Celebrating Old Skool Music, Culture and Legacy
So this is it… the end of another year; a year that marked 30 years since the 1988 acid house explosion and the “second summer of love”. It’s been a great year for the old skool scene with numerous cultural events, book and album releases and old skool events and festivals. So with that in mind we thought we’d take a look back over the last twelve months and reflect on some of the events and releases that have excited us the most. We give our opinions on the 3 best albums, books, cultural events, interviews and parties of the year as well as a preview of what to expect in 2019.
For all the positives 2018 hasn’t always been plain sailing and has come with it’s fair share of losses. This year we lost the talents of Tango, Stormin and Paul “Trouble” Anderson, only serving as a reminder that nothing in this life is guaranteed, so go out there, grab life by the short and curlies, and be sure not to be a passenger. I’m not sure how I feel about new-year’s resolutions – some work wonders (I refer you to Billy Bunter’s waistline) while others seem destined to fail – but one thing we should all aspire to is to move into 2019 with the commitment to push ourselves out of our comfort zones with the belief that we can be even better than we already are.
We’d like to thank each and every person that has ever read, liked, shared or commented on any of our articles or posts – without the support of our community this site wouldn’t work at all – have a fantastic new year! Hope you enjoy this review of 2018…
2018 Was A Good Year For… Albums
Here, in no particular order, are the three albums that really floated my boat in 2018:
1. “It’s About Time” – Vibes & Hattrixx
For an album that was supposed to be released in December 2017 they were really pushing their luck with the album title! “It’s About Time” is an utterly brilliant slice of soulful breakbeat delivered with one eye on the early nineties hardcore scene and another on contemporary production techniques. Unfortunately, due to it’s very limited release, it’ll never get the widespread acclaim it truly deserves. However, the last I heard there were still some copies available so if you think it’s something you might be interested in check out our full review from last summer before you commit. If you enjoyed the early Vibes & Wishdokta releases you’ll treasure this – the sound of summer 2018.
2. “Calling The Hardcore Volume 1” – Various Artists
Proving that hardcore really doesn’t die this triple-vinyl compilation album of new and previously unreleased tunes featured tracks that represent the full spectrum of modern breakbeat hardcore. Inspired by the hugely popular ‘Calling The Hardcore’ events in Brighton, this album showcased new music from up-and-coming artists as well as offerings from such stalwarts of the scene as Ron Wells and Ellis D. This is an album that re-sparked my interest in modern breakbeat hardcore and had me exploring numerous other labels – a healthy addition to an exciting scene. You can read our interview with the man behind ‘Calling The Hardcore’ (Sammy Purcell) here.
3. “No Tourists” – The Prodigy
Three years on from their previous album The Prodigy released “No Tourists” in November this year complete with a UK arena tour. It’s fair to say that the bands musical style has changed a lot over the years and whether they’re still a “rave band” is up for debate. However, what was particularly interesting about their latest release was the artwork used to promote the album – a bold reference to their humble beginnings at Labrynth at the birth of the hardcore scene. For more info on the artwork see here. The album itself was brief – clocking in at just under 40 minutes – but packed with some absolute gems including the old skool-tinged “We Live Forever” and “Light Up The Sky”.
2018 Was A Good Year For… Books
With so many good books now being released to document the rise of the early rave scene here are three (in no particular order) that stood out as being top of the pile:
1. “How To Squander Your Potential (VIP Mix)” – Christopher Howell
Okay, so this was released in December 2017 but as I didn’t read it until April it certainly qualifies for this list. Plus, I make the rules. So there. This is a book so good I’m currently on my second read through. Usually when I’m reading books that might be of interest to the website I take notes, but in this instance I was so engrossed I managed to finish without lifting a pen! It’s a great insight into the early rave scene, the pitfalls of the music industry and the tolls that fame/notoriety can take. Chris Howell (DJ Luna-C) has a very engaging writing style (check his Facebook page for further proof) and is brutally honest in this open account of the rise and fall of Smart-E’s and the evolution of Kniteforce Records. I totally recommend. In fact, this time around I’m taking notes – full review coming (at long last) in 2019!
2. “Class of ’88” – Wayne Anthony
I first read “Class of ’88” nearly two decades ago so when I heard that there was going to be a twenty year anniversary edition I couldn’t wait to delve back into the world of the the early acid house and illegal party scene. What I love about this book is that it’s written with passion by someone with first-hand experience of the behind-the-scenes world of illegal party promotion. Wayne Anthony organised parties under the Genesis name for many years and his book both indulges in the excesses while also exploring the darker side of an unregulated scene that was rife for exploitation by the criminal underworld. This edition of the book has an updated introduction and new imagery. I felt very privileged to be able to interview Wayne for the website – you can read the full book review and interview here.
