Join 3,417 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A brief musical history of Garage
October 27, 2009 10:06 PM   Subscribe

In the waning days of the Disco era, Larry Levan crafted a new style of dance music, which, like House music in Chicago, came to be named after the nightclub where it was most played, the Paradise Garage. Garage music may have started with disco, but over the decades, it's evolved in some surprising ways:

The first Garage records were mostly extended remixes of disco records:

Roberta Flack - Loving You Is Such An Easy Thing To Do
MFSB -
Love Is The Message
Lolleata Halloway - Love Sensation

Eventually Larry's taste for deep, soulful tracks inspired local music producers to make tracks just for Paradise Garage and the classic Garage sound was born:

Wish - Nice and Soft
Mahogany - Ride On the Rhythm

Over time, the sound got picked by Club Zanzibar in New Jersey where it picked up influences from the new House music coming out of the Warehouse in Chicago and by the early 90s had evolved into the sound that also became known as Deep House:

Underground Solution - Luv Dancin
Odyssey - Feel My Love
Butch Quick - Higher

Garage continued to develop and crossed over into the UK, where it began being played at raves in the UK and then back in the US, where the influence of ecstasy caused the DJs to begin pitching the records up and looking for slightly harder and "druggy" records and speed Garage was born:

Todd Edwards - Push The Love
Sneaker Pimps - Spin Spin Sugar (Armand Van Helden Mix)
Industry Standard - So More (I refuse)

The speed of the records continued to increase until they went over 135bpm, where something like a phase shift happened -- the 4 to the floor beat became too hard to dance to at that speed, so they started dropping every other beat and in the late 90s(after picking up some R&B and Drum & Bass influences) 2-Step Garage was born:

DJ Zinc - 138 Trek
Artful Dodger - Rewind
MJ Cole - Sincere
Azzido de Bass - Dooms Night (Stanton Warriors remix)
Dreem Teem - Buddy X 99

2-step garage had massive mainstream success in the early 2000s, but after a backlash it went back underground where a new sound started percolating in London's urban clubs. The sounds got darker, more bass-heavy, dirtier. 2-Step started crossing over with London's hip-hop sub-genre - grime. And finally, some producers decided to drop 2-step's 140 BPM tempo down by half to 70bpm so it would mix with hip-hop, and Dubstep was born:

La Roux - In for the Kill (Skream Remix)
Plastic Man - White Gloves
Rusko - Cockney Thug
TC - Where's My Money (Caspa Remix)
Mala - Alicia

That's a hell of a long way from the Paradise Garage.

(apologies in advance if I got some of the details wrong -- this was never really my scene, so I'm not an expert)
posted by empath (62 comments total) 93 users marked this as a favorite

 
(doh, i botched the link for love is the message-- oh well you can google for it :) )
posted by empath at 10:09 PM on October 27, 2009


I have no idea if you got the details right, but the links are great.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:09 PM on October 27, 2009


also, i said 'was born' about 80 times -- it's hard to catch stuff like that when you're editing in a little text window...
posted by empath at 10:11 PM on October 27, 2009


I was lost, then spin, spin sugar brought me back for the kill. thanks!
posted by dual_action at 10:19 PM on October 27, 2009


Following these scenes with one eye for 15 years, this is what the evolution looked like. Great post.
posted by krilli at 10:21 PM on October 27, 2009


Bonus Essential Mixes:

Speed Garage from Dreem Teem.

2 Step Garage from MJ Cole.

Dubstep from Rusko.
posted by empath at 10:22 PM on October 27, 2009


First the electro post and now this! Who's going to be the one that covers Drums and Bass?
posted by hellojed at 10:31 PM on October 27, 2009


Neat path you've traced, empath! It was fun to connect the dots.

...though I'm more of a New-New England Hardstyle Ambient fan...
posted by not_on_display at 10:31 PM on October 27, 2009


Yo empath, I'm really happy to have this Garage post and I'ma let you finish, but Loose Joints had one of the best Larry Levan mixes of all time.

(This is a fantastic post and you are fantastic for making it. I'm going to go dance now.)
posted by mintcake! at 10:33 PM on October 27, 2009


Empath I heart you.

This thread rules pretty hard.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:35 PM on October 27, 2009


Also plz do a dubstep one now.

K thx
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:36 PM on October 27, 2009


awesome links, thank you empath
posted by seawallrunner at 10:38 PM on October 27, 2009


I thought they took all the Geocities pages down.

(Great post BTW)
posted by sien at 10:39 PM on October 27, 2009


Not to sound like a curmudgeon but I wish Dubstep would implement more aspects of Dub/Reggae and less of the industrial/DnB that Rusko and Caspa are so fond of.

