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ELECTRIC CHAIR LAST SUPPER 29.12.07 (greg wilson live selection)

gregwilson on December 29, 2011 12:00

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    This Sunday (New Years Day 2011) the Living To Music selection is the self-titled debut album by The Stone Roses. This reminded me of the one and only time I’ve played the LP’s opening track, ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ in a club. I wrote:

    “In Dec 07 I was the final DJ, bar the residents, to play at Manchester’s now fabled Electric Chair – one of the city’s most important club nights in recent memory. I wanted to finish off with a track that truly summoned up the spirit of Manchester, and settled on ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ – an ethereal anthem from an era that placed the city at the forefront of popular culture. Whilst ‘Fools Gold’ is obviously the Roses track most geared to the dancefloor (and the one I'd later feature in my Essential Mix), ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ evoked the unity evident in that E’d up epoch, subsequently echoing through to the Electric Chair and still dearly cherished by those who experienced it first hand, whilst becoming a source of continued fascination for those who didn’t.”

    Full blog post here:

    I talk about the Electric Chair, and its legacy, in greater detail in the blog post ‘Manchester Vibes In The Area’:

    The aforementioned Electric Chair event, the ‘Last Supper’ as they called it, featured a whole host of previous guests, all playing for half an hour each. As I mentioned, I was the final guest to appear and, given the significance of the occasion, I wanted my selections to be symbolic of the city’s club heritage, linking back to the underground days of the early 80’s, when I was at Legend (and, just prior to my retirement as a DJ, The Haçienda). The 5 tracks I decided on consisted of a trio of classic home-grown tunes from the height of the Madchester era, along with a couple more tracks, one from New York and one from Italy, which had originally been associated with Legend, but would later gain a secondary association as massive oldies played at The Haçienda later in the decade.

    Having had to rush across town from a previously arranged booking (as fate would have it, a Haçienda revival night at Sankey’s Soap), in time to make my 4.30am slot, it wasn’t possible for me to set up all my equipment at the Chair, so this was one of the rare occasions when I’ve played from CD. Aware of this ahead of the gig, and knowing that the time frame only enabled me to play a handful of tracks, in preparation I did some editing and overdubbing on the tunes I’d selected, the first of which, 808 State’s ‘Pacific State’, would prove to be particularly inspirational for me a little over 12 months later, as this was where I first used the Jesse Jackson ‘Wattstax’ invocation, which would play such a pivotal role in my Essential Mix , where it features in both the opening track, DFP’s edit of ‘Down To Love Town’ and the concluding one, which is, of course, my ‘Electric Chair Edit’ of ‘Pacific State’.

    I uploaded it earlier this year, so you can get the full lowdown / download here
    808 State 'Pacific State' (greg wilson electric chair edit) by gregwilson
    Here’s the link to the Essential Mix:
    ESSENTIAL MIX (by greg wilson for bbc radio 1 2009) by gregwilson

    The ‘Last Supper’ selection continues with Hashim’s ‘Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)’, now an acknowledged Electro classic, but originally a tune that had first blown-up big time on my Wednesday nights at Legend, when I started playing it as an import on a brand new NYC label, Cutting Records, which, as the decade unfolded would bridge Electro and House, not least with the cult anthem, ‘Let’s Get Brutal’ / ‘This Brutal House’ by Nitro Deluxe, a clear hybrid of these styles. I’d later include ‘Al-Naafiysh’ as one of 12 era defining choices on ‘Classic Electro Mastercuts’, which I compiled in 1994:

    Hearing ‘Al-Naafiysh’ played at The Haçienda’ at the height of the Rave period always brought a smile to my face, as I was the first DJ to play it there, back in 1983 when the clubs regular indie / student type customers, who were pretty hostile to the ‘dance shit’ I was known for, and which was packing the floor at Legend and Wigan Pier, where I worked with a predominantly black audience. The Haçienda was slow off the mark, but when it finally got there a few years down the line, it really got there with a vengeance, so to see this track ecstatically embraced as a classic 5/6 years on was, for me, a respectful nod back to what had gone before. Only problem being that the Acid House / Rave explosion was generally being reported as something new, with way too many writers totally unaware that what was happening at The Haçienda linked directly back to the Electro era, and before. The influence of the underground black scene was, as a consequence, pretty much whitewashed out of the story, whilst the romance of the Ibiza myth was increasingly cited as the inspiration behind what was happening in the rainy city, and neighbouring House music hotbeds, like Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leeds, previously Jazz-Funk / Electro-Funk strongholds.

