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Signal Groove Jungle Section

signal groove

Last year in January / February 2019, I was placed under section 3 of the Mental Health Act and detained and treated against consent at St Cadoc’s Hospital for about four months. I had spent the evening doing a re-edit of this drum and bass track: Wez G – Signal Groove. I had met a nice Iranian Jungle producer and DJ at Fabric in London for the Metalheadz Christmas Party event with Fabio, Grooverider and Doc Scott and this new friend had expressed an interest in signing Signal Groove to a decent Drum and Bass label. I just needed to rework it slightly and get it mastered. Gwent Police turned up at end of studio session prior to me being able to save the new edited files. I ripped up a great new version. They handcuffed me and banged in the van and dragged me off and then at the hospital threatened to shoot me next time they see me in public about which I have a current IPCC complaint going on. I lost my court appeal case and the Indian / Pakistani psychiatrist Dr Megheri, who treated me believed whole thing was a ‘Delusion of Grandeur’ Obviously there is now a delay on this project but I will rework the track again and hopefully the business offer will still be on the table and it can be put out there to the dancefloors where it belongs. Wez G

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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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Review: Doing The Business – The Final Confession of the Senior Kray brother by Colin Fry and Charlie Kray

doing the business

The notoriety of the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie, is present in their legacy. These were the most infamous London gangsters to emerge during the 1960s. Their older brother, Charlie, used to try and keep his distance from Firm activities, yet he had a lot of insider knowledge of operations. In this confession, he reveals many of the truths behind the Kray twins and in this book, in a relaxed and casual manner, Charlie Kray exposes the realities of the true story. The biography takes us back to the childhood of the Krays and the start of the tale tells of the three brothers and their youthful vitality as boxers in East London’s heart, Bethnal Green. Some of the more interesting tales cover breaking Ronnie out of mental hospitals, the setting up of various base of operations in nightclubs. Also, there is a lot of dealing with celebrities, and of course, how to invest profits, with trips abroad into the heart of Africa, looking for investment opportunities. Liaisons with the American Mafia, once their security strategy and business dominance as entertainment Kingpins in London’s West End had been established. There isn’t a massive amount of revelation with regard to the two major incidents that eventually took down Ronnie and Reggie: the murder of George Cornell in the Blind Beggar pub and the murder of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVie by Reggie in a frenzied knife attack. There’s not su much revealing of criminal activity, but more a general overview of the main movements of the Kray operations. It’s a great tale, full of mystery and it is clear that the Kray legend was born out of some pretty successful true events. I think the book is perhaps a little too brief and a bit scanty in parts and I will have to follow up with further research by covering other works. It was a sad state of affairs that the police continued to pursue Charlie after they had put the twins away until they finally managed to fit him up as a large cocaine trafficker and send him to the jail where he spent out most of his latter years. True adventure, true crime, true life.

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Review: Kanaval – Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haïti – by Leah Gordon

Leah Gordon is a former punk artist from London. She is also a photographer and this book reflects upon her experiences of Kanaval on the streets of Jacmel in Haïti between 1995 and 2010. Haïti was the first black republic in the Western hemisphere, a black slave nation that overthrew the yolk of its French European masters. A core component of the revolution’s power was the African-inspired Vodou belief system and intertwined with politics the Kanaval (Creolisation of Carnival) traces its routes to the clandestine slave gatherings in the upland forests of the island. Gordon takes powerful black and white images of the key Kanaval characters and interviews these characters, capturing a series of oral histories from the poor local inhabitants who invest their energy effortlessly, creating characters, making costumes, designing props, organising dance routines and applying makeup, to create this pre-Lentern annual orgy of street theatre and fiesta. We meet the Lanse Kòd (The Rope Throwers), Jwif Eran (Wandering Jew), Papa Sida (Father of AIDS), Oungan (Vodou Priest), St Michel and also the Satanic Zel Maturin (The Wings of Maturin). These characters act out a fight of good versus evil, they challenge the audiences to raise small amounts of money and to reflect upon the political realities of Haïtian life. There is a series of critical essays throughout the book from key researchers of Haïti, that reflect upon the essence of Leah Gordon’s work. The book is enlightening and the images, that can be very disturbing, project an exoticism and spirituality that gives the reader a true taste of the Kanaval performers’ messages and allows the reader a glimpse of the post-colonial ‘Other’ that is the Caribbean.

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