As an aside here's a mix I made featuring a number of dubstep tracks I like "mashed-up" with some hip-hop tracks that I like.
posted by cloeburner at 10:43 PM on October 27, 2009


Ahem
posted by cloeburner at 10:44 PM on October 27, 2009


Excellent post empath, many thanks for putting this together!
posted by carter at 10:44 PM on October 27, 2009


Great post empath.
posted by cloeburner at 10:48 PM on October 27, 2009


Loved this post. Another figure towards the dubstep end of the musical galaxy is Burial, who made a lot of best-of lists a couple years back. There are those who'd argue it's not true dubstep, and you'll find that fight as interesting as you find microgenre fights in general.
posted by el_lupino at 10:48 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flagged for a good post, and thorough.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:57 PM on October 27, 2009


Really great post, empath. Thanks.
posted by heyho at 10:57 PM on October 27, 2009


I don't know garage all that well (have one memory of trying to fall asleep on a London flat's floor while it played in the background!) but dubstep is great, especially when enjoyed on acid, after being ejected from a party for using the host's clothesline as a slingshot for martini glasses, and while pulling up on a family camping as the car empties and everyone within piles out to throw half-full beer cans at each other. At least, in my experience.

btw, absolutely excellent post. I've seen a few timeline style posts before for jazz and blues but this is hands down the best when it comes to electronic styles.
posted by mannequito at 11:02 PM on October 27, 2009


oh and Caspa's TC remix makes excellent use of a sample from Casper (the character) in Larry Clark's Kids, if anyone is interested.
posted by mannequito at 11:04 PM on October 27, 2009


Also plz do a dubstep one now.

This post was kinda was my backwards way of posting 'Hai guys, let's talk about dubstep'.

I used to hate it, but I really, really like it now. ESPECIALLY the weird industrial, hard, edgy sound. It's bizarre to me that it somehow evolved from 2-step, because when i first heard it, it sounded like it was coming from another planet.
posted by empath at 11:29 PM on October 27, 2009


Garage always makes me think of that loose joints remix. It's a classic, but it's the strangest mix- bass too low, vocals too loud and dry, meandering keyboards and barely audible guitar. Maybe that's what keeps it fresh. It doesn't have any of the mixing tricks that would date it.
posted by bhnyc at 12:25 AM on October 28, 2009


Shit, now I'm going to have to put on a stripey shirt and do an acid house post.

Good job!
posted by loquacious at 1:21 AM on October 28, 2009


Tim Curry!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:45 AM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't let a garage conversation go by without my favorite garage remix of all time.

Now then ... dubstep? It don't sound like garage.
posted by False Jesii Inc. at 1:54 AM on October 28, 2009


Nice post. I love all these histories.

2-step garage had massive mainstream success in the early 2000s, but after a backlash it went back underground where a new sound started percolating in London's urban clubs. The sounds got darker, more bass-heavy, dirtier. 2-Step started crossing over with London's hip-hop sub-genre - grime. And finally, some producers

I would say that this is slightly wrong...I'm not an expert but there was a 'breakbeat garage' sound that crossed over with 'breaks' music. This seemed to go on for ages and got realy tired. Then eventually 'grime' came out of that..kids making more raw beats. Don't think it was a 'hip hop subgenre at least at first...although influenced by the US gang culture the main style of mc'ing evolved from the UK mc'ing that happened at jungle then garage raves. Now seems like they all want to sound like commercial hip hop/crunk or whatever so understand the association.

Not criticising just trying to fill in part of the family tree. I find it fascinating how these sounds evolve from different 'genetic material'
posted by Not Supplied at 2:06 AM on October 28, 2009


Dug up a breakbeat garage mix. Sounds as bad as I remember it :)
posted by Not Supplied at 2:11 AM on October 28, 2009


Although a major music geek I am sorely deficient when it comes to knowledge of electronic music, so I missed about 99% of the history laid out above. But then last year I heard Burial. It was amazing.

Thanks empath.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:38 AM on October 28, 2009


Another nice music post. Never can have too many!

I always mentally associate UK (2step) garage with rave and hardcore (and later d'n'b) more than with US garage, since I see somewhat different influences early on in the UK electronic music (UK always loved breakbeats) than the type of disco and r&b that was influencing US producers.