3. “Intelligent Woman” – DJ Rap
The moment I heard that DJ Rap was going to release her book via Music Mondays I immediately placed my pre-order. Not just because Music Mondays has a solid track record of quality book releases, but because DJ Rap – AKA Charissa Saverio – has a deeply interesting story to tell. As the first woman to play the main stages she offers a unique perspective on the birth of jungle and it’s progression to drum and bass. I just could not put this book down as she recounted the highs and lows of a thirty year career in the industry. Earlier in the year I had the good fortune to be able to interview Rap for the site and her passion and drive were both palpable and admirable. It’s fair to say that these qualities comes across well in her book whilst also giving an insight into how they developed. Full review coming in 2019…
2018 Was A Good Year For… Celebrating Culture
The great thing about the old skool rave scene at the moment is that we’re able to celebrate every facet by celebrating through artwork, music, design, seminars and workshops. Here are three highlights of 2018:
1. The Rave Story 2018
In it’s third year The Rave Story continued to bring together punters, promoters, label owners, pirate radio pioneers, DJs and artists. This third year saw contributions from Paul Ibiza, The Ragga Twins, Richard Raindance, Ratpack, Joe Labrynth, Eastman, Chalkie White, MC Flux and 2 Bad Mice amongst many others. Yet again the event provided a three day celebration of the culture of our scene including an art gallery, pop-up record shop, workshops and a series of seminars. There’s no word yet if there will be a Rave Story 2019 but no doubt the announcement will come soon give the clear demand for such events. The Rave Story 2018 culminated in a fantastic night of music by some of the scene’s most influential artists. Time allowing I’ll be there for all three nights in 2019.
2. One Foot In The Rave
These days we take it for granted that Leeds holds a special place in the rise of dance culture yet this was the first event of its kind to celebrate the city’s significant contribution to the history of dance music in the UK. Thirty years on from the acid house revolution, One Foot in the Rave celebrated the legacy of Back to Basics, Hard Times, Kaos, Orbit, Soak, Up Yer Ronson and Vague. The week-long event was curated by club legend Tony Hannan and looked at the long-lasting impact those clubs had on the global scene, as well as the influence the people who ran them continue to have in arts, culture, fashion, music and night time economy. Long may it continue and we hold out for word that this event is more than just a one-off…
3. Afrofutures – Junior Tomlin
Junior Tomlin is responsible for some of the most recognisable and iconic imagery of the early rave scene having produced flyers for Telepathy, Dreamscape, Slammin’ Vinyl, One Nation, Dream Odyssey and Ravealation among many others. In November this year his Afrofutures exhibition predominantly featured Junior’s digital works alongside examples of early flyers and record covers. Rave culture owes more to its longevity than the music alone so this exhibition was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the creativity of one of the scene’s most influential visual artists. A personal ambition is to proudly display a Junior Tomlin piece of art in my living room – may 2019 bring greater opportunities for us to celebrate the visual art of the rave scene’s creative visionaries.
2018 Was A Good Year For… Interviews
One of the biggest joys of The Rave Generation experience is in interviewing the people that have had such an influence on the scene we hold so dear. In chronological order here are three of the most memorable interviews of 2018:
1. Mark Archer
In 1992 Altern 8 released “Full On Mask Hysteria” and along with The Prodigy’s “Experience” it became the soundtrack to my teenage years. FOMH was never out of my playlist and when Mark Archer eventually released music as Slo Moshun I lapped that up too. In 2016 I read his brilliant autobiography and finally in April of this year I got to meet and interview the man himself. Four months into his 30th anniversary tour I had the total pleasure of interviewing Mark on the evening of his special “All Night Long” gig (where he played an uninterrupted six-hour set) and I was able to confirm that Mark Archer is in fact a top bloke. I was able to quiz Mark on his plans for the night, the tour so far, and his reflections on a career spanning three decades in the business. Read the full interview and review of the night here.
2. Tim Garbutt (Utah Saints)
To be able to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Utah Saint’s eponymous debut album with an interview with Tim Garbutt (one half of the band) was a very special opportunity and received great feedback when I first posted it back in June. Tim made for a very easy interviewee and gave a good insight into how the band was born, his perceptions of the burgeoning rave scene and whether he thought of Utah Saint as a ‘rave band’ (the answer can be found in the full interview here). A great feature of the original album was that it featured so many different musical styles – being able to ask Tim about this was a real honour. At one point I felt this interview was beyond reach but I’m glad to say that Tim was always obliging and really supportive.
