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Review: Altered State – The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House – by Matthew Collin

altered state

I’ve already read a Matthew Collin book – This is Serbia Calling – so I was chuffed when I stumbled upon this work, a history of UK dance music culture. As a DJ and Promoter for 24 years I’m quite aware of a lot of the history of dance music in the UK. This book, however, filled in many of the gaps, and was a thoroughly entertaining and enlightening read. The well known story of how acid house culture came to the UK via Ibiza’s Summer of Love where Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold and Trevor Fung experienced the delight’s of Alfredo weaving magic on the White Isle and brought back their ideas to the London clubscene, is a familiar tale, often recited religiously in club culture publications like Mixmag. The author gives a comprehensive account of the beginnings and it was great to hear the true story and what bliss these guys must have experienced. Shoom, Spectrum and the Milk Bar launched successfully and the early adopters were soon welcoming new ‘Acid Teds’ and a hippy revival based on lush house electronica began to hit the mainstream. The book looks at London and Manchester in detail as well as exploring some of the less likelier destinations of UK club culture like Blackburn and later the countryside free party and rave movement. The study of the fracture of dance music into its various sub-genres and the movement of people that followed each branch provides much analysis and we see Warehouse parties, techno anarchists, drum and bass division and later the emergence of new genres like speed garage, grime and dubstep. The book focuses a lot on the role of narcotics in this new ascendant youth culture. The critical importance of ecstasy (MDMA) to the whole movement which eventually led to a massive increase and normalisation of drug culture across the country, with polydrug use becoming popular and clubbers and ravers exploring acid (LSD), cocaine, heroin, ketamine, amphetamines and the various different types of cannabis. It’s amazing how much anti dance music propaganda was spread by the media. Governments were scared and there was a great deal of legislation set up to counter the whole movement. Enlightened masses were a danger to the establishment and the whole culture was seen as an alternative political situation. The long-running battles between promoters, DJs and the UK Police was interesting and it was…

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Review: The Life and Lines of Brandon Block by Matt Trollope

brandon block

I was a DJ myself back in the 1990s and although I never played alongside Brandon Block, I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times. Once, on his father’s birthday in a London bar/club, I had just got out of one of my early mental health hospital stints and I think Brandon was in recovery…. I asked him for some advice and told him about my experiences and he gave me some real pointers about how to deal with my situation, probably moreso than any other professional who works in this industry has given me. Read this book and you read a tale of horror. People believe that DJing is glamorous and fun, but just get stuck into Brandon’s revealing, heartfelt story, and you will immediately see the pain and suffering that comes your way in the murky world of dance music performance. After all the early breaks, once the scene got into full swing and Brandon Block had established a growing reputation, he was pretty soon stuck into an ounce a day cocaine habit. He’s a personality DJ in house music, meaning not that he chats and laughs while playing – his sets are pure banging party rocking professionally done same as may other at the top of their game. Brandon likes to party too much and his notoriety led him well astray. I loved hearing how he began the whole Space Terrace and his fame in Ibiza alongside Alex P is pretty much unrivalled out Ibiza way. The whole Flying and Charlie Chester story was really interesting even if it broke apart slightly. He seems a down to earth good guy, a victim of his own success. Some of the mental health battles after drug addiction took its toll really hit the nail on the head for me. A lot of the venues and clubs were very familiar as indeed many of the characters. The clubscene fraternity is only but a village, even in its global stretches that it reaches nowadays. The 3 gigs a night blasting around the motorways and hitting lines of coke at every red light when the traffic stopped. All seemed absolutely necessary to continue to deliver the acid house that this Big Name DJ believed in. In latter years Mr Block did his fair share of charity work, feeding back into drug rehabilitation centres as a qualified counsellor. He is…

