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The Bassheads ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ (greg wilson edit)
Never previously shared.
‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ was one of the all-time Rave classics. It was particularly interesting for me to witness its runaway success given that I knew its creators, Desa and Nick Murphy, who lived on the Wirral. Desa used to come to some of the local clubs I deejayed at as far back as 1977, before he started out as a club DJ himself (he remembered me switching between the Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes and Thelma Houston versions of ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ at the Golden Guinea in New Brighton), whilst I’d done some recording with Nick, who had a home studio, a few years before The Bassheads formed.
The name, The Bassheads, had come from The Bassment, a night Desa started in Birkenhead in 1988 (in a room where I’d deejayed myself 12 years previous, when the club opened as The Deerstalker). Initially pressing up their own white labels, The Bassheads blew up big time with ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ – exactly the right tune at the right time. They worked on the track with Shaun Imre, who I also knew from my time living in London during the late 80’s, which took its title from the Pink Floyd recording it sampled, whilst other well-known acts sampled included Talking Heads, The Osmonds and Afrika Bambaataa. Having seen me use mine, Desa bought himself a Revox B77 reel-to-reel, utilizing it in fine style to help bring his ideas to life (as fate would have it, I bought this very machine from Desa a few years back, and it’s one of two I currently rotate for my DJ appearances).
Having been huge on white label during 1991, DeConstruction Records signed 'Is There Anybody Out There?' up and scored a top 5 hit before the end of the year. Prior to issuing the single they had to remove the Floyd sample though, and although the overall track still sounded brilliant and was now somewhat cleaner (Bam was still there, and the other key samples had been replayed to great effect), it was a shame the Floyd was missing for all those who knew the original.
Moving forward to 2009 and I thought it’d be the perfect track to kick off with at the Big Chill Festival, opening up with the atmospheric Floyd ambience. I dug around for the white label 12”, but couldn’t find it, so I got in touch with Desa to ask if he could burn me off a copy. His turntable was broken, so he was unable to do this in time, so he sent me a wav of the DeCon mix instead. I decided to see if I could re-create the original intro myself, so I pulled out my CD of ‘The Wall’ and set about reconstructing the beginning of the DeConstruction version. However, unlike the original, I also added the acoustic guitar section, which provides a great mellow prelude before the in-your-face ‘Crazy Horses’ guitar enters. Suffice to say that it worked a treat at the Big Chill and brought the house down.
I subsequently went back to it and did some further tinkering, most notably extending the aforementioned acoustic guitar section, whilst doubling the length of the euphoric piano breakdown, and building the tension before Bambaataa’s rap to add extra impact.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of this bona fide dancefloor anthem, so it presents the perfect moment to make this edit public as we move deeper into the summer months, whilst acknowledging how Desa, Nick and Shaun stamped their indelible mark on Rave culture.
Greg Wilson – June 2011