The title of yesterday’s musical round-up – Funky Alternatives – was a very affectionate nod to this LP. Thirty-odd years ago compilations were my way into music, and this one, personally, was pretty key. Right up there with Balearic Beats Vol. 1, Ethno Beats: Rhythms… From The Jungle And The Desert To The Dance Floor…, and House Hallucinates. Funky Alternatives Volume 1 is a collection of danceable Industrial and post-punk electronic grooves put together by Andrew Beer and Tony Thorpe – AKA 400 Blows. Released on their label, Concrete Productions, in 1986, I first saw a copy in `87. I was still at Uni in Leeds.
One of my house-mates had landed a summer job as a photographer`s assistant somewhere in Kent, so a group of us – chaps and chapesses – drove down for the weekend. I think someone was sorting the photographer out with a weight of weed. Big bloke he was, a bit posh, and pretty highly strung. We spent the afternoon in the garden of a cider house, in the sun, and then it was all back to his. Beer and joint in hand, while others partnered-up, I took a gander at the guy`s record collection. The two things I remember seeing were The Jamms` 1987 What The Fuck`s Going On? and Funky Alternatives Volume 1. It didn’t mean anything to me then, but the cover image got snapped and stored in my head. I have a photographic memory for record sleeves – a talent which unfortunately doesn’t seem to translate to anything more useful.
Once he was stoned the photographer asked if anyone wanted any music on, and Steg* said, “Have you got any Doors?” – at which point the photographer flipped. “Doors?! Doors?! I`ll give you Doors!” and he was off running, charging through the house opening and slamming cupboards and cabinets. It was a lot like that Fast Show sketch – the one with the depressed painter – where one minute its all rainbows and then suddenly everything is black, black, black. Right spoiled the buzz I can tell you.
Jump to 1991 and me and Jo are hanging at Harvey and Heidi`s party, Moist, in Covent Garden. Moist was a school night and we only went once – solely because Weatherall was playing. We were drinking with a DJ – one of those behind London’s 90s disco revival – and his mate, who I think was a lawyer. They’d come straight from the Odeon Marble Arch, where they’d dropped acid to watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day. They were both freaking out about how amazing it was – but I was there on a mission of my own, and when Andrew finished spinning I cornered him. I wanted to learn more about Chris & Cosey. Croydon`s only “alternative” store, H.R. Cloakes, had managed to order me a 12” copy of Exotica. But other than that my search had proved in vain. What records did I need? Where was the best place to find them? The reply was “Everything. The new one (Pagan Tango) is a good place to start” and “Sister Ray”.
I picked up Funky Alternatives Volume 1 on that first trip to Berwick Street, and Sister Ray became a regular “spot”. One of the stop-offs on an “uptown” shopping route / loop that’d take in Black Market, Daddy Kool, Flying, Quaff, Phuture, Reckless, and Trax. Most of the stuff I bought from Sister Ray was kinda Chris & Cosey-related – Throbbing Gristle`s Heathen Earth, Psychic TV, Coil, and Cabaret Voltaire. All of it was darker in hue – Effective Force`s Diamond Bullet, In The Nursery’s To Cure The Soul By Means Of The Senses, Ministry’s Twitch, Tackhead`s Class Rock…
Funky Alternatives #1 brought together a fair few musical clues – Nocturnal Emissions, New Order, Cultural Thugs, and Colourbox. The back of the jacket bearing a James Brown quote: Brothers can be brothers in spirit other than brothers in colour. We proved that soul is everybody”. In turn it lead to more DAF** and 23 Skidoo. It, of course, also contains Chris & Cosey`s October Love Song. A tune tightly tied to Andrew`s ”career”. But I didn’t know the Chapel Street / Skater Bobby / Danny Rampling story back then***.
*Steg is short for Stegosaurus – which is how agile my friend was when he was high.
**José Gabriel Delgado López rest in peace.
*** Does anyone know if the `86 version featured on this comp is the version that landed Andrew the Shoom gig, DJing down on the farm?