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Review: Mister Good Times by Norman Jay MBE

mister good times

I was lucky enough to be a warm up DJ for Norman Jay back in the 1990s in The Cross Nightclub, London and I think I was billed on a couple of other events with him. He was a great DJ, I remember him once, in Ministry of Sound, having a full glass of drink topple on the bar decks where he was spinning from the above balcony and Norman, lightning quick just kept the music rolling and not even a skip of the needle. The book is divided up into several unique sections. The first part covers Norman’s Good Times sound system at Notting Hill Carnival which is for what he has been most famous. The whole logistics of such an event is well detailed enough for the professional DJ to thoroughly enjoy and learn from and to any reader the whole politics and excitement and logistics of such a fun event must be enlightening. The book covers Norman’s childhood, whereby he was brought up in Ladbroke Grove, West London to Windrush Caribbean immigrant parents, both of whom seemed very hardworking and supportive and keen to give their family the best start to life. The book discusses a lot about how being a black DJ was defined during the early years of the deck revolution. For me, a highlight was Norman’s journey to New York, where he learnt the best of what would be culturally exported from the USA to British streets. Norman Jay’s love for Tottenham Hotspur football club is covered in detail and during the excitement of terraces and the emergence of the hooligan years it is great reading of times past and the fun and frolics of being a serious football fan. For me, as a Liverpool fan it was truly disturbing to read about racism at Anfield back in the 1970s. Growing up in the John Barnes era of Liverpool, for me I always felt that we were a progressive club when it came to racism which is still a fight in the beautiful game to this very day. I really wanted for the book to keep running once it hit the years of house music. The warehouse parties with Judge Jules thrown across London were particularly interesting, the funniest moment in the tale, when the Met Police tried robbing all the takings from the promoters and Judge Jules and Norman hid under raincoats, pretending…

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Wide-Eyed Wild

Wide-Eyed Wild

I’ve gone back to my (progressive) house roots for this mix… Dug deep by analysing what Sasha & Digweed have been laying recently and adding my own bit of spice to the track selection. From the early mix tapes, through to Renaissance and Northern Exposure, Sasha & Digweed have been luminary artists in the dance music scene and I always draw inspiration from the way they maintain themselves at the cutting edge of the evolution of Electronica… In this mix, you’ll hear deep bassy sounds with plenty of melody and the odd vocal… Lose yourselves in the Wide-Eyed Wild with Wez G! :::TRACKLISTING::: 1. Yaman S – Don’t You Know (Original Mix) [keepitpure music] 2. H.O.S.H. – Dancer (Original Mix) [Bedrock Records] 3. Dave Nash – Say What (Original Mix) [Incorrect Music] 4. Leon Vynehall – Butterflies (Original Mix) [Clone Royal Oak] 5. John Monkman – L.O.V.E.R. (Hallo Halo Remix) [Be Crazy Music] 6. ThermalBear – Ownership (Original Mix) [Last Night On Earth] 7. Fat Sushi – Problems (Original Mix) [Light My Fire] 8. Calma – Broken Record (Original Mix) [Soundpark] 9. Boss Axis – Golden Hour (Sebastian Boldt & Emka Remix) [Parquet Recordings] 10. Maher Daniel – A Call From Within (Original Mix) [No.19 Music] 11.Luca Bacchetti – The Space Between Us (Original Mix) [Endless] 12. Alex Niggemann – Bee (Original Mix) [Poker Flat Recordings] 13. COMA – Les Dilettantes (Roosevelt Mix) [Bedrock Records] 14. Anton Pieete – Loner (Edwin Oosterwal Organ Mix) [Rejected] 15. Megman Vs Wez G – Monkey Loving [White] Wez G – Wide-Eyed Wild by Wez G on Mixcloud

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Dolphin Deep (Chillout)

