Clubs closing is a natural part of the dance music ecosystem. The cold truth is the scene actually needs it; re-invention and freshness are two things that prevent stagnation, and sometimes some of the most special places in time are best preserved as a memory rather than afforded the chance to go bad. Although it is definitely rather nice when you do get the chance to properly say goodbye, as I did when Nation in Liverpool ended.
That said, it’s pretty shit when gentrification and the authorities end something before its time. I’d never been to Dalston disco Dance Tunnel, but I’d heard much about it and it’s just the latest in a spate of closing in the capital that have seen similair spots like Plastic People shut down. A fellow dance journalist Manu Ekanayake wrote a particularly prescient piece about the need for London to get a nightlife mayor, and sooner or later you’ve got to hope that the powers that be recognise the huge role clubs have in keeping people safe and developing our cultural values.
Classic boss Luke Solomon shared a mix he did at the venue back in January earlier this year, with one of the men behind it Dan Beaumont and bass and house siren Hannah Holland with a few simple words, eight of them simply stating “this one will be remembered as being important”. This is a man who knows a thing or two about clubs, and the trio’s four hour mix is a truly special ensemble of boot shaking house grooves.
Everyone has their first club they fall in love with. My first experience happened in with a hatrick of dalliances at lost Midlands club Mezzanine, and I even squeezed an appearance at Godskitchen which was an overall favourite during my two year love affair with trance and hard dance right at the start of my raving career. But no club gripped me quite like Cream did the first few times I spent there, as I arrived in Liverpool as a wide eyed teenager in Autumn 2000.
It was a weird time to be going to the club. Although those first few Saturdays spent in there in 2000 and early 2001 were mesmerising, the club’s music policy had moved away from the thunderous trance of recent times for a more progressive template, and it was starting to lose its lustre. I can remember working a shift with someone at my part time job who had poured scorn on me for going, saying “everyone in Liverpool got bored of necking tablets at Nation years ago” (newsflash, I don’t think people will ever get bored of necking anything in this city). But that first year of going it was still regularly packed, and fucking amazing week after week.
Cream’s drop off coincided with my own shifting musical tastes, and slowly the nights at Bugged Out! were more appealing. That said I was still proper shocked when it shut, this seemingly impregnable fortress of party time suddenly shutting despite me seeing a packed courtyard go nuts to a lengthy Mauro Picotto set only a few weeks before the announcement. the news was everywhere, across uni it was all a lot of people were talking about, either smirking indie wankers or die hard ravers. Little did they both know they’d be raving together within a year once the 2ManyDJs effect took a hold…
Saturday 17th October I got to relive that magic (read my Skiddle review of the Cream finale event), and it was literally amazing. The venue was the same sweaty, creaky and dark warehouse it always was, once again bossed by supreme sound, fantastic DJs and a superb crowd, albeit one that was well older than it was back in the day. Seb Fontaine stole the show for me, but listening to Paul Oakenfold crank out the classics was still utterly joyous, and the whole thing was pretty much perfect start to finish.
As sad as it made me, and even more so looking back these past few days, Saturday was a really special and lucky thing for everyone involved. My love affair with Cream was one of a few truly special life affirming moments in dance music, from the way electroclash tore the rulebook up a few years later to being part of a partying family around my own small clubnight a few years later. I’ve tasted Balearic heaven a few times and overseas raves too, but very few of these are things that can ever be repeated, particularly with enough of the people that made it special – my own personal friends form the Cream era were sadly not there at the weekend.
But so many people got the chance to relive an experience so special just one more time. They’ve got another bite of the cherry on Boxing Day as well. Just like clubs like Cream don’t come along that often in our lifetime, neither too do these gilt edged gifts. Everyone grows up and moves on but these fleeting opportunities need to be grasped; I’m just glad I got the chance again.
I don’t get to write many album reviews on release date over at Skiddle but with this pretty much being the epitome of what our classic readership are into I couldn’t really not. Hit the quote to read more, and failing that watch them below live from Creamfields this year.
