Dance Energy (Virgin, 1990)

Dance Energy

Dance Energy r

DEF II: a teatime programming strand on BBC2, which aired at 6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 May 1988 to 23 May 1994. Its primary function was to serve the teenage market. Janet Street-Porter was head of production and followed on from her influential youth TV show Network 7 which had been broadcast on Channel 4. Many of the presenters and staff on DEF II started their careers on Network 7 and had followed Street-Porter when she was “poached” by the Birmingham Broadcasting Corporation. It had an ident featuring a barcode which differed from the usual idents used on BBC2. Programmes shown as part of DEF II included both original content, such as Reportage, as well as those from other sources, some of them American imports. These included:
Babylon II
Battlestar Galactica
The Big Trip (1994–1996)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Dance Energy
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Goggle Eyes
The Invaders (Continued on BBC2 until the late 1990s)
Les Lives!
Liquid Television
Mission: Impossible
The Real McCoy
The Ren and Stimpy Show
Rough Guides To The World
Standing Room Only
Snub TV
Wayne’s World

“I think it’s time to make the floor burn.”

Dance Energy – a series dedicated to dance, rap, and hip hop – made its debut in the DEF II Monday evening slot. Host was the energetic Normski (a JSP favourite) and the show quickly established itself as a worthy alternative to Top Of The Pops. The heavily-sampled theme tune was co-written by Dave Dorrell who went on to co-present the similar BPM. The formula for the first series was simple: artists and dancers on the studio floor. Making appearances were The Rebel MC, The Ragga Twins, Naughty By Nature and PM Dawn. There were also recorded clips like Jonathan King’s Entertainment USA which covered the far, far away US rap scene. One of my favourite sections was the Style Police: Normski ripping the piss out of people’s fashions in some shopping centre or other. Hilarious.

Inevitably there was a tie-in album. Dance Energy is described as containing “Massive Dance Hits” while the lucky acts to be get namechecked on the front cover are Snap, Massive Attack, 808 State, Caron Wheeler, Monie Love, Ashley & Jackson, A Man Called Adam, Soul II Soul “& Loads More!” It’s another in a long line of crammed vinyl LPs with the first record running for 67 minutes. Although plenty hipsters (then and now) will undoubtedly disagree, thank God for CDs. After the “strictly exclusive” Theme Two Burn Intro, we start with Xpansions stunning take on Lonnie Liston Smith’s Elevation before the righteous Everybody courtesy of the Criminal Element Orchestra. The latter was the first import track to find itself on Capital Radio’s A-List. Adamksi’s mega Killer is followed by the innovative Lisa Loud remix of Bass-O-Matic’s Fascinating Rhythm. Working beats.

CD1 continues to pump the quality. The Euro dance fever of The Cult Of Snap is followed by a superb hip hop stretch that takes in the cream of the new talent. There’s local boys Marco and Femi AKA The Young Disciples and their laidback Get Yourself Together. Also flying the flag are the rap collective Sindecut on the killer bassline of Tell Me Why. Mica Paris gets a dig out from Rakim on the soulful Contribution while Monie Love’s It’s A Shame thrives in this company. The big boss groove: Ashley & Jackson’s #89 chart-buster Solid Gold; a kind of upmarket Loadsamoney that benefited from a subsequent acid jazz remix. After the D.A.I.S.Y. age sound of Wash Your Face In My Sink (Young Disciples), along come Definition Of Sound and their debut 45 Now Is Tomorrow. Go stateside for the last three: LL Cool J’s explosive Mama Said Knock You Out, Kid Frost’s slammin’ hispanic groove La Raza (including haunting sax) and Gang Starr’s philosophical Jazz Thing.

The second disc starts with a heavily concentrated blast of UK soul. First is the rare US import remix of Soul II Soul’s People, a new decade indeed. Now available for the first time in the UK. Next are Innocence and the big funk sound of Let’s Push Hit while Caron Wheeler flies solo on Livin’ In The Light. Mid-80s stars Loose Ends shine on the solemn Don’t Be A Fool while After 7 drop a potent R&B jam Can’t Stop. Ditto for En Vogue’s Hold On. One of the finest tunes of the era was The Masterplan, a funk groove of extreme excellence performed by Diana Brown and Barrie K Sharpe (one time rare groove DJ from the 1970s). “This is our ascension day” – time for one of the greatest ever Balearic tunes, A Man Called Adam’s timeless and ultra uplifting Barefoot In The Head. Every time I play it, I go back to those days. Beaches, long walks, burning the decks of every Ibiza DJ.
“I put a seashell to my ear and it all comes back; the yellow sun . . .the Mediterranean blue, the sky, the children running on the beach that day, the kildear birds marching in formation down to the sea, and back – when my memory wanders, as it does when bad things happen, I put a seashell to my ear and it all comes back; that day . . .you.”

