Monday, 23 January 2012
A very nice interview with danish elektro icons Laid Back at the ever-excellent German site Electronic Beats. Stay tuned for our very own exclusive Q & A with the White Horse legends coming very soon!
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Vicious Pink are a great example of a band that should have been huge but didn't quite break through despite a large underground and club following (in Europe and North America) and a very strong look.
Starting life as Vicious Pink Phenomenon in Leeds, England, they were originally elektro megastars Soft Cell's backing singers (they can be seen on the SC live performance below) who then went solo producing a string of club hits that never made the higher echelons of the pop charts. Their biggest hit Cccan't You See (featured on Elektro Diskow) only made no. 67 in the UK charts in 1984 but was a club favourite the world over. With their S&M overtones and almost industrial Fairlight-driven sound, VP were big on the emerging EBM and Belgian New Beat scene. Their stripped-back single 8.15 to Nowhere was even re-released in Belgium in '88 as New Beat was exploding.
Friday, 6 January 2012
Continuing the theme from yesterday's Arthur Baker post, here's a fantastic period piece article from the NME in 1983 on New York's Funhouse club.
The Funhouse was very much John "Jellybean" Benitez's club in the same way that the Paradise Garage was Larry Levan's. It was here that he met and fell for a certain Madonna Louise Ciccone whose first album he would later produce (see pic above taken at the FH!).
It was also the centre of a hispanic/Italian breakdancing culture which helped nurture a new sound (coined by Arthur) electro boogie which Planet Rock launched.
The eclectic list of artists who played at the club includes James Brown (!), Run DMC, (Arthur Baker's) Rockers Revenge, and New Order.
Two Funhouse classics ...
Thursday, 5 January 2012
In the early 80s the culture of the producer/remixer truly exploded. Following on from the ground breaking work of the likes of Tom Moulton, Walter Gibbons and John Luongo in the 70s, labels and artists would go to the hottest underground DJs and producers to ensure their latest records would hit hard in the charts and the clubs.
New York was the epicentre of club culture in this period. Shep Pettibone who later would become the world's top remixer during the mid 80s eventually working with Madonna in the early 90s on Vogue and Erotica, started off putting together his groundbreaking mastermixes on Kiss FM. John "Jellybean" Benitez was a DJ at the legendary Funhouse club producing Madonna's early hits Borderline and Holiday who then became the go-to guy for dance mixes of pop hits (Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney's Say, Say, Say and Irene Cara's Flashdance to name but 2). Larry Levan was the king of the Paradise Garage (who we have previously profiled!)whose remixes of Grace Jones' Pull Up To the Bumper and Gwen Guthrie's Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent rocked clubs worldwide.
One its most innovative figures was Boston-born Arthur Baker. Arthur arrived in the Big Apple in 81 just as clubland was exploding. His first single Tee's Happy (recorded as Northend) was a smash in Manhattan and led to him working with Tommy Boy Records boss Tom Silverman on one of the landmark elektro releases, Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force's Planet Rock. This planet-shaking single fused the hip hop sound of the Bronx with the electronic melody and beats of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express to devastating effect. He followed this up with the dancefloor smash Walking On Sunshine as Rocker's Revenge - another global club classic.
New Order were so smitten with cutting edge New York dance culture that they not only imported the look and feel of the Funhouse, Danceteria, Roxy and Paradise Garage clubs back to the UK in the shape of Manchester's Hacienda, but they also teamed up with its top producer, Arthur Baker on 1983's Confusion. Indeed Confusion's video actually features NO visiting the Funhouse.
When Hall & Oates were looking to update their sound in 84, Arthur was the man they called to produce their album Big Bam Boom which featured the dance and pop hits Out Of Touch and Method Of Modern Love.
He was an in-demand remixer throughout the 80s with rock gods like Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac receiving Baker's magic dancefloor touch. He also produced the definitive mix of Pet Shop Boys' In The Night (featured on Disc 2 of Elektro Diskow and on their excellent Disco album) among many fine re-rubs during that period. His production work continued through the 90s and 00s as future generations discovered and re-discovered his vastly influential back catalogue.