Words & selections by Balearic Mike.
Cover Image care of Greg Wilson`s Electrofunkroots.
For Stu Allan…
Model 500 – The Sound Of Stereo / Off To Battle / Electric Entourage – Metroplex Records 1987
I woke up this morning, knowing I had one of my regular cancer check-ups scheduled today, only to hear the horrible news that Stu Allan had died after his own battle with cancer, at the age of only 60. I can’t overstate how much of a huge influence Stu Allan was on my generation of music lovers and soon to be acid house devotees. As a teenager at high school in Warrington, and already a music obsessive, I had started to look further afield, and was developing a taste for this exciting new dance music coming from America. First electro and hip-hop, and then house. I was an avid reader of magazines like The Face and ID, so would see reviews of these new records, which sounded amazing, but hearing them anywhere in a dull new-town in the North West of England was well-nigh impossible – until a classmate mentioned that his older brother was also into house music and was listening to a radio show which played house and hip-hop. The show was Stu Allan’s now legendary Bus’ Diss, broadcast every Sunday on Manchester’s commercial station Key 103. Luckily for me, this could be picked up as far away as Liverpool. I started listening sometime in the autumn of 1986, and tuned in religiously every Sunday until I left the North for art college in Brighton in September `88.
At first, while still at school, I’d tape it with my headphones on so that my mum didn’t know I was still awake. Two hours of hip-hop, two of house music, and an hour of street-soul. I still recall one of my favourite tapes was the week that this record was #1 in the Spin Inn house chart. Stu Played Off To Battle rather than the A-side, and I was completely transfixed by it. I played it endlessly for a couple of weeks before caving and deciding to visit this mythical Spin Inn Disc centre to buy a copy the following Saturday morning.
I`d recently started my first job as a glass collector at Legends in Warrington – years before it became famous – so had some disposable income for the first time, but my jaw did drop when I was told how much the US import 12” single cost. It was more than an LP at the time, at about £5.49. I thought about it for probably 30 seconds, and then handed over my money. Maybe that was the point when there was “no way back” for me? I could write a fair-sized thesis on the fantastic Juan Atkins record, and its impact on music, long before the term techno was being used to describe these incredible records coming out of Detroit, as well as Chicago, but that’s for another post. Thanks for changing my life, Stu.
Another for Stu Allan… I dug this record out again a while back, as I thought I might write a piece about it in December, when it’ll be celebrating it’s 35th anniversary, but now seems appropriate.
DMC December 87 Mixes 2 – House 87 / Hip Hop 87 (Cold Medina) – DMC 1987
After discovering Stu Allan’s Bus’ Diss radio show on Key 103 late in 1986, it had been a complete life changer. On one of his shows before that Christmas I remember he played both of these DMC mixes in each part of his show. For those that don’t know, DMC, or Disco Mix Club, was a subscription service for professional DJs. Each month you paid your subs and received a set of exclusive records. Some had medleys or mega-mixes, often aimed at more commercial DJs, and other times there would be exclusive remixes of individual tracks. These particular mega-mixes, however, were aimed firmly at the underground, and the tape of this show became one that I was asked to copy many, many times, and eventually wore out. Just look at the track list on the hip-hop one! What a year for music. The track list on the house one is just as good, although I recall it caused a good deal of controversy at the time.
The hip hop mix went down a storm. The house mix though, came in for quite a bit of criticism. Mostly due to the lack of Phuture`s Acid Trax, and Rhythim is Rhythim`s Strings Of Life. These do seem like incredible omissions now. Anyway, I found this copy years later, really cheap, and just had to hear it again. Thanks for the music, Stu.
When you come back from your holiday in Spain with a Balearic classic ringing in your ears…
Jeanette – Porque Te Vas – Hispavox / Polydor 1974/76
Balearic Wife and I went to Malaga for a few days to celebrate my 52nd birthday the other week. It`s a beautiful city that I’d never thought to visit before, but I’m very glad I did. The guide book we had recommended a tapas bar called La Tranca, which unlike many, was open all afternoon. On the Tuesday we were feeling a little peckish, so thought we`d try it out. It was described as ‘bustling’, but we weren’t quite prepared for what we found.
The tiny, narrow bar was heaving with people aged from 18 to 80 years old. The wall behind the bar was covered in LP covers, all Spanish artists, and a soundtrack of Spanish pop music was blasting out. Everyone in the bar was having an amazing time – drinking, eating, and singing along, and sometimes, dancing to this music, including the staff. It was glorious chaos. This was 2 PM on a Tuesday afternoon, but the scene was more reminiscent of Manchester’s legendary ‘Nado on a Sunday night at Arch Bar! At some point this fabulous record came on, and the crowd in the bar erupted into song and dance!
