As with House music supremo Frankie Knuckles in 2014, the unexpected death of Andrew Weatherall, apart from being a huge shock to all within the club / music community, represents a sudden juncture where a now older generation, once so vital with ideas and innovation, ponders its own mortality, the passage of time underlined with the passing of one of its heroes – a true UK great whose place, as both DJ and pioneering remixer, is assured in the history books, key to the understanding of dance culture and its evolution. So, this was especially sobering news to hear on Monday, social media awash with a genuine outpouring of loss.
Launching in Manchester on Thursday (January 30th), the British Culture Archive present a photographic exhibition, ‘The People’s City’, in conjunction with the host venue, The Refuge on Oxford Street, highlighting the work of Peter Walsh, Rob Bremner and Richard Davis, and curated by Paul Wright. This follows on from their debut exhibition late last year at The Social in London.
Trevor Jackson is something of a cultural maven whose thirty-plus years in the more underground corridors of the music industry has seen him fulfil a number of catalytic roles – starting off as a graphic designer at Champion Records in the late-‘80s, responsible for the S-Express ‘Theme From S-Express’ and Raze ‘Break 4 Love’ sleeves, amongst many other subsequently. Later a recording artist in his own right (Playgroup), a record company owner (Output) and, of course, a DJ, he continues to do his thing in his own inimitable way.
Dave Haslam’s new book, ‘Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor’ has just been published by Constable. It’s an ode to his time in Manchester, from 1980 when he arrived in the city from his Birmingham home to study English Literature, right through until what he’s been up to in more recent times, but as you’d expect given Dave’s Haçienda legacy, particular emphasis is placed on his time as DJ at the much-hallowed venue, and the clubs that orbited around it.
This photo popped up on Facebook recently, taken by Mark McNulty, whose visual documentation of Liverpool’s club/music scene of the past 3 decades is now part of the city’s cultural legacy. It’s a photograph of a record cabinet Bill Drummond made following the death of Roger Eagle in 1999, which was displayed under the title ‘Dead White Man’ in the Jump Ship Rat, an alternative gallery space in Parr Street during Liverpool’s inaugural Biennial Festival that year, but not as part of the official programme, more an anarchic fringe event.
A few years ago I wanted to show a friend Tracey Emin’s 1995 short film, ‘Why I Never Became A Dancer’, but couldn’t find it anywhere online. The last time I’d seen it was perhaps a decade earlier, at The Tate Gallery in Liverpool, so I surmised that, given it’s part of the Tate Collection, it would only be possible to view in an arts space, and not on the internet. I looked to see if I could buy a copy, but no luck there either. Anyhow, it came up in conversation again a few nights ago so I had another look online and, lo and behold, there it was on Vimeo, in all of its grainy Super 8 splendour. It was Emin’s first film, and for me it was a major key to understanding where she was coming from, both as an artist and a person (for her confessional art is, by nature, informed by her personal experience – her approach often brutally honest).
I’m all about connections. What really turns me on is when two previously separate areas of interest suddenly collide head on thanks to the discovery of a new piece of information. The connections are already there, it’s just that we’re blind to them much of the time, so when John Higgs, the author of ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic And The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds’, does the detective work and pieces of the jigsaw fall together in a way that reveals a different picture to what we may previously have envisaged, that’s a deeply nourishing feast for me.
Liverpool is on the cusp of something special. I firmly believe that the cogs are clicking into place and the connections are being made as we enter a new cycle in this unique city’s cultural quest.
40 years ago, you could go into a club and have no idea where the DJ was, let alone who they were. Often set out of the way in some dark corner, the DJ booth was generally crude and cramped, whilst the sound system reflected this lack of attention to what most people nowadays agree is the most important aspect of all when it comes to a club space – how the music sounds, and the way in which it’s presented.
One of Rock’s iconic figures, former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed, died yesterday, aged 71. His death was reportedly due to a ‘liver related ailment’ (Reed had undergone a liver transplant earlier this year).