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Review: Happy Mondays – Excess All Areas – by Simon Spence

Happy Mondays

This is the third Simon Spence book that I have read. He is a very talented music journalist from Manchester with a taste for documenting, wild, stylish cultural movements that have emerged from the Madchester craziness. Excess All Areas covers perhaps the most successful and innovative band to have ridden the early acid house craze that swept the nation in the mate 1980s. With the charismatic Shaun Ryder heading up the band, a true hedonist, a notorious substance abuser, it was always difficult for the true Happy Mondays to translate through the myriad web of journalists who tried to document them. Ryder, much to the annoyance of most of the musical backdrop of the band, Paul Ryder (Bass), Gary Whelan (Drums), Paul Davis (keyboard), Mark Day (Guitar), Mark ‘Bez’ Berry (dancer), got into a habit of blagging the press and feeding them over the top exaggerations of the band’s history and exploits. In hindsight, this was pure marketing genius and led to much of the mystery and notoriety that paved the way for success. However, it sifting all the bullshit, has made the writing of this book that much more difficult for Simon Spence. The early days of a relatively privileged middle class upbringing contrasts with the bunch of Manchester council estate ‘scallies’ they tried to portray themselves as. Sure there was petty crime and shopflifting etc. but nothing serious, although perhaps the addition of Bez to the group was actually verging on real true life crime as he obviously was up to the neck in it as a youngster and quite obviously expanded his mini empire quite a lot under the guise of being part of the band…. Manchester Giants, Factory Records and Tony Wilson picked up the band and signed them which paved their way to success following the ilk of luminaries Joy Division and New Order and allowing them direct access to one of the UK’s most influential music venues, the Haçienda. It all happened at just the right time for this band, as the cultural rebellion against failed Thatcherism took hold of the UK’s disillusioned youth masses and expressed itself in the ‘Acid House’ movement. Ecstasy-fuelled, fashion shifts, mass movement and gathering of people in raves, parties and festivals, vast increase in polydrug clubbing and mainstream ending of anti-drug taboos. A lot of this movement was driven by DJs and the Mondays’ uniqueness was that they…

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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: Still Breathing: The True Adventures of the Donnelly Brothers – by Anthony and Christopher Donnelly (and Simon Spence)

still breathing

Chris and Anthony Donnelly are two likely lads from Wythenshawe, Manchester. Growing up to a backdrop of crime, allegedly part of the the notorious Quality Street Gang, these entrepreneurs became leading figures in the birth of Manchester’s Acid House scene, initiating illegal raves and forging bonds and networks across music from the Hacienda to the launch of their own short-lived crime-ridden Parliament Club, at the peak of The Gunchester headlines when Guns and gangs took hold in Manchester. After heading out of music they entered the world of fashion, launching Gio-Goi. Using a mixture of guerrilla marketing, incorporating their music friends and street buddies, they became a necessity of fashionistas. The brand ultimately became corporate turning over £40 million a year at its height. This tale, interview-style, arranged by Stone Roses biographer, Simon Spence, is a true journey of life’s ups and downs, for a most colourful family. From drug busts, media headlines and jail sentences to filming videos with Pete Doherty and Deadmau5. I especially enjoyed the reminiscences of Old Skool Hacienda DJs, Mike Pickering, Jon Dasilva and Graeme Park. This book has it all. I’m sure that no party is complete without the Donnelly brothers influencing it in some way.

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Genealogies of Knowledge Presentation by Mona Baker at MLANG, Cardiff University, 22.02.17

This presentation was given by Mona Baker, Professor of Translation Studies at the University of Manchester. Mona is a key figure in the field of Translation and I have read and reviewed her core textbook on Translation Methods: In Other Words. Mona Baker at MLANG, Cardiff University This lecture presents ‘Genealogies of Knowledge‘ – ‘The Evolution and Contestation of Concepts Across Time and Space.’ ( @Genofknow) This is a project that started in April 2016 and has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for 4 years at a cost of £1 million. It is a corpora-based study of translations whereby a digital model is built up and records in database format data which comprises these translations which form a critical part of human knowledge. Mona would be giving demonstrations of the software in action, software that can be accessed via the official website of the project at http://genealogiesofknowledge.net Four people head up the Genealogies of Knowledge study. In charge of Translations and Classics we have Mona Baker, Luis Pérez Gónzalez and Peter Pormann. Taking care of Computer Science for the project is Saturnino Luz of the University of Edinburgh. Sitting on the advisory board of the project are experts in Politics, Classics, Medieval Studies, French, German, Translation Studies and History. Due to the volume of work that the project entails they could employ twice as many people. Translation is at the centre of the enquiry. Project looks at role in shaping intellectual history – emphasis on politics and science strong historical dimension Emphasis on historical lingua francas – Ancient Greek, Medieval Arabic, Latin and Modern English (primarily but not exclusively as Target Languages. Corpus-based – involves building several types of corpora, in the 4 lingua francas. There weren’t enough people involved in the study to cover the period of history when French was a lingua franca The project takes ‘Slices of Time’ There is a strong computational element – involves developing new, freeware software and interfaces Emphasis on visualization, especially of historical processes Builds on, refines and considerably extends pre-existing TEC (Translational English Corpus) software and methodology. After giving an introduction, Mona went on to demonstrate the software in action, even if it is still very much a work in progress. The Basic Tool of the software is KWIC, a keyword interface. With the Visualization element critical, the software delivers a Concordance Tree Browser that demonstrates dominant…

