I’ve been waiting all week for a big box of records to arrive. It turns out it’s pretty important to have records to listen to if you want to actually review them: 30 second samples on Juno aren’t enough, it seems. That’s life.
It turns out I needn’t have worried. I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last month or so trawling through my collection, You Tube and the recollections of other sad old House-heads to prove a point to myself that I can no longer even remember. I had meant to do a regular series of posts like this since I started the blog, but always held off because it’s too easy to fall into the nostalgia trap. In a sense I feel like one of those boring old rockers, greying hair tied back into an appalling pony-tail, adamant that ‘Smoke On The Water’ was the best record of all time and determined to believe that there has been no good music released since 1971. The problem is compounded by the very nature of House and Techno – forward momentum has always been part of the ethos and looking backwards frowned upon, which is exactly as it should be with a form of music that could not possibly have existed until only a handful of decades ago.
But over the last couple of years the number of releases harking back to a barely remembered ‘Golden Age’ has continued to grow. There have been homages to Acid House so perfect in their replication of a sound that came into being through necessity, innovation and the technology on hand that they are all but indistinguishable – except for the fact that they are cleaner, somehow more hollow: like reproductions for a particularly dull museum. There has been a surge of the misnamed ‘Jacking House’ genre that seems to be beloved by people who would wet themselves in terror if a DJ played a proper, full on Jack track, And there is a sense of the forward momentum petering out, of an astounding musical explosion growing cold as the shock-waves settle and die.
Well, balls to that. Instead of casting backward glances and failing to see the possibilities, lets raid the past for the things that mattered: attitude and exhilaration rather than postures and clothes. And lets start off this occasional series (It’ll be on Saturday if I’m drunk,) with one of the best: Green Velvet’s ass kicking Preacher Man.
Released nearly 20 years ago now, it doesn’t sound like it’s aged at all. That legendary sample of Aretha Franklin’s father, real life preacher C.L, going mental over the most primal and playful of beats remains as potent and dance floor destroying as it ever did, the bass and synths stabs and chimes growing harder and harder as CL gets more and more furious, more and more righteous..and by the time the percussion kicks into life a couple of minutes in it’s got you just where it wants you. It’s a terrifying, loose limbed beast of a tune that our familiarity, like the devil with C.L, has no power over. This wasn’t Chicago House we had ever heard before – hell, this wasn’t Chicago House: This is Chicago Techno in all it’s romping, crazed glory. This is what a Jack track sounds like. Goddamn Hallelujah!
Next time one of those dainty bearded, skinny jeans wearing house producers sits down in front of Ableton to cook up a limp version of Acid House or whatever current genre is trending, I want them to remember one thing, one lesson of genuine wisdom that C.L himself gives up in the opening seconds of ‘Preacherman’ – “Now, You have to watch out when Folks are playing House.” Wise words. Lets try and live by them.