would take years to go through it all and then there are the ones done under other names from that time- Rude Solo, Lino Squares, Basic Units, the wondrous deep house recorded with David Harrow as Deanne Day, his partnership with Harrow as Blood Sugar, the beautifully chilled piano dub of the Planet 4 Folk Quartet track (also with David Harrow). There's also all the minimal techno, dub and electronic weirdness released on the various Emissions labels in the 90s from people such as Blue, Conemelt, Turbulent Force, Alex Handley, Technova (David Harrow again) and Bionic.
Released on Emissions Audio Output in 1996 Hardly Breathe is fifteen minutes of sumptuous deep house, bass to shake your speakers and a breathy vocal from 'Deanne'.
In the same year Weatherall went back to the BBC and recorded his second Essential Mix. The first was a groundbreaking charge through Weatherall's record box three years earlier, opening with Killing Joke and Sabres and taking in Brother Love Dubs, Smokebelch, Plastikman, LFO, Black Dog and Innersphere along the way, two hours of techno that was taped and shared and re-taped. In 1996 his second Essential Mix was possibly even better, a journey into the heart of the Two Lone Swordsmen sound- minimal, bass led, crisp machine drums, on the button, Andrew re-working the material including four of his own records as he plays it. Two hours of the art of the DJ.
Jumping forward to 2009 and a mix he did for Fact Magazine which I listened to endlessly at that time and plundered for posts at Bagging Area in its early days. Fact Mix 85 skips from genre to genre in an effortless manner, playing post- punk, rockabilly, Stockholm Monsters, Durutti Column, Mogwai and Pete Wylie. The tracklist is here. Earlier on in 2009 he did a 6 Music show where he'd played Wayne Walker's All I Can Do Is Cry (also on Fact Mix 85), a song that I heard for the first time there and that then became the subject of the first ever piece of blogging I did (a guest slot at The Vinyl Villain).
Fact Mix 85
This one is more recent, the man playing at Terraforma near Milan in Italy, a Music's Not For Everyone style set and is the best fifty two minutes of audio/visual fun you'll have today. Songs from Fujiya Miyagi, The Dream Syndicate, Moon Duo, AMOR, played a field full of dancing Italians half his age.
In 2003 Primal Scream released a greatest hits called Dirty Hits, a version of their history that opened with Loaded, Weatherall's mangling of the Scream's I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have, with steals from Peter Fonda, Edie Brickell and The Emotions. Loaded, in a piece of timing that is remarkable, came out thirty years ago yesterday. Anyway, the sleeve notes to Dirty Hits were written by Andrew Weatherall and conclude thus...
'Feeling humble, having served... now carry me home.'
Now you'll have to excuse me because I've got something in my eye again.
Wednesday, 19 February 2020
I mentioned the remixes Andrew Weatherall made his name with yesterday. In the early 90s remix culture became the big thing, record companies throwing thousands of pounds at club DJs to stick dance beats underneath a song. Weatherall's remixes never took the easy road, were never formulaic. In most cases the remixes were better than the source material and he was still producing superb remixes until recently.
Primal Scream have put out several Best Of/ Greatest Hits, one only last year. The one they haven't released and would be the contender for the best Best Of would be the one that compiled Weatherall's work for the group. The AW/PS compilation wold start with Loaded, a remix so groundbreaking and gigantic it created an entire scene and gave the Scream a career. Andrew's remix of Come Together is monumental. I once said here that there are days when I think it is the single greatest record ever made and I don't see any reason to argue with myself.
'Today on this programme you will hear gospel and rhythm and blues and jazz. All these are just labels, we know that music is music'
The rest of Screamadelica that Andrew produced would be on this Primal Scream Best Of too- Inner Flight, Shine Like Stars, Don't Fight It Feel It (and the amazing Scat Mix where Denise Johnson's voice is chopped up and scattered over the track) and the Jah Wobble bass of Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts). Then this, ten glorious minutes of slow groove, horn driven spaced out house, from the Dixie Narco e.p.
His knob- twiddling on the other two songs on the Dixie Narco e.p. brought two other classics in the shape of Stone My Soul and their cover of Dennis Wilson's Carry Me Home, one of the very best things Bobby Gillespie and co ever did. Primal Scream's follow up was their Rolling Stones record. Weatherall produced remixes of Jailbird. Trainspotting from Vanishing Point. The far out Two Lone Swordsmen remix of Stuka. The pair of productions he did on Evil Heat- the gliding shimmer of Autobahn 66 and the mutant funk of A Scanner Darkly. Two TLS remixes of Kill All Hippies. Bloods. The fifteen minute remix of Uptown, a signpost in 2009 that Weatherall was back at the remix peak. The remix and dub version of 2013. The stretched out remix of Goodbye Johnny. That's the Primal Scream Best Of.