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Review: Touching from a Distance – Ian Curtis and Joy Division – by Deborah Curtis

ian curtis

I am a massive fan of Joy Division and feel that the band’s greatness has always been tainted by lead singer, Ian Curtis’ early death. He was a modern day British Jim Morrison, a trapped poet, muse to millions. This book, a heartfelt examination of the real man by his loving wife, serves as a poignant celebration of Ian Curtis. The biography is intimate in its detail and we are not just scratching the surface here but getting a true glimpse of what made this dark poet tick. His early fascination with a young death and suicide provide a recurring theme. From poverty through to a point where huge success was imminent and all their material worries would be over, Ian Curtis killed himself at the cusp of true legend status for his band. He has a mixed relationship with his wife, ultimately forcing her to endure a rock n roll affair through his Belgian mistress. He was truly torn and love ultimately did tear him apart. I found the struggle with epilepsy to be the underlying factor that drove Ian Curtis to death. It must have been horrific to live with such a chronic condition and yet he still rarely missed a live performance and maybe the forthcoming trip to America was just one jettison too far? This book is thoroughly readable, a true page-turner. I feel, having read it, closer to Ian Curtis and indeed one of my most favourite bands.

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Park It In The Club With No Name

DJ Set 07 Park It In The Club With No Name

Listen to Wez G – Park It In The Club With No Name byWez G on hearthis.at    Well, Dion, Here is your nineties house. Classics are hard to define. bearing in mind my age means that I missed the really early stuff, I tried to include on this mix lots of stuff from when the Haçienda was still open and also in the fairly vocal style of Graeme Park. I’ll let rip with any other special requests, so listeners please give feedback. Please excuse the record jumps on the mix as some of the tunes are quite old. i didn’t think the skips harmed the set that much so I uploaded it anyway… Enough banter. At least I’m not droning on about shamanic rubbish (see the other podcast blurbs!!! on http://djwezg.com ). I’ll let the music do the talking. Enjoy and shuffle those feet! :::TRACKLISTING::: 1. King Bee – Back by Dope Demand (12″ Straight Up Mix) [Big One Records] 2. Kariya – Let Me Love You For Tonight (House Club Original) [Ripe Recordings] 3. Kristine W – Feel What You Want (Our Tribe Vocal Mix) [Champion Records] 4. SAS – Amber Groove (Original Mix) [Distinct’ive] 5. Dee Patten – Who’s The Bad Man (Sound System Mix) [Hard Hands] 6. Chrissy Ward – Right & Exact (Stonebridge Mix) [Ore] 7. Volcano – Let Your Body Be Free [Deconstruction] 8. Commission (feat Janet Lewinson) – One Man [Cleveland City] 9. A Separate Reality feat. Lyn Gerald – Let No Man Put Asunder (It’s Not Over) [Hard Discs] 10. Barry White – Love Is The Icon (Roger’s Midnite Luv Mix) [AM:PM] 11. C & C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) The Slammin’ Vocal Club Mix [Columbia] 12. Nomad – Just A Groove (DJ’s Rule The Mix Part 1) [Rumour Records] 13. M People – Renaissance (Macsilva Mix) [Deconstruction] 14. M People – One Night In Heaven (David Morales Elegantly American Club Mix) [Deconstruction] 15. Tocayo – Live In Peace (Guitar mix) [Limbo] 16. Screen II – Mr DJ (Dasilva/McCreary Mix) [Cleveland City] 17. A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray (Original Mix) [Juice Box Records] Wez G – Park It In The Club With No Name by Wezg on Mixcloud

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