Faith Fanzine / Winter 2022 / Chicago, Bam Bam, & The Clink

The new, winter, issue of Faith Fanzine goes on sale this week. Its theme is Chicago, the birthplace of house. My contribution, initially, was going to be an interview with Chicago native, Chris “Bam Bam” Westbrook, primarily about the production of his Second Summer Of Love hit, Wheres Your Child? However, when this failed to happen, our thoughts became focused, instead, on the song. Following the worldwide success of his previous smash, Give It To Me, Chris was hired to remix UK pop / dance act, The Shamen, for new “club” label, Desire, which was an offshoot of Fiction, the home of chart-topping groups like The Cure. This, in turn, lead to Chris licensing the imprint Wheres Your Child? Chris told me years ago that he created the track as part of a proposed score for Wes Craven`s Nightmare On Elm Street film franchise. Claiming that the 4 / 4 was only added just in case the movie studio knocked it back. Spun at pioneering London soirees, such as TRAX, Spectrum, Shoom, Pyramid, Hedonism, Delirium, and Confusion, it became one of the records that defined the rawer end of acid house.

The Shamen, Colin Angus and Will Sinnott, themselves, were huge house converts, and regulars at parties called Revolution in Progress, or RiP. Thrown by Paul Stone and Lu Vokovic – who were inspired not so much by “clubbing” but by the music itself, which they tuned into on Jazzy M`s pivotal pirate radio show, “The Jackin` Zone” – these were rough and ready, illegal “proto-raves”, held every Saturday from July through to the end of September, during the summer of `88, in an abandoned Thames-side warehouse on Clink Street. The “resident” DJs were “Evil” Eddie Richards and Lawrence “Kid” Batchelor, with Richard West, aka Mr. C, and Shock Sound System in the backroom. The mighty E-Mix rocked the mic.

There’s a story here that runs in parallel to that of the well-publicized Shoom, one that I don’t think has been properly explored. There are some great online interviews with Mr. C, and a decent Bill Brewster Mixmag article, but how these these people, and parties, came together, still isn’t fully explained. I have to confess that while writing my short fanzine piece, I became fascinated by “The Clink”. Lost in the priceless video footage on Youtube. Watching, you could argue that this was the closest London ever came to the sheer abandon of Chicago`s legendary Music Box. For starters, the soundtrack`s almost identical. With not enough house to go round – “all night long” – at that point the Windy City sides are smashed together with leftfield pop, like Yello`s Bostich (“Everybody be somebody!”) and Lime`s camp Canadian classic, On The Grid. In one of the clips you can spot S`express` Mark Moore moving and grooving to the Italo of Klein & MBO`s Dirty Talk. There’s also a glimpse of The Jungle Brothers doing a P.A., who must have thought, “What The Fuck?” as the scenes around them – frozen in flashing strobes – look like a shamanic rite taking place in a derelict nuclear bunker. The music, bass heavy, booming, overdriven, distorted. It`s a miracle that the DJs could manage to mix. 

Thirty years on, and sober, the clips are fucking crazy. Exciting and exhilarating, but if you stumbled upon them by accident, with no history, or context, I’m pretty sure you’d find them scary, terrifying even. No room for “Norman Normal” in here. Clubs like Nicky Holloway`s Trip were like Top Of The Pops in comparison. Taking notes on the Bam Bam track actually made my brain hurt. These days, more used to mellow deep-listening, trying to follow the dueling, fighting, 303s` twists and turns, almost gave me a nervous breakdown. Just watching the dancers, now, drug-free, made me feel tired. It`s no wonder that we were stick thin.

The winter issue of Faith Fanzine is available to order directly from Defected. As usual, it’s packed with articles, interviews, and charts. In amongst that lot you’ll also find a review of a few forgotten Chicago classics from Balearic Mike, plus my short story, Where’s Your Child? 

faith fanzine winter 2022

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