Damage on the dancefloor: time for a couple of indie dance anthems – The Shamen’s hypnotic Make It Mine followed by the radical fusion of funky bass and reggae in the form of I’m Free. And straight out of Bristol, it’s a crew calling themselves Massive Attack with the phenomenal beat building soundscape of Daydreaming. They’re also responsible for remixing the next tune, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s devotional Mustt Mustt in Duckpond Dub form. Bleep in Bradford! Unique 3’s haunted sparse acid Rhythm Takes Control. In the same vein and general area (Leeds), Nightmares On Wax’s masterful Aftermath, “masters of electronic African style percussion” Originally a US import, now placed on the flip of Olympic, is 808 State’s frantic Cubik. And to wind everything down, the gorgeous ‘n’ drifting Floatation by The Grid with vocals by Sacha Souter. Pure hypnotism at its hottest. If you’re looking to capture the sounds of the new decade, then get this. Quality endures.

Favourite tracks
A Man Called Adam – Barefoot In The Head

Massive Attack – Daydreaming

Diana Brown & Barrie K Sharpe – The Masterplan

The Grid – Floatation

Lest we forget
Sindecut – Tell Me Why

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Get On This!!! 2 (Telstar, 1990)

Get On This 2

Get On This 2 r

After my January 2016 review of Telstar’s Get On This, I took six months off. This second volume has 32 dance hits and uses the following acts on the front inlay: Massivo, F.A.B. featuring MC Parker, Bobby Brown, Chad Jackson, Technotronic, Paula Abdul, Blue Pearl, Soup Dragons. The booklet features a painting that wouldn’t be out of place on a 4AD release while pages 6 and 7 have text background that reminds me of Pixies’ Bossanova.

The spectre of Madchester hangs heavy. We begin with Technotronic’s wonderful fourth single, Rockin’ Over The Beat (Rockin’ Over Manchester 7″ Mix) – a nice change from the LP edit – which now seems more evocative as every year passes by. Beat On The Street and debs parties. Yazz’s Treat Me Good is an upfront workout which seems almost reflective in its delivery while Bobby Brown’s Freestyle Megamix (7″) is still marvelous – On Our Own, Don’t Be Cruel, Every Little Step, My Prerogative. We go dark with Queen Latifah’s little-known and elongated Come Into My House, remixed by The 45 King while Monie Love drops the funky Monie In The Middle. Decreasing the tempo, Lisa Stansfield’s Affection and Massivo’s chilled-out twist on Minnie Ripperton’s Loving You. And stones. . . I’m Free.

“It’s so hot in here.”
I worked in a grain yard – Minch Norton – all through the hot summer of 1990. Blue Pearl’s hard-hitting Naked In The Rain formed part of the soundtrack. A stunning debut produced by Youth and ably assisted by 808 State’s Graham Massey. Next comes Chad Jackson’s punishing Hear The Drummer Get Wicked followed by the fabulous F.A.B. and the ’60s marionette banger Thunderbirds Are Go. Anything can happen as we go deep into piano house territory on Tingo Tango’s euphoric It Is Jazz. The ubiquitous Dub Me Good To Me leads into Daryl Pandy’s slamming crossover tune I Love Music. And then Simon Harris returns with a curious cover of Don’t Stop The Music. On duty: Dina Carroll and Monte Luc. CD1 ends on a timely note – I am typing this while watching Spain v Iran.
“Express yourself
It’s one on one.”

Starting CD2: Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe, otherwise known as Bell Biv DeVoe. Poison is tough stuff, programmed pack-jam beats. In the sky with diamonds are Candy Flip and the gorgeous swirl of This Can Be Real. July 1990, post World Cup comedown banger. “Absolutely the most fun I’ve ever had making a video. I recruited everyone I knew. The producer (he’s on the phone next to me), my ex-girlfriends, all my mates (Steve, Chris, Lee, Mole…to name but a few) stood on a conveyor belt and ‘performed’ as they passed the camera. We originally wanted to shoot it in one take – but ended up cutting it. It was summer, we were young, it was great. Not the best video I’ve ever made – but the most enjoyable.” (Miles) Equally laidback is Free, a deadly slice of UK street soul that’s still magic while Fresh Connection’s downtempo version of Love Don’t Live Here Anymore fits in perfectly. Love and devotion. If you like that, you may enjoy IJ & The Sound Wave’s hazy take on 10cc’s I’m Not In Love.