Time for another mix in the Wez G chillout series. It’s a beaming hot summer and it’s always nice to get some fresh, sunny tunes to while away the time… This mix goes a little more four-four than usual and might be a post-sunset Cafe Del Mar session… It’s (dolphin) deep and funky and quite acoustic… I enjoyed it, especially going more full-flow towards the end… :::TRACKLISTING::: 1. World Of Intros -Vietnam Intro (Reporter Mix) [Butcher Music] 2. 9 In Common -Action & Reaction (Original Mix) [Seamless Recordings] 3. James Solid – Underwater Rain (Original Mix) [Solid Fabric Recordings] 4. Puremusic – Unsaid (Original Mix) [Silk Sofa Music] 5. Oniris, Pat Brooks – The Rebirth (Blissed Out Mix) [Bedrock Records] 6. Rodg – Into Nothing (Original Mix) [Body Condition] 7. Rodg – Life Is Life (Chill Mix) [Body Condition] 8. The Grid – Floatation (Prins Thomas Miks) [Klik Records] 9. Club Des Belugas – Welcome to Brazil (Papa Cobana Hiphop Soccer Remix) [ChinChin Records] 10. Seconds – Another Day (Lexx Remix) [Klik Records] 11. Agnostica – Wildcat (Original Version) [Audiokult] 12. Chuva Speaks Arab – Airplanes (Name Surname Mix) [Hotfingers] 13. Ian Tosel – Lookin At You (Original Mix) [Prison Entertainment] 14. Gorkiz, Close Enough – Stars (Lou Van Remix) [Sleazy Deep] 15. Framewerk – Electric Religion (Original Mix) [Prison Entertainment] 16. Max Lyazgin, JazzyFunk – Element of Life (Ed’s Dream) (Original Mix) [Deepalma] 17. Loui & Scibi – Your Love Feat. Nuwella (Ian Tosel Remix) [Milk & Sugar] 18. WhoMadeWho – Heads Above (Original Mix) [Darup Associates] 19. London Grammar – Hey Now (Sasha Remix) [Metal & Dust Recordings Ltd] 20. M.A.N.D.Y., Booka Shade – Home (Kollektiv Turmstrasse – Interstellar Mix) [Deepalma] Wez G – Dolphin Deep (Chillout) by Wez G on Mixcloud

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Head Alchemy

Head Alchemy

I felt like a bit of a change, a bit of an up-tempo feel to the mix to warm those toes in the murky winter weather… I’d recently put together a nice acid house feeling dub for a Brazilian vocalist to work on and wanted to fit it into the mix… It is Hacienda style Acid House… This mix flows from Acid House to techno and back down to Acid… I wanted to bang it up to full-on Adam Beyer style techno and add in some Goa Trance but unfortunately couldn’t get the tempo geared up that high in 80 minutes… Some nice Laurent Garnier tracks thrown in and he has been a big influence on me as a DJ – I’ve never seen anyone at all demonstrate crowd control on a dancefloor like he does… He’s like an operatic conductor and his versatility and range of music in his sets is astonishing… I started off in the scene listening to a lot of techno and playing it so I guess this mix is taking me back full circle… :::TRACKLISTING::: 1. Wez G – Brasil Acid (Dub) [White] 2. Joey Beltram – Energy Flash (Original Mix) [Transmat] 3. Irregular Synth, Andrea Frisina – Dub City (Lutzenkirchen Remix) [Gate Null Recordings] 4. The Japanese Popstars – Heavy Hitter (Sharooz Remix) [Bedrock Records] 5. Paul Ritch – Run Baby Run (Original Mix) [Drumcode] 6. Gabriel D’Or, Bordoy – Kepler 69 (Original Mix) [MKT rec] 7. Soulik – Enjoy This Trip (Original Mix) [Audio Elite] 8. Möd3rn – Mö 3 (Original Mix) [Mod3rn] 9. Scan X – Midnight (Laurent Garnier Edit) [WTF! Music] 10. 04LM – Tragicaller (Original Mix) [Soma Records] 11. Gayle San – The Porter (Original Mix) [H-Productions] 12. Kollektiv Turmstrasse – Grillen im Park (Dreher & Sm.art Remix) [DJ Series] 13. Mark Henning – Blackout (Original Mix) [Soma Records] 14. Syco – Danaka [Oxygen Music Works] 15. Laurent Garnier – Jacques In The Box (Chicago Bordelo Remix) [Ed Banger Records / Because Music] 16. Dax J – Spotlights (Original Mix) [Unknown Territory] Wez G – Head Alchemy by Wez G on Mixcloud

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