Anyways, props to Larry, he had a ton of edits/mixes that I love. Lately been digging his mix of Grace Jones' Pull Up To The Bumper.
posted by p3t3 at 3:04 AM on October 28, 2009


excellent post!
posted by monkeyJuice at 3:32 AM on October 28, 2009


Well, I know what I'll be listening to all today. Awesome post empath.
posted by Hutch at 4:54 AM on October 28, 2009


This post made me very aware of my lawn.
posted by fleacircus at 4:58 AM on October 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think Levan's experimentation with reggae and left-field (Eddy Grant, Arthur Russell, Ian Dury, ESG, Liquid Liquid, etc.) was definitely key, since most gay clubs were probably still playing disco records around that time. (The Garage opened in 1976.) Labels like Prelude, West End, and Streetwise came to be very important as well.

I've come to see what Frankie Knuckles was doing in Chicago as sort of a Garage outpost. For those interested, I started my own research about the Chicago scene.
posted by hyperizer at 5:31 AM on October 28, 2009


This post is fucking epic.
posted by chunking express at 6:24 AM on October 28, 2009


I always liked this Speed Garage remix of Back to Life by Ragga's Revenge.
posted by chunking express at 6:29 AM on October 28, 2009


The level of detail that the electronic music archaeologists put into these historical reviews always reminds me of Ishkur's Guide. So, I guess if you want one person's notion of where Garage fits into the whole pantheon of electronic music geekery, there you go.

Complete with *whooshes*
posted by clvrmnky at 6:38 AM on October 28, 2009


Excellent post, and as an addition in case anyone hasn't seen it (and I'm pretty sure I got this from an FPP many years ago), here's the best guide to electronic music ever.

Complete with examples on every single style possible it's really well researched, though I'm sure someone will find something they're missing.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:47 AM on October 28, 2009


Not criticising just trying to fill in part of the family tree.

The problem with trying to make a relatively linear chart of musical progression is that there are so many influences that merge in and can play a subtle or significant role, especially if you try to fit everything into neat genre categories.

Throwing in my faves:
Theo Parrish - Violet Green - deep house of a later generation, from an album originally released in 2000, I prefer Serengeti Echoes for it's slow building beauty
Tori Amos - Professional Widow (Arman van Helden's Star Trunk Funk Remix) - key speed garage track, if I recall correctly
La Roux - In For The Kill (Foamo's Remix of Skream's Remix) - my favorite dupstep (type) remix of this track

WARNING: Ishkur's Guide is partially tongue-in-cheek, partially dead wrong (but some is spot on). Mind you, tracing musical progression is not an easy task, but that is not a pinnacle of truth based on facts. He is improving it, but I'd suggest you cross-check anything before you use that site as a reference. Wikipedia has a short page on the guide, noting that the guide was originally put together in 2 weeks back in 2000, and that the descriptions are "highly editorial." In looking for critiques of the site, I came across this post from 2003 that credits the link came "via MeFi."

And I'd lay claim to Drum'n'Bass for a Friday post, but I might be getting ahead of myself
posted by filthy light thief at 6:57 AM on October 28, 2009


Awesome post!! So many memories...any of you Toronto kids remember 23 hop?

Oh, and this is the best Whitney ever sounded.
posted by Go Banana at 7:07 AM on October 28, 2009


I whole heartedly agree w/ your viewpoint, but this ain't your typical garage joint.
posted by broken wheelchair at 7:26 AM on October 28, 2009


Bringing it back to Larry Levan, it doesn't get much more epic than Inner Life and Jocelyn Brown, Ain't No Mountain High Enough.
posted by euphorb at 8:16 AM on October 28, 2009


any of you Toronto kids remember 23 hop?

I'm not a Toronto kid, but 23 Hop looked like a "proto-rave" location, complete with really basic fliers.

My only "rave" experience was at a community center, though the directions came by way of a mysterious phone number that a friend of mine found. Before we knew where it was, it seemed so daring. When we got there, it was pretty hard to miss.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:51 AM on October 28, 2009


Great post, but I think it's a little wide of the mark to suggest that dubstep is the key ancestor of (UK) garage. I know it originates with grime producers, but personally I reckon it's more of crossover genre, taking in dub, garage and drum'n'bass (amongst others) to create something new. I think the essence to garage has always essentially been soul style (and these days R'n'B style) vocals, something which dubstep lacks on the whole.

On the other hand, post-2step developments that are more consistent with the stylistic features of UK garage (e.g. large basslines, 135bpm-ish, snappy off-beat snare, R'n'B style vocals) would be:

Bassline house, e.g.
Scott Garcia & MC Neat - Bassline
T2 - Heartbroken
Dexplicit - Karma

and UK funky (also confusing known as funky house, which is a whole other genre) with loads of examples here.
posted by iivix at 10:55 AM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


And although bassline is pretty one dimensional as it goes, UK funky is actually rather awesome, blending soca elements and a jazzy touch with the traditional UK garage sound to create something new.
posted by iivix at 10:59 AM on October 28, 2009


It's not very funky though, despite the name.
posted by iivix at 11:00 AM on October 28, 2009


Great post, but I think it's a little wide of the mark to suggest that dubstep is the key ancestor of (UK) garage.