“There’s a pub if you got to go.”
Calling Berwick Street! Take the riff from The Smiths’ How Soon Is Now? and layer it over a Soul II Soul rhythm track. The result was the rather tripped-out Hippychick which fits this sequence like a hand in glove. To the promised land via the Rebel MC – it’s their final release of 1990, the sweetly sung Rebel Music before yet another cover – Da Yeene’s Drive My Car – beep! beep! After Paula Abdul’s funky Opposites Attract, it’s the return of the Maxx – Klymaxx and the swinging Good Love. For some completely different, look no further than the Art Of Love by the Art Of Noise. Their Loaded, an irresistible unique groove. Jamming on, Don Pablo’s well known Venus, Deskee’s crucial Dance Dance, Critical Rhythm’s trance halls sound. End of the line: Salsoul meets Philip Glass in Olimax + DJ Shapps haunting cover of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Once more – let’s make some noise – D-Shake’s pounding epic house banger Yaaah. Beat On The Street choon.

Favourite tracks
D-Shake – Yaaah

Olimax + DJ Shapps – Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

Candy Flip – This Can Be Real

Art Of Noise – Art Of Love

Lest we forget
Tammy Payne – Free

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Love House (K-Tel, 1989)

Love House.jpg

Love House r

I’ll start with some words by Pad B, Terrice and Plug. “As we approach the end of the second Summer Of Love, you’re doing it with the E. Through a progression of acid, deep and garage house there has evolved the emotional phenomena, LOVE HOUSE.”
More: “Love House is an expression of the heart as well as the feet; it crosses barriers, giving definition to those tracks which one finds difficult to categorise as either deep house or soul. ‘NUFF SAID.”
Go on then: “Love House IS all it’s made out to be. Believe the hype; E emotion, the essential sensual. Kiss, kiss.”
Love House was released around the time of making crucial decisions on where to go to college. Right at the end of one of the hottest and fun summers ever. The highlight took place at the RDS on 15 July 1989, still my favourite ever concert. And now, 29 years on, I’m in London, eagerly anticipating seeing The Cure play Hyde Park later this evening.

Open: Bomb The Bass featuring Maureen’s gorgeous rendition of Say A Little Prayer. Two songs later, another 60s makeover with Sybil’s moody Don’t Make Me Over, all about the rhythm. In between, the superb acid masterpiece Voodoo Ray from A Guy Called Gerald. Next comes an obscurity, the soulful weekender jam Love Tonite by Jamaican singer Dave Collins with Jacqui Jones in tow. Then another take on Pierre’s Pfantasy Club’s Dream Girl, this time it’s the Mickey Oliver remix. Meanwhile former Raincoats members and Red Crayola collaborators Gina Birch and Vicky Aspinall formed Dorothy to release a series of dance influenced 12″s and record an album worth of material. It never came out but there’s a hot cover of Reflections here, the 7″ edit remixed by Smith & Mighty.

High: The sublime grooves continue with Donna Allen’s sweet Joy And Pain – evocative of Chamaerops palm trees at Pierre En Vacances. This melts into Alyson Williams’ hard-edged Sleep Talk, a kind of raw swing beat banger. A nice juxtaposition next: Raze – Break 4 Love followed by Razette – Ready For Love. The latter dumps the sleazy house groove of the French Tickler Mix and instead is a more progressive acid mover. Dazzle consisted of two twins, Claudette and the late Paulette Peterson who were former members of Prediction. The success of the wonderfully percussive Dazzle You led to the girls touring the UK performing the track in clubs and giving interviews on regional radio stations. They shared the bill with the likes of Omar and Gwen Guthrie. A rainy night in Arndale.

End: Time for Soulmate, a slammin’ spring jam from Wee Papa Girl Rappers. And then 10DB (Audrey Hollis and Stanley Thermond) with the US funk flavour of I Burn For You. Now for an all-time classic – Joyce Sims stepping out on Come Into My Life. Produced by Kurtis Mantronik and imbued with romantic spirit. From the lady’s perspective:
“Come into my life
I got so much love to show you
Come into my life
Boy I adore you”

Meanwhile Jamie Principle’s Baby Wants To Ride sounds like a more descriptive French Kiss produced by Prince. Finally the Turntable Orchestra leave us sated with the piano house wonder of You’re Gonna Miss Me. One of the best compilations of the era.

“Say goodbye on a night like this
If it’s the last thing we ever do”

Favourite tracks
Donna Allen – Joy And Pain

Joyce Sims – Come Into My Life

Lest we forget
Dazzle – Dazzle You (The Sound System Mix)

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