Hey Ho! Let's Go! Geronimo!
July 3, 2015 4:24 AM   Subscribe

The Acid House trend/moral panic of the late 1980s saw house and techno go mainstream, and in the early 1990s, what was now known as 'dance music' was a regular fixture in the UK Top 40. And a trend for songs which sampled video games cartoons, and even government films teaching kids about safety. The Musician's Union ruled that all samples needed to be sung when performed on TV, which led to some interesting TV performances. posted by mippy (35 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's a great urban legend that when the actual creators of a rave track didn't want to appear on TOTP they just a couple of chancers out of the pub to jump around behind some keyboards.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:38 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Charlie Says
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:33 AM on July 3, 2015


Okay, holy smokes, I was completely unaware that not only was there a dance version of the Tetris theme, it was also popular enough to appear on Top of the Pops.

Oh my God, this is beautiful.
posted by Katemonkey at 6:28 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


*Digs out white gloves and glow-sticks*

I'm sure all these tracks sounded much better back in the day, or maybe it was the chemical enhancement that helped...
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 6:55 AM on July 3, 2015


Your name's not down, you're not coming in Pretty sure there was no rapping in the original
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:06 AM on July 3, 2015


I am so mad that it is lights out quiet time in my house and I can't find my head phones. Back in 12. Great post.
posted by arha at 7:07 AM on July 3, 2015


That slight detour in 2Unlimited's Get Ready For This made me wonder what would be an NHL97/Tetris mashup.
Also, worth pointing out one of the local actor-turned DJs has made Tetris his signature set bit.

The many limitations on TOTP regarding live/pre-recorded instruments, plus the changing dynamic from either traditional drum/guitar/bass or singer/orchestra to "a guy and a bunch of samplers" made things very, very curious, particularly for those willing to play the game.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:13 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]




Altern8 - Activ8

The singer's in the comments with her amazing story
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:31 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ha, I was watching an Altern8 performance a few months back - being seven at the time, I remembered what they looked like but not what they sounded like - and noticed the little pots of Vick's decorating the set. For the uninitiated,Vick's is a decongestant applied to the chest and nose when you have a cold, but a lot of ravers used it to heighten the effects of ecstacy.

Not quite as good as when The Shamen said that Ebeneezer Goode was 'about a man named Ebeneezer, Eezer for short, and he was a nice man', but close.
posted by mippy at 8:06 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was sure there was a Sonic one - there was a Hamster Dance song that made the top ten, though about five years too late for the toytown techno fad - but I can't find it anywhere.
posted by mippy at 8:08 AM on July 3, 2015


That documentary was worthwhile; thanks.

I got into rave a few years later, and on the other side of the pond (the east coast of the US). Even at the time, and with limited information about the UK scene, it was clear the two countries did rave very differently. The stuff I've learned since then (from articles and documentaries like these) has only cemented that.

In the UK, rave was intertwined with pop music and showmanship in a way that it never was in the US. To see rave-oriented artists on Top of the Pops, or flashy stage shows at parties—totally unimaginable in the US. That kind of thing was antithetical to the spirit of the US scene—which certainly embraced spectacle, but largely positioned DJs and even (to some extent) live performers as semi-anonymous entities. Their music was crucial to the party, but they were not. We preferred our artists to be mute silhouettes twisting knobs amidst a tangle of cables and smoke and machinery.

To prance about in a spotlight onstage, or put your face on the cover of a record, was seen as crass and outmoded. (Rabbit in the Moon was the gimmicky exception that proved the rule.) We poked fun at people who went to musical events to stare en masse in the same direction at costumed performers on a dais. There was certainly a cult of DJ worship—it's not like US kids were immune to that impulse—but the relationship between artist and audience was definitely different than it was in rock and pop music.

You can also see this difference in the UK scene's connection with rock music (via Manchester), which was a foreign idea in the US. We traced our lineage back to electro, hip-hop, industrial, Kraftwerk, disco. Rock was (fairly or not) seen as "other".

(This is, obviously, all just my own experience. The US scene was big and diverse, and I only experienced a small slice of it. But I think this is generally true.)

I'm not hating on the UK scene—I just find the difference fascinating. As with rock music, the rave scene has always been characterized by a robust dialogue between the US and the UK. Rave is often told as a story that began in the UK—which is true in many ways—but the culture really evolved in parallel on both sides of the Atlantic, with some ideas catching on earlier (or more fully) on one side than the other. The US invented techno and house music; the UK invented warehouses full of sweaty people on Ecstasy. And we've been trading innovations ever since.

And, because this thread wouldn't be complete without them, here are Human Resource's "Dominator" and Humanoid's "Stakker Humanoid".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:12 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


To prance about in a spotlight onstage, or put your face on the cover of a record, was seen as crass and outmoded.

