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Tag Archives | Bill Brewster

Soussan Meets Wilson At The Uptown Festival

Uptown Festival

I’d meant to put this up back in May, 40 years after the record in question was released, but didn’t manage to get around to it. I wanted to highlight my Time Capsule series, which I put together for a series of 21 monthly episodes spanning January 1976 to September 1977. Each month consists of a podcast, nowadays available to stream via Mixcloud, featuring the dance music played by myself and other UK DJs back then. This was accompanied by text, where I talked about the tracks and the artists featured, whilst outlining my early days as a DJ.

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Banbarra Unmasked

shack-up

Back in 1975 a single appeared on the United Artists label in the US by a new band called Banbarra, entitled ‘Shack Up’. It addressed one of the burning issues of the day, something that had been highlighted during the sexual revolution of the ’60s – co-habiting with a partner outside of wedlock, or what was more commonly referred to as ‘living in sin’.

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Life And Death On The New York Dance Floor 1980-1983

Life And Death On The New York Dancefloor

Back in the early 2000s, when I began to explore the internet properly, discovering a number of DJ forums discussing dance culture and its history, it was clear that the early ’80s had been largely obscured. This was the period that followed the supposed death of Disco in 1979 (prompted by the vitriolic racist / homophobic ‘’Disco Sucks’ campaign fronted by WLUP Chicago shock jock Steve Dahl), and preceded the emergence of House music during the mid-’80s.

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Low Life / The Demise Of The DJ Forum

DJHistory

One of London’s longest running, and most influential underground club nights, Low Life, bowed out with a bang on Halloween. The party originally started in New York back in the early ’90s (before transferring to London in 1997), its driving force being Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, who were later to publish the book ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life’ (1999), charting the history of the DJ, as well as subsequently setting up the DJ History website. A Ransom Note interview with Bill outlines the reasons behind the decision to call it a day, not only with Low Life, but also with djhistory.com:
http://www.theransomnote.co.uk/music/interviews/farewell-to-lowlife-bill-brewster-talks

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Northern Renaissance

The Northern Soul movement has marked 2 significant anniversaries this year – the launch of the weekly All-Nighters at the scene’s most famous venue, Wigan Casino, in 1973, as well as the opening of its foundation club, Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, 10 years earlier. A new book, ‘Northern Soul – An Illustrated History’ was recently published by Virgin Books, its co-author, Bury-born Elaine Constantine, also the director of the upcoming film ‘Northern Soul’. The book has been well received by Northern aficionados, Constantine (and Gareth Sweeney) congratulated for their insightful overview of the movement, which is enhanced by the anecdotal offerings of some of the DJs, dancers and collectors who epitomized Northern Soul. Alongside the music and the clubs in which it featured, the book also highlights the drug culture that played such a major role, amphetamines fuelling its development.

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David Mancuso And The Art Of Deejaying Without Deejaying

David Mancuso - photo by Roberto Najar

David Mancuso’s London Loft party, ‘Journey Through The Light’, celebrates its 10th anniversary on June 23rd. Held Upstairs @ The Light in Shoreditch, it’s a party like no other, underpinned by a high-end audiophile sound system that has to be heard to be believed. Although its originator, now approaching his 70s, hasn’t been able to make it in person during recent times, the party continues in his absence, Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy his chosen stand in (he hopes to return for future dates though).

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On The Tube

Greg Wilson On The Tube 25.02.83

Exactly 30 years ago today, on 25th February 1983, I appeared on Channel 4’s influential music show, ‘The Tube’, demonstrating mixing for the first time on live TV in the UK – just my luck that the very point I was encapsulated in a cultural moment, it coincided with a brief phase where I looked like an extra from the Hair Bear Bunch, but that’s the way the mop flops. The footage is nowadays fondly regarded as part of British dance heritage, illustrating how the New York innovation of mixing was finally finding favour on this side of the Atlantic, where the microphone was still a key component of the DJs approach. For a full account of how UK DJs gradually put down the microphone and embraced mixing, check out ‘How The Talking Stopped’, an in-depth step by step account of its British evolution:
http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/articles/how_the_talking_stopped.html

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Jimmy Savile – DJ Originator Or More Smoke And Mirrors?

Just over 12 months ago, on October 29th 2011, the TV and radio personality Sir Jimmy Savile died 2 days before his 85th birthday (he was born on Halloween 1926). He was regarded as one of the great British eccentrics, but there were always rumours about deviant behaviour, although nothing proven. Apart from his contribution to broadcasting, Savile was also said to be the first DJ, not only in Britain, but the World, to use twin-turntables, back in the 1940s, making him an unlikely icon to DJs of the modern era. Here’s the blog post I wrote at the time of his death:
http://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2011/10/sir-jimmy-savile/

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How Clubbing Changed The World

Last month I was over in Chicago chilling out in my hotel room ahead of my first gig in the city, at Smart Bar, a venue with a rich tradition, which opened back in 1982. Chicago is, of course, along with Detroit, Philadelphia and New York, revered as a key US city when it comes to the evolution of dance culture (and, indeed, black culture, with, way before House, a deep heritage in Rhythm & Blues, Blues and Jazz, dating right back to the ‘great migration’ of black workers from the southern states, beginning just over 100 years ago).

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