In the early 90s his remixes broke genres, chucking in the kitchen sink, its plumbing, the work surface and all the white goods too. His dub remix of Saint Etienne was a moment of clarity for me, the doorway to another world, the two halves glued together by the sample 'the DJ, eases a spliff from his lyrical lips and smilingly orders ''cease!'' '
Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix Of Two Halves)
Andrew's remixes from this period are full of little moments to raise a smile, samples from obscure places, huge basslines, sudden changes in pace or tempo, piano breakdowns and thumping rhythms. Almost every single one is worth seeking out and almost every single one has been posted here at some point. In no particular order- S'Express' Find 'Em, Fool 'Em, Forget 'Em, The Drum by The Impossibles, a mad pair of remixes of Flowered Up's Weekender, the magnificent The World According To... for Sly And Lovechild, his work for One Dove (that produced some career high remixes in the shape of Squire Black Dove Rides Out and the Guitar Paradise version of White Love and his production work on the most beautiful and most lost of the lost albums of the 1990s Morning Dove White), his remix of My Bloody Valentine's Soon, on its own a justification of remix culture and two reworkings of The Orb's Perpetual Dawn that take his and The Orb's dub roots into pounding new places. Roots music.
Perpetual Dawn Ultrabass I
Perpetual Dawn Ultrabass II
Add to all these his remixes of Jah Wobble, three versions of Visions Of You, spread over twenty five minutes of vinyl and two remixes of Bomba that have to be heard to be believed. Decades after first hearing this one I found the source of the madcap intro (Miles Davis) when it had been there in the title all along.
Bomba (Miles Away)
His remixes of The Grid's Floatation are also sublime. As a fan of The Stone Roses the moment when he drops John Squire's guitar part from Waterfall into the ending of the track brought things together for me perfectly.
Floatation (Sonic Swing Mix)
There are so many more. The speaker shattering thump of Fini Tribe's 101. His long tribal workout of Papua New Guinea. The sweet smell of didgeridoo on Galliano's meandering Skunk Funk. The wide eyed mixes of A Man Called Adam's CPI. Indie, ambient, house, dub, everything from the fringes of music's past, ready to sample and plunder to make something new, with a sense of possibility and openness. This would all be mere nostalgia were it not for Weatherall's continual left turns and about turns in the following years. His remixes from the last decade, again almost all posted here at some point, are of a similar high standard but he rarely if ever repeats himself. There are similarities in tone and palette but always with an eye looking forward and perpetual motion. The remix of MBV's Soon and his remix of Fuck Buttons Sweet Love For Planet Earth seem somehow linked to me, the manipulation of noise and the intense melodies found within over crunching dance floor rhythms. I've not even begun to touch on his remixes with Sabres of Paradise, the treasure that lies within Sabres own records (Sabresonic, Haunted Dancehall, Theme, Wilmot, oh man, Wilmot- we were at Cream once waiting for ages for Weatherall to arrive and eventually word came through that he was delayed, wasn't going to make it. Resident DJ and owner Darren Hughes played on and dropped Wilmot, unheard by us at that point, the whole back room skanking to those wandering horns).
Then there was Two Lone Swordsmen whose remixes were harder, purer somehow, more focused, less obvious. It took time sometimes for them to reveal themselves. The TLS albums from The Fifth Mission onward, the stoned hip hop grooves of A Virus With Shoes, the double album of juddering bass and London machine funk of Tiny Reminders, Swimming Not Skimming. My favourite of the TLS albums from this period has become Stay Down. Released on Warp from its cover art, a painting of a pair of deep sea divers, to its memorable song titles (try Hope We Never Surface, Light The Last Flare, Spine Bubbles, Mr Paris' Monsters and As Worldly Pleasures Wave Goodbye for starters- that last one has just made me gulp) it is a self contained mini- masterpiece. Stay Down is an abstract album of short tracks, weird, rhythmic, minimal ambient music, sounding like it has been submerged and then recovered from the deep, humanised analogue IDM. Never standing still, always moving forward.
Light The Last Flare
Tuesday, 18 February 2020
This is a post I didn't expect to be writing. Andrew Weatherall died in hospital yesterday of a pulmonary embolism aged fifty six. This unwanted piece of news turned up in a Whatsapp group and then my social media timelines, people who were fans or had connections with him, were deluged with reactions, tributes and memories and his music. It goes without saying that this blog has reflected my love for the man's work. This is the 499th time that I've tagged 'Andrew Weatherall' on a post and his music and influence has been the subject of my writing since Bagging Area's first week of existence back in January 2010. My personal history with Lord Sabre goes back twenty years before that, to 1990 and his first remixes. Loaded, Hallelujah, Come Home and Only Love Can Break Your Heart. Raise by Bocca Juniors. It all started there and then mushroomed in spectacular style, from Screamadelica in 1991 to his most recent works in the Woodleigh Research Facility and solo records. It's not an exaggeration to say that a huge swathe of records and CDs I've bought since 1990, shelf upon shelf of artefacts (plus books, T-shirts, prints and posters) are because of his involvement as producer, musician or remixer or because in some way he recommended them, through interviews in the music press, articles written for magazines and websites, out DJing, warming up for bands, club nights recorded onto cassette, internet DJ mixes and his regular radio shows for 6 Music and most recently NTS.
