A year ago today Andrew Weatherall died. I was sitting in a pub in Didsbury, back in the days when pubs were open and popping into one was the most normal thing you could do. We'd been for a walk around Fletcher Moss Gardens and were having a half term lunchtime pint when I got a message. Within an hour social media was a torrent of outpourings of loss and also of love and affection for the man, and his music filled the internet (or at least the parts of it where I tend to go). In the eleven and a bit years I've been writing this blog I've tagged 567 posts with his name. One in ten posts have been about the man and his music. It could easily be more- I realised this when writing about the Two Lone Swordsmen remixes of Texas recently, a pair of fairly overlooked deep house/ electro remixes from a time (1997) when he was in the shadows (a self imposed shunning of the limelight), a long way from the glory years of Screamadelica and all those early remixes and from the elder statesman/ national treasure status he'd acquired in more recent years. Nearly six hundred posts in and there's so much more in his back catalogue to throw some light on and to write about.
As a DJ he was untouchable. His skills on the turntables weren't just his undoubted technical prowess or his peerless tune selection or his unerring capacity to take a crowd on a journey but the fact that he could play across a wide variety of genres and make all of them sound like his specialism. There are many very successful, well respected and well paid DJs but most of them stick within their field. Andrew could play house or techno or Balearic or dub or electro or exotica or trip hop or rockabilly or ambient and other genres besides and be the expert in the room. A purist with wide tastes, he had a range of interests but had mined each one deeply. The last ten years saw the creation of the travelling club night A Love From Outer Space, a never exceeding 110bpm cosmic disco, a sound he described as 'drug chug', but it constantly evolved, the next night different from the last. Despite this, everything felt like it was joined up, it all came from the same source. The internet is awash with his DJ sets and mixes, a huge, long trip around the styles and nights he played (you can find over one thousand hours of them at the Weatherdrive if you're so inclined).
His monthly residency at NTS radio, his two hour programme called Music's Not For Everyone where he played whatever was tickling his fancy that week, was full of avenues and back alleys for you to disappear down, artists and albums and singles and compilations to uncover and explore. It never felt thrown together, but planned meticulously. Again, on these shows, his taste took in so many styles of music from weird jazz to African funk, 60s psyche and 80s post- punk, acres of dub, his own remixes and the work of people who'd put a CD into his hands at a club or in a pub. Many obscure and unknown artists will attest to him playing their music without them knowing he was doing so, because he'd discovered it somewhere and loved it. He seemed to be endlessly open to the new, to the undiscovered and unheard. In the 90s he often gave records away straight from the turntable at club nights to punters who'd asked him what it was he'd just played.
I've written about his remixes endlessly and the sheer variety is headspinnning: the everything- and- the- kitchen- sink euphoria of the early 90s remixes; the dub in two halves deconstructions; the Sabres Of Paradise remixes that could be rave meets techno, stoned grooves or two a.m. deconstructions; the Two Lone Swordsmen remixes that took a snatch of vocal, twisted it into an unrecognisable shape and built a bassline- led deep house track around it; and the glorious widescreen remixes of the last decade- to pick a handful almost at random, just cue up these ones and see the range and depth of his work, the wide open spaces and giddy ecstasies of his Moby and Wayne Coyne remix, the controlled chaotic noise plus huge rhythms of his Fuck Buttons remix, his grin inducing remix of Out Of The Window by Confidence Man and the deep space glide of his remix of Emiliana Torrini.
In 1991 Andrew and fellow travellers A Man Called Adam met in 'a shitty hotel in Coventry' and Sally and Steve asked him to remix their song The Chrono Psionic Interface. It is one of those early 90s beauties, infused with the spirit of the times, music that suggests endless possibility, open minds and freedom. A Man Called Adam have made it available at their Bandcamp page as a pay- what- you- want deal but if you can pay for it all monies raised will be going to one of Andrew's chosen charities, Thrombosis UK. Get it here.
I was wondering what he might have done with the past year if he'd lived. Lockdown has stirred lots of creativity out of people. Last year's A Certain Ratio album Loco would surely have been accompanied by a Weatherall remix given the links between the two. The monthly W.R.F. EPs carried on without him but eventually he'd have gone back to one of the Facilities and made more music. Maybe he'd have started those memoirs that Lee Brackstone at Faber had suggested to him. Possibilities, maybes and what ifs.
Throughout 2020 I did a series of hour long mixes, most of which were a response to lockdown and the situation we all found ourselves in almost a year ago now. This one, Weatherdub, was a bunch his dub infused productions and remixes stitched together (featuring tracks recorded under his own name and as Sabres Of Paradise with remixes of St Etienne, Steve Mason, Richard Sen, Lark and Meatraffle and the one off recording with David Harrow as Planet 4 Folk Quartet). I did a pair of mixes of songs that came to me because he'd played them, talked about them or listed them in a magazine chart, a brace of tributes to his ears, his record collection and his taste- Songs The Lord Sabre Taught Us One and Two. In December I did a collection of songs from his back catalogue titled Audrey Witherspoon's Blues. Between them I tried to sum up something of the spirit of the man and his music. A year ago in one of the many obituaries and tributes that appeared online as the world ground to a complete halt came from London based magazine Time Out and it's worth quoting the final section in full-