It’s pitch black and raining hard outside my window. Not so much the season of goodwill as the season of the sodium glare and tired, haggard shoppers trudging in endless circles looking for more shiny tat to while away the long, dark days with. Occasionally they stumble past with a cold, damp looking tree stuck awkwardly over their shoulder, dragging it homeward so they can enjoy the sight of it turning yellow, drying out and dying over the course of the next few weeks. Ho Ho Ho.
A greater brain than mine might lock themselves away with nothing but one of the top ten drone records of 2014 for company, and remain in hibernation until the sun begins to rise again in March or April, but that sounds like too much work to me. I’ve never gotten drone, or any of the weird goth-techno cross breeds that have proliferated over the last year or so. Not my thing, I guess. And as the shadows grow I find myself looking even less towards the ‘difficult’ end of the spectrum.
Since I started doing these Friday Night Tune things I’ve attempted to cover a cross-section of various styles and tried hard from being too obvious with them. I hope that they’ve all been enjoyable examples of house and techno, and I hope that some of them fell on fresh ears, educating as much as they have entertained. But, seeing as it’s Christmas time, and thinking that we could all do with a nice serotonin boost, for the next few weeks I’m simply going to bosh out some tunes that I like for no other reason that they make me happy when I hear them. You’ve probably heard them before – maybe you haven’t, in which case I hope you love them – but the aim for just now is simply to chase away the winter blues.
So, with that in mind here is one of my very favourite bangers of all time. 420 Low by Eddie ‘Flashin’ Fowlkes is one of those tunes that seems to have been of a bit of a Glasgow (and Paisley) speciality, along side certain UR tracks and some of Kevin Saunderson’s E-Dancer output. I don’t know who published it originally, or exactly when. My copy of it comes on the first volume of a compilation put out by T+B Records of tunes that were big in Edinburgh’s legendary Pure, but it’s turned up elsewhere over the years, including a fairly well-known Tresor compilation.
None of that is important though. What matters are the five and a bit minutes of full on mental that Fowlkes’ delivers. He sets up the launchpad somewhere between rave, acid and techno, stands back and lets one of the most insane riffs in the history of music take us into space. It’s a furious, molten piece of serious party music. From those portentous chords at the start, followed by that oscillating, three-minute warning styled synth it gets a grip of the body and just will not quit.
Like Blake Baxter, Fowlkes was one of the original Detroit movers who seems to have been airbrushed out of the official histories. That’s a real travesty because, as with Baxter, his music was every bit as exciting as anything the big three were putting out. The infectious energy of his work, his early blending of a harder techno edge with a more Chicago inspired nous and a profound understanding of what makes a person want to lose their shit on the dancefloor all come together to make Fowlkes music – and this tune in particular – such utter fun.
I’m not going to say any more. Just listen to it and pretend it’s summer.