The article below dates from late 1990. Following Flying`s Summer trip to Ibiza. Around the beginnings of the “Balearic Network” that holiday initiated. Interviewed by John Godfrey for The Face, Charlie Chester talks about keeping an open mind. The importance of being spontaneous. And championing European Dance Music, when US sounds dominated “Underground” airwaves. The tunes I can recall from parties at The Soho Theatre Club, and those featured in Flying`s weekly newsletters, reflected this “open-minded” eclecticism. Music from Italy, Germany and Spain mixed with sides from Detroit, Chicago and New York. Geography didn’t come into it. There were no distinctions between House and Techno. Raps were dodgy. Pitched up lifts from James Brown`s Funky Drummer, ubiquitous. Pop? All that mattered was that a track had the required energy.
Coming from The Yellow Book, Flying was a bit Rave-y. The Yellow Book, held on a Friday at The Rock Garden (in Covent Garden), seemed to be a testing ground for then fashionable slower sounds and Boys` Own Productions. The work of Weatherall, Farley, Rocky and Diesel. Chugging around with indie band in-crowders and NME journalists to That Petrol Emotion, Soup Dragons, Saint Etienne, The Farm, and Foxy Brown. At Flying, the Trance sirens of KLF`s What Time Is Love? might greet you as you walked through the door. Steve Bicknell`s relentless break-beat bashing, honking, Gonzo. A Homeboy, A Hippie & A Funki Dred`s sonic collage of Renegade Soundwave, Africa Bambaataa, the Apache break, and Bleep. But once I`d necked up and was out centre stage, lost in a sea of grinning (gurning?) faces, it didn’t matter. As I said last time, Flying – most definitely – wasn`t about being cool. We are all fools. Might as well be a dancing fool.
The shop of course looked after its friends. Pushed white labels. People`s first efforts. Ariel`s Sea Of Beats. Cola Boy`s 7 Ways 2 Love. Deep Joy`s Fall. Fabi Paras` Sound Clash Republic. Jagz` La Camorra. One Dove`s Fallen. Sensurround`s Blind Faith. Slam`s Eterna. Countless other one offs. Their creation fuelled by the enthusiasm of the times. They stocked spars` imprints like Boys` Own, Simon Dumore`s Cooltempo, Tam Tam. 12”s by Less Stress. Monie Love. Paradiso`s Here We Go Again. Underworld`s Mmm…Skyscraper. Unlimited Pleasure`s camp Supermax cover. Voices Of Africa`s Jasper Van`t Hof overhaul. Their own Volante, then Cowboy Records. Tyrrel Corporation. Audio Deluxe`s Sixty Seconds. The Aloof`s Never Get Out Of The Boat. Dean`s remixes of Ian Dury, Kiss AMC, and This Ragged Jack.
Some of the music hasn`t dated so well. Back then all you needed to make a record was a sampler / studio time paid for with money made serving up, and a mate of a mate who`d had a few piano lessons. Some of that Italian stuff goes for top dollar, mind. ASHA`s J.J. Tribute. Mr Luthero`s Rotation. Like a lot of things, I sold my copy when I discovered the Herb Alpert original. We are more sophisticated these days. Digging the world over for “sick jams”. But we`ve lost some of the abandon.
I do struggle with this music. Since it holds so many memories. I pull the records off their shelves to make these mixes, but I don`t think I could play any of them to a paying audience. I`m not convinced that they`d make sense out of context. Out of time. I once had a dark night of the “Balearic” Soul. When I hired the legendary Tokyo club Loop. Signatures from FK, Danny Krivit, the Idjut Boys, Harvey, etc., etc., decorating the walls. I gave myself the end-of-the-night slot. Lost my faith when I cleared the dance floor with Dizzi Heights` Would I Find Love? The experience has made me think more than twice about playing old Balearic Beats to a young crowd that has no nostalgia attached to them. A crowd that very likely has never taken an E. Is it a good record? Sometimes I just don`t know. Impossible for me to ignore its history.
I remember Weatherall mixing James` Come Home into Madonna`s Vogue. Playing The End`s Ecstasy Express. Pre Scruton Street Axis. Pre Bloodsugar. Pre Sabresonic. Back when Andrew still rode the cross fader. His remixes chopped about in the same ecstatic manner. Flying`s clientele worshiped Weatherall. There`d be queues around the block. Guest-list nods essential to avoid disappointment. Santa Esmeralda`s Don`t Let Me Be Misunderstood was a Scott Braithwaite tune. Everyone clapping along. Its Flamenco Disco found my dance floor skills wanting, so I`d usually take a beer break. It brings me close to tears now. Elicits a big smile for sure (I don`t think Scott ever played the whole 16 minutes, but again skills wise I’m found lacking). LUPO`s Hell Or Heaven conjures images of illicit assignations with mediterranean dominatrices. Secrets blown by photos in Boys` Own. Alison Limerick would have the whole club singing. Every word. Pointing accusing fingers. Miming to the line, “Don`t reach out for me with an apology”. Secchi`s I Say Yeah summed up the general mood of yes-to-everything excess. Sex and drugs. Bob Jones revived Terry Callier`s I Don`t Want To See Myself . The surprise Soul hit of Ibiza 90. A Gospel belted out for the love I lost. Twenty five odd years later, Ce Ce Rogers` All Join Hands is naiver, sadder. House music never offered any solutions save Love. Equality still a fallacy. News dominated by religious division and white supremacist rallies. 6 AM missile warnings echoing 1962`s October crisis. Continuing conflict despite all these means of communication we have at our command.
Later Flying itself divided. With the “Network” birthing the arguably dumbed-down dance of Progressive House and Big Beat. The more Soulful heads focussing back on America. Agape Sounds` Your Love Never Fails. Candy J`s Let`s Get Together. Extortion`s How Do You See Me Now. MK`s Burning. Ultranate`s Deeper Love. Urban Soul`s Alright. Michael Watford`s Holding On. Robert Owens` I`ll Be Your Friend. The doorman, Ali, started doing Classics Nights. Revisiting The Nightwriters, Charles B and Ten City. People would be crying. Screaming. Begging for one more.
A big big thank you to Martin Wason for the scans.
Ce Ce Rogers – All Join Hands
Loco Mia – Rumba Samba Mambo
Nitelife Cityrama – Running So Hard
Cola Boy – 7 Ways 2 Love
Coco, Steel & Lovebomb – Feel It
A Homeboy, A Hippie & A Funki Dred – Total Confusion
MK – Decay
Rap Delight – Back Again
49th Floor – Night Passage
Madonna – Vogue
Nomad – Devotion
Alison Limerick – Where Love Lives
Secchi – I Say Yeah
LUPO – Hell Or Heaven
Johnny Parker – Love It
Unlimited Pleasure – Love Machine
James – Come Home
Santa Esmeralda – Don`t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Terry Callier – I Don`t Want To See Myself