The above is a quick snippet of an EP released on Unclear Records on the 22nd October as a tribute to Klang nightclub, a Tuscan rave spot that purports to have a bit of a history during the five years it was open from 2008-13. The tracks are all form people who’ve played their before, with Baby Ford offering a breathy sparse groove in ‘Satellite Stroll (Edge Of The Night Mix)’ and a typically mechanical clunker from Roman Flugel called ‘Candy Crack’.
For me though the jack on Okain’s ‘Living proof’ is absolute gold, gorgeous swinging house around the 120bpm mark with classic claps and percussion, and then some beautifully chimy stabs and even a little bit of sax. Proper taps aff tackle for Croatia and beefa, and the kind of record that you hear mid afternoon in Panoramabar on a Sunday. Boss, in other words.
Dave Seaman and Steve Parry are launching a brand new record label entitled Selador, with music forthcoming from Samu.l, Shall Ocin and Bushwacka!’s new alias Just Be, among others. Promising upfront house and techno across the spectrum, the debut release from Samu.l is a dreamy slice of deep house goodness complete with recognisable sample, which shows a very modern and dynamic twist for the music you might usually expect from Parry and Seaman.
What’s really exciting though is the way they are funding the first compilation release; via Kickstarter. The above video explains how to get involved, but essentially you put in for a project with differing levels of involvement. The more you pledge, the more you get out, but if they don;t secure the moolah needed the project never gets off the ground, so you only get charged if it goes ahead. Although this has been pursed in other angles of the music business, this is the first time it’s been put to the test in dance music.
With mix compilations not only under threat from piracy but the abyss of internet available DJ mixes clouding the market, it’s a measure which could change the make-up of the way this concept develops, or even add longevity to a market that is no doubt struggling in recent years. Head here for details on how to pledge.
Circus recordings continues a fine run of form with a bamboozler from Bambook and Netzell, Cari Golden delivering a great spoken word vocal. The clubnight has a couple of crackers lined up for Easter Weekend as well, Good Friday at Egg London and then the Camp & Furnace up here in Liverpool for Easter Sunday.
And this recent set from Yousef at Circus is something of an instant classic.
This weekend is a big bad dollop of 1997 for me. Tomorrow, 16 years ago to the very day, one of the greatest of all time was gunned down, and in Manchester I am off to see easily the best hip-hop album released that year performed live in it’s entirety, Camp Lo’s ‘Uptown Saturday Night’. And seeing as 1997 was the first full calender year where I was in love with the music from start to finish this week’s instalment of Five for the Funk simply had to celebrate the year.
Turns out thought that 1997, when peering beyond the sepia tinted memories, was a weak one for hip-hop and probably the worst in the decade. Even though I was enthralled by the genre at the time the lack of being on the money (I was 15 and living in a RAF base in the Midlands) meant it was mainly old albums (Doggystyle, All Eyez on Me, 36 Chambers) that I liked (Camp Lo aside), and a confirmation of a look at this list shows rappers were more about sales, quantity and that horrible beast in hip-hop; the double album.
That said there was still some decent music this year, and none of those pesky double albums were classics in my eyes but they did throw together some great tunes. Here’s five of the best hip-hop videos and tracks from 1997…
They didn’t quite nail it with ‘Wu Tang Forever‘, but you genuinely do have to admire the Wu for their balls. I can remember the hype on UK and European MTV for this album and in turn this single, which still wasn’t that in tuned to hip-hop compared to the way it was with rock, and to announce the return of the whole clan with a lead single that was straight up lyrical wordplay at six minutes long was insane. The closest thing it had to a chorus was ODB screaming out that ‘Wu Tang was here for ever mutherfuckers’, and this was the record they were taking over the world with at the very inception of the shiny suit era in hip-hop. I mean come on! Stateside it sold over 600k in the first week and smashed it to the top of the charts. Killer figures from the killer bees, and that opening verse from Insepktah Deck.
‘Triumph’ was just that, the Wu knocking the shit out of the rest of the world. One of ten or twelve very good records on the album, although it might not be as dynamic as the likes of ‘Da Mystery of Chessboxin’, it was still a relentless slab of stark hip-hop. And nothing on TV looked so gully at the time. A grimy as fuck two finger salute at the staunch sound of selling out.
