Monday, June 27, 2022


For Jim Irvin's You're Not On The List podcast - which I did back in March with David Stubbs as co-guest - there was a 'warm-up' / fact-finding questionnaire that Jim asked us to fill in: 

Most recent album you’ve got excited about.

Really excited would be Dry Cleaning, New Long Leg.  

More recent than that and more moderately excited, the Burial Anti-Dawn is-it-an-album-or-EP.

 Record that significantly shifted your musical taste.

There have been so many, often in rapid succession, or clustered in the same sort of youthful period. 

At the start, Ian Dury's New Boots and Panties! was an initiation moment in lots of directions (punk, funk, lyrics-as-poetry). 

But some major later openings-up of whole new areas would be the first two Pebbles compilations (Sixties garage punk) King Tubby’s Special (for dub and roots reggae) and Joey Beltram “Energy Flash” (for techno and rave).

Blind spot. Artist, classic album or album from an otherwise trustworthy source that you just don’t get. 

I once made a whole list of these kind of artists for a planned blogpost called ‘see it don’t feel it’. My mind is blank though apart from too obvious things like Eric Clapton or too minor (The Adverts, The Germs, The Dream Syndicate).  

In terms of an album by a great and beloved artist that never clicked with me, it would be the White Album. Also Music from Big Pink.

Record or artist you used to dislike but now enjoy. OR Record you love that took a long time to understand.

Sublime  - I’m not sure I disliked so much as preemptively  dismissed the idea that white reggae from SoCal could have anything going for it. But tunes like “What I Got” and “Doin’ Time” sound just right on the radio driving around LA and Brad Nowell  was a really great singer.

If you had to live with only one album, which would you choose and why?

Maybe Miles Davis In A Silent Way, just because it’s both stimulating and soothing -  and it seems inexhaustible.


What’s “obviously” the greatest record ever made?

In rock terms, the first side of Fun House

Outside that it gets too complicated, it’s like different contests at the Olympics -  the aims, the mode of achieving them, etc – are too divergent. You’d have to narrow it down.

Friday, June 10, 2022

RIP Julee Cruise


Because I was spending a lot of time in New York in 1990, I ended up interviewing the delightful Julee Cruise twice for Melody Maker - possibly three times actually.  Certainly wrote three pieces on her within a single year. (And that wasn't all of Melody Maker's Julee coverage either - very very keen we all were on her debut Floating Into the Night!). The first and most in depth of the pieces is below. 

A few years later, we saw Julee perform at a PS122 benefit in the East Village, a motley line up of artistes (Annie Sprinkle was one of them) raising money for the theatre space. Julee did a kind of noir performance art lip-synch to "Up In Flames", the eeriest of the tunes on her second album The Voice of Love, and my favorite.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Sorted - DB and Dara bring the old skool vibe back (2002)


Village Voice, 2002

by Simon Reynolds

In the UK, rave nostalgia is old enough to warrant nostalgic pangs itself. For years now there’ve been acid-house flashbacks, Back To ’92 hardcore nights, and recently even Back to ’97 (speed garage’s annus mirabilis) parties. Hosted by original junglist DB and drum’n’bass selecta Dara, Sorted was Manhattan’s first proper dose of old skool rave retro. At this dummy edition of what’s intended as a regular monthly, an astonishingly fervent crowd (many doubtless veterans of DB’s pioneering NYC rave party NASA) packed out Bar 13, lured by the slogan "come feel that vibe again".

"That vibe" being the starry-eyed and virginal euphoria of a culture at its glorious dawn, an eon before its degeneration into the numbingly professionalized leisure industry of today. 1988-92, the period from which DB & Dara cherrypicked their relentless onslaught of classics, is rave’s "Sixties". 1992-97 would be its "Seventies" (fragmentation, darkness, aesthetic bloating versus strategies of renewal-through-reduction) while ’97-to-02 is clearly the Eighties (irony, self-reflexiveness, revivals galore). As with the original 1960s, during rave's youth it seemed like the well of killer tunes would never dry, like the culture would just keep on hurtling forwards forever.

"Music From London, Manchester, and Chicago" was the promised menu, but the last two got pretty short shrift. (If you crave that baggy beat, better hope the Madchester-retro party Hacienda, recently deactivated, finds a new home). London’s breakbeat house and jungalistic hardcore ruled the night. Rave’s own internal logic of intensification seemed to pull the deejays towards 91/92 and keep them there, at that explosive brink where hip hop met Italo-house met techno met Jamaica in the supercollider of mass MDMA madness. "E’s Not Required This Time" winked the flyer, but it was true: this music triggers the serotonin gush all by itself . Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you have memories of all-night frenz-E burned into your nervous system, like this crowd evidently did.

Recollected in tranquility, two patterns emerged. One was the absolute centrality, in this supposedly future-fixated music, of a 19th Century instrument, the piano. Tonight we heard track after track based on the plangent elation of major-key piano vamps. From Manix’s "Feel Real Good" to Awesome 3’s "Don’t Go", we were blessed by a cornucopia of keyboard riffs poised between sublimely simple and ridiculously inane. 

The other thing that stood out was a melancholy sense of 1991-92 as a lost/last moment before the rave diaspora; before the tempos and intentions of the nascent subgenres (jungle, trance, gabba, purist techno, etc) fatally diverged. Back then, a single set could comfortably comprehend Felix’s gay nu-NRG thump, SL2’s hyper-skank, the sneaky slink of Jaydee’s "Plastic Dreams", Human Resource’s infernal blare, the serene bliss-waves of Jam & Spoon’s "Stella", Eon’s proto-darkcore, and more. DB and Dara took us back to a time when the center still held. They’d have to be crazy if they don’t make Sorted a regular thing, and you’d have to be crazy to miss the next one.