Well, a lot of dubstep (but not all) has straight 2-step percussion in it, and a lot of dubstep producers were formerly 2-step producers, but the American dubstep scene is almost entirely divorced from the 2-step scene.
posted by empath at 11:12 AM on October 28, 2009


I was lost, then spin, spin sugar brought me back for the kill. thanks!

Ayup.

Amazing as usual, empath. Want to do one on trance next? ;)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:12 AM on October 28, 2009


i did a trance fpp before, but it wasn't really about the history of trance, it was just links to a bunch of random trance songs. Though i actually have been researching it a bit recently. It's really amazing how LITTLE there is written about it, when it's arguably one of the most popular music genres (world wide) of the past 20 years.

You can find people endlessly over-intellectualizing about D&B and 2-step -- even trash genres like Baltimore club, but it's rare that you see anyone writing in depth about trance.

I mean, I think a song this good is worth talking about -- how it works, what it means, how that sound developed, but as far as I can tell nobody has ever done it.
posted by empath at 11:25 AM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool. Lots of ace YT links here. And on the evolution of the genre(s) when we get to the point of talking about post D&B-era British stuff – it's really worth reading the updated/revised version of Simon Reynolds' Energy Flash for how all that stuff evolved. Someone mentioned upthread about the rave/hardcore origins of grime and dubstep MCs, and I think that's about right; originally they were less related to hip hop, and were much more akin to how the MC functioned in reggae and late 80s/early 90s rave – i.e. the MC as interaction point between the music and the crowd, rather than the MC as a focal point of action in and of him (or her) self.

Oh, and I've linked to it before, but any discussion of garage's evolution needs to give up proper respect for Walter Gibbons, the unsung hero of disco/garage/house.
posted by Len at 12:14 PM on October 28, 2009


Great post, empath.

I didn't realize that the UK garage stuff (2-step, especially) was related to Larry Levan. I love Levan; I can leave 2-step.
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on October 28, 2009


Well, distantly related. That's where the name came from, ultimately. If you take it step by step, you can see how it evolved. But once any music hits the rave scene, it starts becoming 'rave music'

Dubstep is getting played at raves now, and changing fairly radically as a result.
posted by empath at 12:19 PM on October 28, 2009


Amazing as usual, empath. Want to do one on trance next? ;)

YOU GO TO HELL!!!

;)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:07 PM on October 28, 2009


Well, empath, do you like Black Sun Empire? I'm telling you, eventually we're going to end up at a party together and bore the crap out of everyone talking about music.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:23 PM on October 28, 2009


I mean, I think a song this good is worth talking about -- how it works, what it means, how that sound developed, but as far as I can tell nobody has ever done it.

Agreed, and it's a bit strange there's been so little analysis of the genre.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:37 PM on October 28, 2009


Well, empath, do you like Black Sun Empire

I do like them, but D&B is the one EDM genre that has never really done it for me, though I actually like liquid D&B.

If I were going to do a history of D&B post, it would have High Contrast and John B and no one else.
posted by empath at 5:52 PM on October 28, 2009


empath, would love a deep house FPP from you sometime in the future...
posted by gen at 11:52 PM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was really great to follow the progression and evolution of this music over the years. This was a fantastic post, thank you!
posted by bouchacha at 8:12 AM on October 30, 2009


I just figured out what i'll do next: Ghetto/Booty music -- Ghetto Tech, Miami Bass, Bmore Club, Kuduro, Baile Funk, etc..
posted by empath at 8:48 AM on October 30, 2009


That would be fucking cool esp. Kuduro
posted by Not Supplied at 1:07 PM on October 30, 2009


Empath, I'd pay to see what DNB made it through your filters over the years. I think the "harder, darker, faster" contingent hijacked the genre around 2001 or so, making it into something of the new hair metal. The problem was that intelligent, funky, jazzy, soulful, downtempo, and every adjective not "hard", "dark", and "fast" seemed to get left by the wayside.

(I'm ignoring Aphrodite, as he essentially had one bassline, again and again and again.)

AK1200's the Secret Art of Science comes to mind, as does High Contrast's debut Essential Mix. John B, as you pointed out, owns this game.
posted by talldean at 12:06 PM on October 31, 2009


« Older Lucian Freud Interview (YouTubes): 1; 2; 3; 4; 5...  |  Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, N... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments