Tuesday 12 July 2022

1990.05.21 Graeme Park - Haçienda Manchester - 8th Birthday Night

It was a struggle trying to get the week off work, but it had to be done.  Wednesday night had already been a large one spent as usual on the Haçienda floor. The buzz was electric that night, more so than usual.  Have you got your ticket for Monday?  Do you know anyone who has a spare one to sell? So it went, searching, making sure we were all going to get in. Monday just could not come quick enough.  The weather was hot, we were feeling good, and the added bonus was, we had a top few days planned before the party that following Monday.  First stop Womad festival. Four days of escapism. K-Klass, James, Gil Scott Heron and a few nights camping under the stars at the seaside town of Morecambe. Why we set up our tent a few down from a dub reggae sound system beats me, but we didn't move it!  Then it was one night to catch up on much needed sleep before putting on the disco shoes for the birthday party! 

Eighth Birthday Ticket

My memory of that Monday night is kind of vague - no surprise there!  I'm pretty sure Sasha played, I'm sure it was him - for some reason I have it in mind that he messed a mix up trying to blend two copies of Found Love by Double Dee.  I had just bought my copy which – perhaps - is why this memory came to mind, of course it is possible I got that wrong!  It would be rare for Sasha to train crash a mix but it happens to us all - especially me! The night was ecstatic, everyone was in a good mood, the atmosphere stimulated to the hilt. I recall Madonna's Vogue being played too. Weirdly, I wasn't that impressed, it’s not that I dislike it, it's just that I've never been able to co-ordinate synchronised moves to YMCA let alone being able to vogue! It was a welcome moment to grab a free pint of iced water courtesy of Faç51, a welcome release from the heat of the floor! Got a nice souvenir though, yellow lanyard type thing - will have to dig it out. 

Eighth Birthday Poster
Birthdays at the Haçienda were special. Party atmosphere, out with your mates, new clothes, time to celebrate dancing to top tunes. I do remember another record that was played that night; one that would have a deep impact on me, one that has easily taken a place in my top ten. 12"s of deep pulsating heaven that left you with no choice but to close your eyes, let yourself go, lock on and... dance... and dance we did. By the following Saturday it was in my record box. A great night despite the Haçienda's pending licence review.

Mixmag June 1990 More focused on licencing rather than the 8th Birthday Party!

The Haçienda was no stranger to deep house, and I mean deep. This record was so deep it felt like the lyric, the rhythms, beats and melody had been around since time immemorial. It was so deep it permeated the very ground we danced on, it felt like it had seeped into the atmosphere that surrounds us. It feels like its message was just waiting for the right moment to fill our souls to be free.

Part of the attraction of house music has been the messages portrayed within the lyrics, messages against oppression, separation, and hatred, messages of social inclusion, harmony and change: 

‘Brothers, sisters, one day we will be free, from fighting, violence, people crying in the streets, where the angels from above fall down and spread their wings like doves, as we walk hand in hand, sisters, brothers, we’ll make it to the promised land’ or:

Joe Smooth & Ce Ce Rogers - Haçienda Classics

'Free from the pressure and the prejudice, we can change it all with tenderness, there’ll be no void between black and white, we’ll be able to walk the streets at night, You’ll be able to walk the streets at night, I won’t be full while someone dies of starvation, The whole world will be my nation, We will walk hand in hand,I’ll go to South Africa and be called a man, ' and: 

'We need, come together right now, we got to show respect for one another, Bring us all together someday, because if we try to listen to each other, maybe we can find a way' not forgetting:

L.A Mix - Love Together

'To achieve the peace, that was born in our country, we shall all be free. Follow me, why don't you follow me, to a place, where we can be free, come with me, over there, an interracial hatred, and there's love to share, can you feel it'... also:

Aly-Us & Timmy Thomas - Haçienda Classics

'No matter, no matter what colour, you are still my brother, I said, "No matter, no matter what colour, you are still my brother" Everybody wants to live together, why can't we live together?'

Timeless tracks that together we all sang and danced to. Joe Smooth’s - 'Promised Land', CeCe Roger's - 'Someday', L.A Mix - 'Love Together', Aly-Us - 'Follow Me' and Timmy Thomas – 'Why Can’t We Live Together'. Messages of inclusion, freedom and harmony, that we could all live as one.  Through house music we could all dance under the same roof.  Colour, sexuality, gender, political beliefs didn't matter we were there on the dancefloor - sharing the moment, happy, smiling, dancing and embracing.  For those brief hours we spent in our cathedral... just for moments, it was real, it was possible. We took these messages into the wider world - they became our way of life, dance music breaking down barriers. I have the Banji dub of 'Love Together' on as I type - goosebumps - that piano is to die for!  This post could be about anyone of these and more, but none of them were played that Monday night.

The Haçienda - Dancefloor - Ben Kelly

It is a brave DJ that would play my chosen track from the start. It deserves to be played this way.  That's not a criticism on the DJ's who I've heard play it either. What I enjoy about this record is that it forces you to listen without forcing you to listen, you want to listen! It is subtle yet hits you with a brick, you want it to end but it cannot end. One minute of spoken lyric, one minute of pure poetry. A lyric with a rhythmic soundtrack of its own, drum like, its lyrical chant becoming louder and louder. It was as if a message that has been whispered for all eternity has been released, gaining momentum, speaking the truth, making you listen, making you think, agitating your thoughts, not letting go. Lyrics about oppression, injustice, control, of freedom awakening.  Lyrics that should never be forgotten, words that are relevant for all time. They are deeper than words, they are feelings, thoughts, emotions, spiritual - a lyric still relevant today!  Those lyrics were played one night at the Haçienda, around October 1990 during a live P.A. all the way from Brooklyn New York. The beauty of that performance was, this record was played from start to finish - I was thrilled. That was an excellent night, it blew me away! However this post is about the birthday party and one particular track.

Haçienda Crowd -1990 
My chosen record begins with that spoken dub lyric. From the start each word forms a rhythm, lyrics that develop in their intensity, style and meaning. Lyrics that agitate, irritate and permeate, lyrics that cannot, will not be ignored.  A minute in we are introduced to a dry snare that sits behind the spoken lyric, continuing the rhythm, building the rhythm.  As the lyric drops, its message somehow continues, remaining in your psyche. We begin to hear a gliding spiritual church like organ take over, its melodies riding those lyrics, somehow carrying the lyric with it – it is now in your mind. Dancers that have already begun to sway begin to liven, anticipating, moving to the soundtrack that is yet to come. Quietly at first, then rising gently the pulse of a dub sounding bassline emerges becoming louder and louder awakening our instinct to dance.  You are hooked. A crash of symbols agitates, as if a storm is coming - intensifying the groove, capturing our attention as reverberating, unsettling, organ keys stomp, setting the tone, taking you with it, picking up the pace.  It makes you dance; you want to dance. A synth melody rises, stirring, spreading its historical message as if calling you to join its chant as the beat and claps dance in and out with the whip of the snare. Deep grooves at their best. Riding this ancient rhythm, the most delicious, magical jazzy floating flute caresses and agitates - melancholic, disturbing, yet at the same time somehow happy, you want it to be happy, you want to follow it, as it locks you into the depths of time - it's pulse dancing... Eyes closed, dancing, hypnotised, the relentless groove carries you along.  Feeling layers upon layers of melody, beat and rhythm, that make you move, daring you not to stop. A second flute emerges intensifying, further agitating, irritating, piercing, reaching an intense crescendo only dipping as the sound of clashing symbols liberates our minds body and soul. It's message now free, now understood. We are left with the reverberating keys, an almost primal dub like bassline and gliding church organ - their melodic rhythms dancing on and on, never ending. continuing to remind us of the historical struggle – awakening memories that should not be forgotten - just like the lyric.  Deep, as deep as it can go... Timeless, ageless, truly amazing. It is 8'35" of pure intense beauty. Every time I play it, I hear something new, it still sounds fresh, it sounds relevant.

Bobby Konders

The name of the track - The Poem.  The artist - Bobby Konders. Known for his love of reggae, house and hip hop, Jamaican born Bobby Konders was one of the early house producers on the New York house scene in the late 80s – early 90’s. He produced the now classics, ‘Let There Be House’, ‘Nervous Acid,’ ‘Where is the Future’ and the excellent Dub Poets - 'Black and White.' All massive tracks in the Haçienda. Bobby now hosts the largest reggae show in NYC on Hot97.  The Poem was released in 1990 on New York's Nu Groove Records.  Like many New York labels, Nu Groove was blistering hot, their catalogue is outstanding, 'Aphrodisiac's - Song of the Siren', 33 1/3 Queen’s - Searchin’ and 'N.Y. House'n Authority's - Apt3'.... Records that have stood the test of time.

Benjamin Zephaniah - Dub Poet

During the 80’s I spent many a night at gigs. One night, around 1985, I was fortunate enough to see a performance by British-Jamaican dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah. Benjamin’s lyrics were not like any poetry I had heard before, I was mesmerised. Poems about oppression, racism and injustice with the British legal system. Poems that were far different than the fodder we read at school. Each lyric hit home with personal and social meaning following his experiences of the inner-city race riots in the early 80’s.  My interest was ignited - check out the 'Dread Affair' one of my favourite books of poetry. Incidently Benjamin wrote a poem called 'This Poem'. However...

Revolutionary Dub Poet - Mutabaruka - Dis poem was released on the album the Mystery Unfolds in 1986

Bobby Konders - 'The Poem' introduced us to the lyric of another reggae dub poet Mutabaruka, who wrote a poem in 1986 entitled - 'Dis Poem'. What I love about ‘Dis Poem’, is that every time I hear it, like Konders music, I hear something new. It messes with your mind mind mind. The lyric agitates, just as the sound of the flutes did, yet somehow, its words are not overtly in your face, yet they hit you with a brick. The lyric's rhythmic metaphors and imagery weave their own hypnotic beat as they make you think, they make you analyse, forcing you to want to know the meaning of its ancient messages as they dance messing with your mind. Freedom, oppression, racism, violence, struggle, each word sits uncomfortably, yet lyrically beautiful at the same time. Lyrics that evoke awareness, provoke memories and stir emotions, ‘Dis Poem’ challenges you. The message in the lyric that most strikes a chord with me is ‘dis poem is old new’ it is not an old message, nor is it new, it has never changed, that weighs heavy on my heart.  Think about that. Its lyric makes you angry, sad, irritated. Lyrics, feelings and emotions that stand for the reality of struggle from the beginning of time, lyrics that have yet to reach their conclusion.  Dis Poem's ending stays unfinished – it leaves me with the possibility, the feeling of hope, that maybe, just maybe, one day it could conclude. I would welcome that. 

