So many memories tied up with this record. Certain clubs, a girlfriend, and the peak of my London boy-about-town life. Funky good times.
For a few years in the early 90s U2 forgot about being the saviours of rock and roll and remembered that they had once been a scrappy Post-Punk band. Trying to get that spirit back led them to make probably their best album in Achtung Baby and push their own envelope further with 12″ dance remixes of some of its singles.
These came out around the same time Primal Scream and Happy Mondays were mixing Rock with club beats so U2 were maybe bandwagon jumping a bit. The Perfecto mix of “Mysterious Ways” wouldn’t sound too out of place on Pills, Thrills, and Bellyaches which isn’t surprising as Mondays’ producer Paul Oakenfold was involved in it. The Solar Plexus mix is along the same lines but is even better I think — sounds like the drum roll from Steve Miller’s “Take The Money & Run” at the start of it.
Oakenfold also did the knob-twiddling honors on “Even Better Than The Real Thing” which is a more thorough deconstruction of the song, adding a big Rave beat and bringing the backing vocals forward into a euphoric wave-your-hands-in-the-air chorus. This version was a bigger hit in the UK than the original. The Sexy Dub mix is longer and more Rave-y and doesn’t feature Bono at all which may be a bonus for some people.
I know it’s the uncoolest thing in the world to say nice things about U2 these days, but I think they deserve some kudos for being more adventurous through this and the next couple of albums. Better than sticking their heads in the sand and just making another Joshua Tree which, being the biggest band in the world, they could easily have done and still made shed-loads of money.
Recorded from vinyl so forgive any imperfections.
Download: Mysterious Ways (Perfecto Mix) – U2 (mp3)
Download: Mysterious Ways (Solar Plexus Extended Club Mix) – U2 (mp3)
Download: Even Better Than The Real Thing (Perfecto Mix) – U2 (mp3)
Download: Even Better Than The Real Thing (Sexy Dub) – U2 (mp3)
Disco didn’t produce many great bands because that’s not what it was all about, but Chic must be one of the greatest in any genre — certainly one of the best rhythm sections ever — and they produced some marvelous records for other people too. Not that I give a shit about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but the fact that they’ve been nominated 10 times and failed to get in is a sad indictment of those rockist wankers.
Producer Arthur Baker made quite the splash in 1982. First he unleashed the revolutionary “Planet Rock” on the world and changed dance music forever — I still remember the first time I heard it — and had his first big popular hit with this classic cover of an Eddy Grant song which took over dance floors all over the land that year.
After that double whammy Baker became one of the hottest knob-twiddlers around, in demand as a remixer, and producing other megahits like Freeez’s “I.O.U”. Even those gloomy buggers New Order flew over to New York to touch the hem of his garment and work with him on “Confusion” — which, to be frank, was a bit of a let-down and nowhere near as good as this track.
I’ve always thought of this as a perfect 12″ single, even though it lasts an epic 9.5 minutes it never feels too long (unlike some extended mixes). In fact, I think I’d be happy if this went on forever.
Download: Walking On Sunshine (12″ mix) – Rockers Revenge (mp3)
The SOS Band were one of the acts (along with Alexander O’Neal) that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis honed their production chops on before hitting the really big time with Janet Jackson. This was their first hit and you can already hear that signature drum machine sound (a Roland TR-808) which pretty much defined 80s dance music.
An absolute classic record, and extra marks for the guy playing a Keytar. Don’t see enough of those these days.
Though this was a medium-sized hit in the UK in 1979 it became better known 10 years later when that great brass riff was sampled by S-Express which got to #1. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the original is the best.
I love how the guy is playing bongos for what is obviously a synth-drum sound.
This was the first House record to make the charts in the UK but little did I know when I bought the 12″ back in 1986 that it would turn out to be as influential and game-changing as ‘Anarchy In The UK’. I knew it was a bloody great record though, with a beat and a vocal that leapt out of the speakers at you.
This performance by Darryl Pandy on Top of The Pops must have helped it make a splash too.
I was doing a bit of crate-digging at home the other day and pulled out the 1985 compilation album Go Go Crankin’ which dates from that brief moment in the mid-80s when Go-Go music from Washington DC was the hottest thing around – at least on the London club scene and in trendy style magazines.
Go-Go was heavily percussive funk with an emphasis on extended live jams that had been a local scene in DC for years before it came to the attention of taste-makers and trendies on the other side of the pond. It was given a big push by Island Records, hyped by a big feature in The Face, and was very popular at London warehouse clubs like The Dirtbox where it shared turntable space with Rockabilly, Reggae, and Electro (clubs were a lot more eclectic in the days before House devoured the entire scene).
But despite the big push it never broke through to a mass audience the way Hip-Hop did, probably because Go-Go was more dependent on funky jams than snappy tunes — not surprisingly then that it’s high point in the UK was probably Trouble Funk’s famous gig at London’s Town & Country Club in 1986.
It’s brief moment in the English sun did bring us some great records though, of which Go Go Crankin’ was probably the most essential collection. I hadn’t played it in years and it’s still prime booty-shaking music.
Recorded from vinyl so forgive any sound imperfections.
Download: Let’s Get Small – Trouble Funk (mp3)
Download: Meet Me At The Go Go – Hot Cold Sweat (mp3)
Download: We Need Some Money – Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers (mp3)