I had a number of encounters with him in real life, DJing at club nights and events. In the 1990s Weatherall was a regular at Cream, the Liverpool superclub. He played in the backroom, a dark box of a place where we- me, Lou, Nick, Meanie, Mandy, Ian, Vinnie, Julia, Ross, Amanda and others- gathered on a monthly basis to dance to his sets, mad techno, dub and electro that often ended with the room bouncing in unison in an acid house pogo. The train ride over from Manchester to Liverpool would be filled with anticipation and the return journey the day after with the warm glow of a night well spent. There was a night at the Hacienda circa 1993 I attended which has gone down in legend but of which I remember little except that it was the stuff that reputations rest on. At some point he played Sankey's Soap, then an outpost in a post- industrial wasteland north of Manchester city centre. Somehow (via Julia I think who had an acquaintance with Ian Weatherall, Andrew's brother) we were on the guestlist. We arrived at the front of the queue, our names checked against the list on the clipboard and then the door-woman called across the courtyard to the inner door 'these are Andy's guests, they can go straight in'. I floated across the courtyard.
In 1998, very close to the birth of our first child Isaac, we went to a performance at the Cornerhouse on Oxford Road. Weatherall was playing records to accompany a screening of the 1922 silent movie classic Nosferatu, music, sounds and noises to go with the freakiest film of early cinema. Isaac, in utero, at some point found it all a bit much- a limb protruded and made a wave from inside Lou's stomach, like a shark's fin in time to the ghostly soundtrack. This event doesn't exist anywhere on the internet (or least I've never found any record of it). In modern parlance, 'pics or it didn't happen'. But it did happen, I was there. I went out a bought a pair of Levi's cinchback jeans not long afterwards as a result of Mr Weatherall wearing a pair that night. When he put together the Nine O'Clock Drop compilation album in 2000, punk funk ahead of the curve, one of the gnomic remarks on the inner sleeve was to 'keep your secrets, they're all we've got'. The Nosferatu Cornerhouse event fits into that ethos.
In the early 00s at a venue on Oldham Street called Planet K we saw him play a minimal electro/ techno set, sparsely attended but musically perfect (also attended by Johnny Marr if memory serves). There was a night at The Music Box on Oxford Road with Keith Tenniswood, part of a Two Lone Swordsmen tour done with turntables and laptops. Later on in 2008 or 2009 TLS had become a rock 'n' roll band, playing the songs from the excellent Wrong Meeting albums, garage and rockabilly inspired music with Weatherall on vocals and Chris Rotter on guitar. Chris and James Fyffe on Facebook have both hinted at times when that band played a festival, went down like a sack of shit with a crowd clearly wanting something else, and then overdid it recreationally. Fail we may, sail we must.
More recently, since 2010, in partnership with with Sean Johnston Weatherall put on a roaming club night called A Love From Outer Space, an oasis of slow in a world ever speeding up, slow motion, cosmische chug, transporting and transcendent music. I attended one just under a year ago at The Refuge and had a ball. There was an ALFOS night at The White Hotel in Salford a couple of weeks ago which I missed for a variety of reasons. Never mind, I thought, they'll be back soon, I'll go next time.
In 2018 Harvey and I travelled over to Liverpool to see Weatherall DJ at a pub called The Merchant in Liverpool, an afternoon drinking beer and listening to a Music's Not For Everyone set of rock 'n' roll, blues and garage rock. I approached him and stumbled through a fairly excruciating exchange (for me)- I was nervous. I met him a couple of times at Cream but only in the end- of- set, handshake, 'nice one, great set, thanks mate' kind of way. In Liverpool two years ago I introduced myself and bumbled my way through some kind of conversation and got a photo of me and him. I always meant to re- introduce myself at a gig, say hi and apologise for my tongue- tied nature in Liverpool, mention the blog (which I neglected to do in 2018- duh). He was familiar with Bagging Area apparently- a friend of his from the old days had been in touch with me once or twice by email to thank me for my work sharing AW's work and said that he, Weatherall, knew of the blog- that on its own blew my mind.
I'm just scratching the surface here and I suspect I'll have more to say this week and beyond. What a loss. A true maverick, a pioneer, a genuine talent, a lovely bloke and an inspiration. My life has been considerably richer because of his. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends for whom all of this is much more personally felt. The world was a better place with Andrew Weatherall in it.
Smokebelch II (Beatless Mix)
Monday, 17 February 2020
Today's long song comes from France and Turkey, a weirded out, industrial dub funk workout with spoken/whispered vocals pushed to the fore over some very seductive mechanical and electronic comings and goings. The original track, Durma, is by a Franco- Turkish duo called Kit Sebastian who say that their music is 'the meeting point of Anatolian psychedelia and Brazilian tropicalia... 60s European pop and American jazz.' The remix by Baris K takes Durma somewhere else entirely.