Biggie knew he was the epitome of the best of both worlds. The ugly as fuck fat boy who was so silky smooth he made women forget his appearance as their panties fell to the floor. The rapper that could make an album that featured a rags to riches radio joint side by side with tributes to stick-up kids and paranoia soaked suicide notes. And an absolute club and radio banger that had some of the tightest flows ever on it. It shone of the real Biggie, braggadocio to the hilt but gloriously self aware.
A genuinely brilliant record, and although technically a 1996 joint an anthem both sides of the Atlantic throughout 1997. And every year since.
Boot Camp Clik ‘Headz R Ready’
Wu weren’t the only hoodies and timbs NYC hip-hop crew bringing that rugged and raw vibe in 1997, so too were Boot Camp Clik. The collective consisted of Black Moon’s Buckshot, Smif N Wessun, Originoo Gunn Clappaz and Louieville Sluggah, and this was a tight record that featured a lovely nineties era drenched video. If you were one of those teenagers, like me, who lived for that one or two hours a week in 97 when Yo MTV Raps rounded up the best videos of the time, this was more often than not what would greet you.
Tha Alkaholiks ‘Hip-Hop Drunkies’
The West coast was flatter than usual between 1996 and 1999, but in the midst of it all was an underground antidote to the chronic flavoured riddims of the G-funk sound. And one of the better crews repping it were tha Liks. Their 1997 album ‘Likwidation’ is an underrated beast, straight up beats and rhymes tomfoolery from J-Ro, E-Swift and Tash, and this video sums up their vibe brilliantly.
An inspired pairing of their alcohol focused swagger with hip-hop’s fav substance abuser ODB, it flips a sample of Marley Marl’s piano riff off ‘The Symphony‘ to create a posse cut for boozers. Like the video for ‘Triumph’ ODB’s role is played by an actor, laying the groundwork for his troubled years ahead. He rips it up on here though, particularly with the “no disrespect to any architect who tries to perfect, oh what the heck” lyric, riffing brilliantly on the production of the song and his own role in hip-hop with a flurry of densely packed inner rhymes. An absolute genius.
To say I’m a fan of Camp Lo’s ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ album is an understatement. Released in 1997, it’s one of those rare records that I loved just as much when I was a teenager as I do now, an absolute joy from start to finish. Everything about it is perfect, from the ridiculousness of De La’s Trugoy guesting with clown central lyrics about eating his honeycomb cereal with his big spoon on’ B Side to Hollywood’, the mesmerising slang on the ode to parlaying ‘Sparkle’ or the get rich soon heist classic ‘Luchini’ (see below). Even the artwork was amazing, aping brilliantly Marvin Gaye’s classic ‘I want you’.
So when Liverpool’s hip-hop mainstay Paddy of No Fakin‘ took a rare moment outside of ripping me for my lack of hip-hop involvement to let me know that Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede were playing live in Manchester, I was pretty happy. When I did some more research and uncovered the fact it was one of those play the whole album in full gigs, dedicated to ‘Uptown Saturday Night’, the excitement reached untold levels. Props to More Bounce for picking an absolute stone cold classic to ring in their first birthday celebrations, and better yet for doffing their caps further on the hip-hop tip by putting it on on March 9th, the date of course when Biggie Smalls was shot.
This couldn’t get any more in the throes of 1997 if it tried, and what with that being the year where Hip-hop fully gripped me in a full never ending clinch, I’ll be definitely in attendance at the show. There will be bubbly flowing through me for sure. Hype!
The internet is weird. Proper, proper weird. But every now and again something happens that is such a whirlwind of oddity it goes beyond even the usual realms of skewered sanity. This story is just one of those examples. Genuinely, click on this link. It’s amazing.
What started as a bit of a pisstake comment from Irish electronica fiend Space Dimension Controller has since spiralled into epic proportions, resulting in the Russian obsession with a very bad example of taxidermy, and a weekend of electronic goodness first in Carlisle and then in London, the latter boasting Pete Gooding as well. Those who have been following the story, myself included, have been mesmerised by the sheer lunacy that keeps happening from it. It’s a relentless example of why the world wide weirdness is the best thing about the 21st Century. I’m sadly unable to see the Fox off at either show this weekend, but if you are there or thereabouts do it.