3. Joe Wieczorek
What an honour it was to interview Joe Wieczorek – promoter of the legendary Labrynth club nights at the Four Aces club on Dalston Lane. When I arrived at his place of work for the interview I remember looking at his colleagues and thinking “do you know what this guy has donethis guys place in rave history?!” Joe was such an easy interviewee and always happy to clarify a point or elaborate on a story. When it came to putting together his interview the greatest challenge was in the editing – I had so much great content that I could have easily split it into two parts but instead I opted for the longest article I have yet to publish at over 5000 words! This is a guy with so much to say that I hope he eventually completes his book – his story of giving The Prodigy their first gig stands out in particular. Read the full interview here.
2018 Was A Good Year For… Parties
Rave will never die. The old skool rave scene is more alive than ever before and every weekend there are events celebrating the golden years of the rave scene – in no particular order here are three of the year’s greatest stand-out events:
1. Lazy Sunday Festival 2018
As long as Jay “Fat Controller” Folly keeps doing these I’ll be turning up with sun cream in one hand and an umbrella in the other – you just can’t trust British weather! Lazy Sunday 2018 was by far my wettest, and most fun, dance experience of the year… The music will always be good, that’s never in question – the previous two years years have seen the likes of RatPack, Shades of Rhythm, Slipmatt, 2 Bad Mice, Liquid, Mark XTC, Rachel Wallace, Cosmo & Dibs, Lavery, Billy Bunter and Uncle Dugs performing come rain or shine. Last year was the most gloriously sunny day of the year whereas 2018 brought the hardest rain for the first few hours at least. But… as Russ Abbot said “what an atmosphere”! A fantastic day of like-minded people jumping around in muddy puddles as though it was the the hottest August afternoon in Ibiza! I’ve written a full review here – see you next year…
2. Mark Archer – All Night Long
Mark Archer playing a straight six-hour DJ set only punctuated by an hour wearing the mask for a full-on Altern 8 PA. Amazing right? What an awesome evening this was – taking the crowd on a journey from Detroit Techno and Acid House to Jungle via classic hardcore and rave anthems. I met so many great people that evening, from groups in their early twenties reverently donning dust masks, to folks in their 40’s and 50’s who recognise a mark (no pun intended) of quality when they see one. One of the most memorable moments of the night came at the stroke of one when an already hyped crowd were showered in glo-sticks which were soon being held aloft as the otherworldly hoovers of “Move My Body” played out. Check out the full review of the night here.
3. Labrynth 30th
An incredible line-up for a very special anniversary. In November Labrynth celebrated it’s 30th birthday in style at Electric Brixton featuring such luminaries of the scene as Fast Eddie, Liquid, Alison Limerick, Kenny Ken, Billy Bunter, Vibes, Ellis D, Ragga Twins, Rachel Wallace and Shades of Rhythm. Electric Brixton exceeded expectations by playing host to an event that not only managed to capture the feel of the original club nights of Dalston Lane but also brought together many of the original Four Aces party crowd. A highlight of the night was seeing Labrynth promoter Joe Wiezcorek brought on stage to rapturous cheers and support. With Labrynth hosting a hotel at next years Unity In The Sun the future looks bright.
The Rave Generation website and community has now been up and running for 18 months and owes a lot to the support of the artists and promoters that have have been so generous with their time. Particular mentions should go out to Mark Archer who supported us in the very humble beginnings of the site (thanks so much – without that early support I can’t say that the site would have persevered), Jay Folly for his generosity from the very start (I’ve always appreciated your support and look forward to Lazy Sunday 2019), Eamon Downes and Christopher Howell for tolerating untold levels of nonsense via Whatsapp (I respect you more now than ever despite not being able to separate you from Freddie Mercury’s moustache), as well as Vibes and Hattrixx for putting up with my constant positive feedback for “It’s About Time” (seriously though, release more copies, its brilliant).
So what’s next for The Rave Generation? 2019 has a lot of unfinished business in store. The last few months have seen a bit of a slow down in activity for the site but the first three months of 2019 will see book reviews by DJ Rap, Chris Howell, Suddi Raval, Ian Snowball and Goldie as well as full interviews with Eamon “Liquid” Downes, Junior Tomlin, DJ Nipper and more yet to be confirmed. There are also plans in the pipeline to feature and review a selection of both intimate and larger-scale events as well as introduce a number of The Rave Generation meet-ups across the country.