    The third track here is a perfect illustration of this. Klein & MBO’s ‘Dirty Talk’ would appear as the opening track on the 1997 compilation ‘Viva Haçienda – 15 Years Of The Haçienda’. Described as a ‘certified Haçienda classic’, the sleevenotes would state “released pre-house, this Italian electro-disco curio only really made sense after the Chicago invasion”. This obviously wound me up something rotten, for, in reality, whilst it might have become a Haçienda classic a few years down the line, it had originally been one the biggest tunes of ‘82 bar none at Legend, featuring in my ‘Best Of ‘82’ mix on Piccadilly Radio. Rather than not really making sense pre-House, this was a track that made perfect sense to the black crowd long before Chicago began to make its impact in the mid-80’s. The reason it took off at The Haçienda in the first place was due to its popularity on the black scene in Manchester.

    When The Haçienda ‘s original resident, Hewan Clarke, played it there one night, New Order, who co-owned the club, asked him if they could borrow it as a reference for a track that they were working on in the studio at the time, which turned out to be one of the defining releases of the 80’s – ‘Blue Monday’.

    I’ll always be grateful to Harry Taylor at Spin Inn for putting me on to ‘Dirty Talk’ – I wrote about it in my 12x12 Wax Poetics selection:

    The version I include here is the one I used to play at Legend and Wigan Pier, the instrumental ‘USA Connection’. The following summer Flexx Records in Belgium approached me to put together an official edit of the track, which they’d licensed. This was issued on 12” in Sept ’08, and this would subsequently appear as one of the selections on my ‘Credit To The Edit Vol 2’ compilation in 2009.

    The penultimate inclusion is the Paul Oakenfold mix of ‘WFL’ by the Happy Mondays (in the Essential Mix I went for the Vince Clarke version). Again, from my Wax Poetics 12x12 piece, here’s what I wrote about it:

    “Following the introduction of the drug ecstasy to the city (the legend has it that Mondays dancer, Bez, was the catalyst), an ever increasing number of white kids turned on to the dance grooves previously associated with the black scene. The underground was about to go mainstream, and Manchester (or ‘Madchester’ as it would be temporarily re-named) was right at the cusp of things.

    The Happy Mondays had anticipated this with the release of their 1988 single “Wrote For Luck”, an addictive downtempo groover and the key track in their memorable live sets of the period, which echoed back to the Punk-Funk ethos of an earlier time. They chose my old club, Legend, to record the video, which had a theme of a children’s party, with a multi-racial audience, which seemed to sum up the cultural melting pot that had been stirring in the city for a number of years.

    “WFL” was “Wrote For Luck” remixed…and how! Not one, but two brilliant remixes back to back courtesy of Vince Clarke (then Erasure, formerly Depeche Mode and Yazoo) and Paul Oakenfold (assisted by Terry Farley) working alongside programmer / engineer Steve Osborne. The Oakenfold / Osbourne combination would go on to produce the bands most commercially successful releases.

    I’ll never forget the first time I saw the video to “WFL” (which used the Vince Clarke mix). Once again it was shot in Legend, but this time the children had been replaced by a club full of what were now termed ‘ravers’. A brilliant visual representation of those early ‘E’ days, perfectly capturing the time and the vibe, this video obviously made a deep impression on me. Seeing the same dancefloor that had been packed with black kids on my nights earlier in the decade, now full of white kids, was hugely symbolic of the way youth culture in this country was changing.”

    Then, finally, it’s ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, which, on the night, very much had the desired effect, generating a tingling of emotion throughout the audience, especially, as I mentioned, the old school contingent who, hands aloft on the dancefloor, felt the intensity of those first time around feelings come flooding back for a few precious minutes.

    Highlighting the lineage between past and present, my hope was that this short mix would provide was a fitting personal homage to not only the Electric Chair, but to The Haçienda before it, and Legend before that.

    Greg Wilson – December 2011


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