That was the case for some parts of the scene, but there were always people who prefer the prancing around in a spotlight side of things. There were people who were underground and liked it, and others who were underground and wanted to be mainstream. There were also the mainstream record labels desperate to make some money on all the underground record sales. Having a marketable avatar helps with that.
posted by asok at 8:41 AM on July 3, 2015


Altern8 - Activ8

Ta so much for reminding me of that. Another victim of the bastard joyrider who burned my whole tape collection.
posted by pompomtom at 8:42 AM on July 3, 2015


HITMAN AND HER - Humanoid Stakker Humanoid *monocle pops out* They would never allow that on the BBC!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:53 AM on July 3, 2015


Kinda replated Zig & Zag
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:03 AM on July 3, 2015


You can also see this difference in the UK scene's connection with rock music (via Manchester), which was a foreign idea in the US. We traced our lineage back to electro, hip-hop, industrial, Kraftwerk, disco. Rock was (fairly or not) seen as "other".

That - rock as the old guard - was my 15-year-old's sense of it in the UK at the time too. The rock connection was mostly indie bands glomming on to rave stuff. Some of that was ok - like the stuff Andy Weatherall did with Primal Scream - but Primal Scream soon went back to being an old fashioned Stonesey rock band. (I wouldn't think of, say, New Order as being 'rawk' in that way.)

I also remember seeing Altern8 on TotP and thinking that the rave movement was ushering in a new cultural moment in which manufactured celebrities and the idea of having to have a famous face to front things would seem totally passé. Cue 25 years of Hello magazine, Big Brother, Pop Idol etc.
posted by Mocata at 9:04 AM on July 3, 2015


Cue 25 years of Hello magazine, Big Brother, Pop Idol etc.

Plus the rise of the Superstar DJ / Producer
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:09 AM on July 3, 2015


The dance remix of the Tetris theme by "Doctor Spin" is actually the brainchild of (now Lord) Andrew Lloyd-Webber, to the best of my recollection. Yes, the guy of Phantom Of The Opera and many many more.

I do have the CD single somewhere (yes, it was me, I bought it) - and it definitely has his name and his Really Useful Group company mentioned in the copyright / credits small print, but I think it's stashed away in storage at the moment.

For anyone who thinks they heard the Magic Roundabout based track (Mark Summers - Summers Magic) recentlyish, it was the opening song at the start of the Shaun Pegg movie The World's End.

And big thanks to mippy for introducing me to the Lemmings track - I never even knew there was such a thing! Now to see if I can buy a legit digital download of it, or at least get a CD single 2nd hand from somewhere...
posted by BuxtonTheRed at 9:28 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks, asok and Mocata, for the perspective.

Part of my challenge in understanding the differences between the US and the UK scenes, I think, is that UK-centric sources seem to understand the term "rave" to mean a few specific sounds (UK breakbeat hardcore, Toytown, New Beat, early acid house, Madchester, certain strains of dance-pop) that peaked around 1988–1993—whereas, to me, "rave" encompasses a whole history of electronic music from the late 80s to the present.

I know that the UK government cracked down pretty hard on warehouse-style and open-air events in '94. I guess I've never understood how successful that crackdown was. Perhaps it was more successful than I realized, and that's why UK sources talk about rave as if it had ended by the mid-90s? The music lived on, obviously—but perhaps it moved into nightclubs, and actual raves became scarcer?

That's a wild-ass guess. If anyone with firsthand knowledge of the UK scene can set me straight, I'd appreciate it.

DJ Seduction—Hardcore Heaven
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:34 AM on July 3, 2015


And who could forget the magnificent lyrical stylings of Maurice—This Is Acid?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:38 AM on July 3, 2015


Massive illegal outdoor ones became less common and got supplanted by commercial ventures like Tribal Gathering. There were still smaller ones but in the southeast at least and in London especially the warehouse parties got smaller and clubs got bigger and more businesslike, to the extent that Ministry of Sound's owner provided Peter Mandelson with a car and driver during the 97 election.
posted by Mocata at 9:44 AM on July 3, 2015


IIRC (from magazines), by the mid 90s after the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 94, things started to move away from warehouses towards superclubs - Ministry of Sound, Cream, Gatecrasher, Fabric, etc. and commercially organized festival-type events.

On preview: what Mocata said.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:55 AM on July 3, 2015


Should have linked to Brothers in Rhythm rather than Bizarre Inc above. I think Bizarre Inc actually had greatness thrust upon them when Playing with Knives took off unexpectedly, they weren't necessarily trying to prance around in the spotlight, unlike G*** Josh, who shall remain unlinked.

Yes, escape from the potato planet, conversely when I went overseas and found 'rave' music to mean any kind of dance music, including pounding techno with no 'hands in the air bits', builds, drops or any sense of humour at all, I found that confusing.

The Criminal Justice Bill was enforced with some enthusiasm by the police, who like a soft target when it is available, so putting on 'illegal rave parties' was definitely disrupted. Some of the soundsystems went over seas, to France, Portugal and Bosnia/Croatia, as well as further afield.