I can’t recall now how this track came to be in my collection, but I’m pretty sure it was a Phil Mison or Moonboots recommendation. Porque Te Vas (“Because you are leaving”) was a massive Spanish pop hit, originally released in 1974. Its huge success led to its inclusion in the film ‘Cria Cuervos”, making it a hit across Europe in 1976. It’s a gorgeous song, with Jeanette’s high pitched and sugar-sweet vocal being propelled along by a glorious funk track. Rock solid drums and killer percussion, including one of the best hi-hat hits ever recorded, is joined by a rubbery, McCartney-esque bass-line, rhythm guitars and some great brass work, including a deep, farting baritone saxophone. It’s 3:21 of Balearic pop perfection. Great holiday too.
“Memories, … hunting records on mushrooms, memories ….”
Amadeo – Memories (from the LP Real Magic) – Able 1978
The excitement caused by Harvey’s Sarcastic Study Masters Volume 2 mix, when it began being shared around the small Balearic and disco obsessed community, was huge. I was lucky enough to already have some of the records on the mix, and I recall that Nick The Record was hugely helpful in filling in a few of the blanks. Sometimes you could just put what you thought the song title might be into gemm.com – remember that folks? – and get lucky. But not the track called Memories, or for that matter Can’t Be Serious – but that’s for another day. Then one Saturday night, Moonboots and a couple of friends were at my house in Old Trafford. It was early evening, and I’d bought one of those bug punnets of ‘special’ mushrooms from the head shop over the road from Vinyl Exchange on my way home from work. You know, the big gnarly ones with blue psylocibin oozing out of them. We’d just divided them up and taken them, and Moon and I were sat at my PC scouring gemm.com, when our phones both pinged at the same time. It was Jan Hammered. The message just said “Memories!” We looked at each other, and without exchanging words I was calling a taxi and we were off to Jan`s house in Stretford. All the while things were becoming stranger and funnier by the second.
By the time we arrived at his pretty little street, we were both quite deranged, and giggling like tits. I asked the driver to wait for us so he could take us straight back, then ran down the narrow, cobbled path between the houses and up to Jan’s door, knocking loudly. Jan answered with the LP in his hand, and without saying anything handed it to first Moon, and then me. “Is this it?” was all we could manage to say. Jan nodded. We handed the record back to him and ran back to the taxi, and straight back to mine, where we had of course, left gemm.com open and ready. Jan had been buying records from an Italian dealer who had lots of Cosmic records for sale, and had the clever idea of sending him sound clips of some of the records that we didn’t know, but were chasing. The dealer had obviously been a clubber at both Baia Degli Angeli and Cosmic, and I think Baldelli – or Mozart – had played this track at Baia. It seems perfect for that sort of glamourous venue, built for the jet set on the Italian riviera, but overtaken by crazy, music, and drug-obsessed Italian kids who wanted to dance all night under the stars.
Needless to say, Moon and I both had copies quite soon after that, and I went on to hoover up a fair few cheap copies before the word spread – selling them on either privately or sometimes through the shop. The track is of course, incredible. A rock hard slo-mo sleazy disco groove which sits somewhere between Love Unlimited Orchestra and hip-hop, with crazy synth parts over the top, and a wonderfully camp vocal which plays up to the jet set audience it’s so obviously meant for. I don’t know much about Amadeo Barrios, except he was born in the Philippines, and moved to New York as a teenager, becoming a singer, producer and choreographer, but thank you, Amadeo, for the memories …
That DMC House 87 mega-mix, and a Facebook post by Adrian LuvDup, also about the passing of Stu Allan, reminded me of this total banger from that same year…
BAM BOO – BAM BOO – Fourth Floor Records 1987
My news feed on Friday was just an endless stream of people paying their respects to Stu Allan, and amongst them was Ade LuvDup, who thanked him for playing this totally wonderful record, and while writing the post about the DMC House 87 mega-mix, I was of course listening to both sides on a loop for an hour or so, and it just jumped out of the mix at me. A totally ecstatic, joyous, and incredibly simple piece of house music from New Yorkers Lenny D (before he went hardcore – you know the score) and Tommy Musto, the same duo who would go on to make another of my favourite house records a few years later, Fallout`s The Morning After.
Bam Boo was a massive record across the North West that year, with enough buzz on it to force a UK release, albeit under Lenny and Tommy’s real names, and with a slightly altered title. The Dub is probably the one for me, but only just, and I just love singing “BAM BOO!” in a really deep voice, along to the record. I originally had a UK 12 but bought this US copy really cheap while at Vinyl Exchange. It had obviously sold absolutely shit loads in Manchester on import at the time, and so was a common as muck second-hand in the early `90s. It’s still as cheap as chips now, even for this US pressing. Starts at 0.44p on Discogs, and there are copies in the UK for £1.99. Go on, treat yourself! It’s 35 years old and still sounds fresh!
Happy weekend kids, and remember, say no to drugs, and yes to one house nation under a groove!
You can also check out the super silk screen prints of “Balearic Wife” over at @jo_lambert_print – personally I think they’d make damn fine record sleeves / disco bags.