Dis Poem

shall speak of the wretched sea
that washed ships to these shores
of mothers cryin for their young
swallowed up by the sea
dis poem shall say nothin new
dis poem shall speak of time
time unlimited time undefined
dis poem shall call names
names like lumumba kenyatta nkrumah
hannibal akenaton malcolm garvey
haile selassie
dis poem is vexed about apartheid rascism fascism
the klu klux klan riots in brixton atlanta
jim jones
dis poem is revoltin against 1st world 2nd world
3rd world division man made decision
dis poem is like all the rest
dis poem will not be amongst great literary works
will not be recited by poetry enthusiasts
will not be quoted by politicians nor men of religion
dis poem s knives bombs guns blood fire
blazin for freedom
yes dis poem is a drum
ashanti mau mau ibo yoruba nyahbingi warriors
uhuru uhuru
uhuru namibia
uhuru soweto
uhuru afrika
dis poem will not change things
dis poem need to be changed
dis poem is a rebirth of a peopl
arizin awaking understandin
dis poem speak is speakin have spoken
dis poem shall continue even when poets have stopped writin
dis poem shall survive u me it shall linger in history
in your mind
in time forever
dis poem is time only time will tell
dis poem is still not written
dis poem has no poet
dis poem is just a part of the story
his-story her-story our-story the story still untold
dis poem is now ringin talkin irritatin
makin u want to stop it,
 but dis poem will not stop
dis poem is long cannot be short
dis poem cannot be tamed cannot be blamed
the story is still not told about dis poem
dis poem is old new
dis poem was copied from the bible your prayer book
playboy magazine the n.y. times readers digest
the c.i.a. files, the k.g.b. files, dis poem is no secret
dis poem shall be called boring stupid senseless
dis poem is watchin u tryin to make sense from dis poem
dis poem is messin up your brains
makin u want to stop listenin to dis poem
but u shall not stop listenin to dis poem
u need to know what will be said next in dis poem
dis poem shall disappoint u
dis poem is to be continued in your mind in your mind
in your mind your mind

Mutabaruka's poem is as relevant today as when it was written. The Black Lives Matter movement over the past couple of years has borne witness to the continued struggle faced by Black people through time. Police stop and search policies, political control, social injustice, economic disparity as well as white privilege, all still result in the same objectives - racism, oppression, violence, and division. This must end - mustn't it? As a white male, I cannot know what it is like to face the daily struggle experienced by Black people. I can only try to empathise, listen and understand. I do not wake in the morning wondering if I am going to face abuse, wondering if I am going to be treated differently, wondering if I am going to be stopped in the street - all because of the colour of my skin. A privilege I do not want.

 Black Lives Matter Protest - Manchester England - June 2022

I know this hate is wrong. I knew as an infant that this hate was wrong, something my father would not tolerate, he treated everyone the same. I know we are equal; we share the same emotions, aspirations, and the desire to live a peaceful life. Black Lives Matter. If this post challenges, makes you angry, read ‘Dis Poem,’ listen to ‘The Poem’ by Bobby Konders. Dance, hug, talk, read, listen, come together on a dancefloor, at a festival or on the street, in a cafe, or shop... Embrace each other’s culture. Smile at each other. Recognise that we are all the same, we are all equal. Stand up to division, discrimination, racism, sexism, homophobia, they cannot and will not be tolerated. Question those who seek to assert their power, install hate and division. Show love, acceptance, and respect. Accept we are all brothers and sisters - walk tall - hand in hand.  Only then Mutabaruka’s 'Dis Poem' just may reach its conclusion. Until then, may Bobby Konders song remain in our hearts, our minds and on our dancefloors. Maybe I'm a romantic but I live in hope... I still want to go to that promised land just as we once did, dancing in our utopia, in our church, our Haçienda... 

Our Cathedral - Our Church - Our Utopia

Bobby Konders – ‘The Poem’ was played at the Haçienda that 8th Birthday Party night. Captured on tape, It was played loud, and we danced, we hugged, we smiled - one nation together. 'The Poem's' message didn't go unnoticed. For me it felt like both words and music had been written together at the same time, in synch with each other, although they were not, I like to think they had been!  Tape 2 of the DJ mix I am sharing has been distributed many, many times, it is another one of those that remains popular. This download has an extra 11 minutes  -  you will also find that earlier mp3s have been labelled the wrong way round too! The added bonus with this post is you can now hear Tape 1. Feel free to click the link below to download. Enjoy!

 1990.05.21 Graeme Park - Haçienda Manchester - 8th Birthday - Tape 1

 1990.05.21 Graeme Park - Hacienda Manchester - 8th Birthday - Tape 2



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