As the underground scene was driven more underground or overseas, the superclub scene grew and dress codes, house music, VIP rooms and sunglasses in nightclubs became the norm. There were small clubs with great reputations in unlikely places which still kept the underground 'rave' vibe alive, but these were often subsumed into the superclub vortex when they got any media attention. For instance, the Concorde in Brighton, which was a relatively small room in an old bikers club was home to the Big Beat Boutique from 1995. Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook would drop the freshest big beat tunes as he tried them out on the crowd for the first time. I think you could get a couple of hundred people in there and it was just a decrepit place, like CBGB's.

fearfulsymmetry, Hit Man and Her was filmed at city centre nightclubs which were as unlike raves as you can get, while still having a lot of intoxicated people dancing to music in a big room. Michaela Strachan is still on TV, although now she works with actual animals, rather than Pete Waterman.
posted by asok at 10:13 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The spirit of '88 isn't quite dead, but illegal raves are much the exception rather than the rule and get stomped on pretty quickly
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:20 AM on July 3, 2015


Can't believe we've got this far without D-Mob
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:21 AM on July 3, 2015


fearfulsymmetry, Hit Man and Her was filmed at city centre nightclubs which were as unlike raves as you can get,

Oh yeah... having Stakker on was as much a class of cultures as TOTP was (though nightclubs in the later 80s / 90s would play a bit of rave music esp more alt ones)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:26 AM on July 3, 2015


Well, Pete Waterman was one of the mainstream movers who was very keen to get some raver cash in his pocket. I remember he got Kylie to sing on a couple of tunes as 'Angel' and even went as far as releasing one of them as a white label to try to fool 'real DJ's' into playing a PWL record. He had a little rant about it on HM+H one time, stuck up DJ's wont play my records etc. I think one of the ones she sung on was 'Visionquest Featuring Angel', but I can't find any evidence of it anywhere online after a cursory search.
posted by asok at 10:42 AM on July 3, 2015


Vision Masters! That was it. Knew I wasn't imagining it.
Now this is Nostalgic!

My first ever studio production alongside breaks master Danny Hybrid and master engineer Tony King featuring none other than Kylie when she was acting in neighbours.

The sound was based around an underground event at ANGELS in Burnley Lancashire called VISION and used to attract thousands every Friday in 1991.
posted by asok at 4:52 PM on July 3, 2015


I was sure there was a Sonic one - there was a Hamster Dance song that made the top ten, though about five years too late for the toytown techno fad - but I can't find it anywhere.

I swear there was a proper early- to mid-1990s rave track that sampled "Whistle Stop" from Robin Hood, but Who Sampled gives "Hampton the Hampster" credit as the first one to use the sped-up version. I vividly recall listening to a friend's techo/rave compilation in high school, before Hamster Dance was a thing, and hearing a track that sampled the whistling bit and the laugh. But it's been decades, so my memory may be playing tricks on me.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:08 PM on July 3, 2015


illegal raves are much the exception rather than the rule and get stomped on pretty quickly

Seems to be one every few weeks on Walthamstow Marshes now, attended by a few hundred people and pretty-much left alone by the police and Lee Valley Park wardens. Most are really bad about cleaning up after themselves though. With London clubs increasingly closing due to a combination of police and local authorities wanting an easier life and property developers converting anything they can into expensive flats - plus the high cost of a night out pushing it out of the range of those on lower incomes - illegal raves seem to be on the rise again.
posted by kerplunk at 1:34 AM on July 4, 2015


fearfulsymmetry, Hit Man and Her was filmed at city centre nightclubs which were as unlike raves as you can get, while still having a lot of intoxicated people dancing to music in a big room.

Yeah, I'm not sure how true that is. Certainly by 1990 or so, every city centre club in Liverpool was dominated by house music, at least half of the crowd would have been on Ecstasy.

But they were differentiated by clubs on the scene in that yes -- you'd get perhaps half of the punters still drinking alcohol. But I remember being surprised on the only night I went to the Hacienda at the numbers of people drinking beer in there. You just didn't see that in The State or Quadrant Park.

But the reason I used to love Hitman and Her was because I saw it as reflective of the extent to which the whole rave scene was infecting straight club culture by that point.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:01 AM on July 4, 2015


escape from the potato planet
I think it would be beneficial to you, and indeed everyone on this great thread to read the best book on UK dance culture, Once In A Lifetime by Jane Bussmann.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Once-Lifetime-Afterwards-Paradise-productions/dp/0753502607

It is incredible and an absolute treat to hear all the stories that make dance culture so special, no chinstoking or hype, just 'aving it, being really stupid and having fun, pure and simple.

This fantastic blog might give you an insight into the real UK scene back then too:
https://freepartypeople.wordpress.com/
posted by debord at 4:11 AM on July 5, 2015


Also - Hitman and Her at the Eclipse, Coventry (!):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3HrIPOxpX0

Altern8 live pa and Carl Cox.
posted by debord at 4:18 AM on July 5, 2015


Eclipse! Well, that certainly qualifies as a rave! Their flyers were pretty much the state of the art.
posted by asok at 2:05 AM on July 6, 2015


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