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Wednesday 11 January 2023


Halfway up the towpath between Sale and Timperley (a nice stroll with the promise of a cup of tea and a sausage sandwich at the cafe at Timperley tram station before returning home) there is a post with a Boy's Own sticker on it (pictured). It's a bit mystifying. Boy's Own was very much a London thing and the sticker must be quite recent given it's not faded at all. It was pleasing to see it though, a little piece of 80s/ 90s culture stuck to a post by the Bridgewater Canal. 

Boy's Own was the collective formed by Andrew Weatherall, Terry Farley, Cymon Eckel and Steve Meyes, bored out in the west of London (Slough, Windsor) in the mid- to- late- 80s but with ideas, enthusiasm, records and an interest in clothes, music, clubs and culture. They started a fanzine, semi- inspired by Liverpool fanzine The End (which was produced by The Farm's Peter Hooton). A mate with a printer ran off 500 copies which they sold at the football (Farley was mainly the football fan, a regular at Chelsea), outside pubs and clubs and in a few shops. Their connections and sense of humour and style ensured the first edition sold out and would go on to produce more issues, covering whatever ticlled their interest. Issue one had an interview with Martin Stephenson (of The Daintees), Weatherall's account of a weekend in Manchester at the Festival Of The Tenth Summer, a review of a Trouble Funk gig and a column titled Uppers and Downers, a list of what's in and what's not. It ran for twelve editions through to spring 1992 when Weatherall called time on it and the others agreed with him.

Boy's Own went on to DJ, to put on club nights and events, set up a record label and briefly became a band/ group/ collective called Bocca Juniors- Weatherall and Farley with Pete Heller, Weatherall's regular right hand production man Hugo Nicolson and singer Anna Haigh. Their debut single released in summer 1990, was a tremendous slice of Balearic house called Raise. It was the first release on Boy's Own Productions record label, catalogue number BOIX1, the logical progression of some young men using Letraset, a typewriter and some photocopied pictures to make a fanzine to sell to a few like minded souls. It is a great record too, a summer of 1990 classic. 

Raise (63 Steps To Heaven) Redskin Rock Mix

The intro, some piano notes, the screech of tyres and a sample saying, 'boy! Am I gonna wake you up', gives way to a huge piano riff, the sort that can silence a field of people and turn an entire dancefloor into a seething mass of arms in the air. The crunching beats kick in and Anna starts singing, 'It's often said, that I want never gets...' as horns parp away behind her. The lyrics, written by Weatherall, quote Aleister Crowley- 'do what you will shall be the whole of the law/ raise your view of heaven keeping both feet on the floor'- and the chorus is about generally not putting up with second best- 'raise your hand if you think you understand/ raise your standards if you don't'. Early 90s positivity but with a very Weatherall edge. 

The piano riff has been the subject of some debate. Largely thought to be a sample from Jesus On The Payroll by Thrashing Doves, a while ago Sean Johnston suggested it was actually taken from this 1989 Italo 12" by The Night- S- Press (although it could be the Thrashing Doves piano riff sampled or re- played I guess- either way, I see no reason to doubt Sean). 

Bocca Juniors were named after the Argentine football club, the home of Diego Maradona. In the summer of Italia 90, No Alla Violenza and World In Motion this was all quite right. The Raise video is a blast too, a sea of faces having fun and the famous 'Drop acid not bombs' graffiti- a proper time capsule. 

Across the various formats there were a number of different mixes of Raise. The Piano Hoe Down is a stripped back, largely instrumental version, the riff, bassline and those 1990s drums with extended piano vamping and background voices, very nicely stretched out for maximum dancefloor fun. 

There was a second 12" with some Tackhead remixes, Adrian Sherwood's outfit with Keith Leblanc, Skip McDonald and Doug Wimbish. The Dubhead remix pulls an extended version of Protege''s rap to the fore. There are two other mixes- the Heavenly Rap and the Philly House Skank- as well as another Tackhead one but I don't have any of those on the hard drive at the moment. These three should be more than enough to be going on with. 


Nina said...

Thrashing Doves was a massive tune played at the Shoom Club, Southwark Street. And of course there's Malcolm
'Raise' paid homage to some seriously unique and fun times, wherever the riff was rifled.

Swiss Adam said...

Thanks for pinpointing that sample Nina

Khayem said...

Great stuff, Adam. It'll come as no surprise that the Tackhead remix of this (& their own track Video Head) was an influence on my - intentionally misspelled - blog name...