Thursday, 21 February 2019

1989.07 Mike Pickering & Graeme Park @ Haçienda Manchester

"The Greatest Night Ever!"

I had to sample that line from one of the finest fanzines that I have ever been lucky enough to read!  Mr postman was extremely kind to me and this dropped in my letter box a few days ago!   

Wow, I am blown away - I love it!   Freaky Dancing is an anarchic, humorous, heartfelt, warm and personal insight into that first moment when the world changed for us all!    If you were there you know what I mean!! It was a moment that we all wanted to share with our friends, our enemies - well with just about everyone except ya mum and dad!  It needed to be dropped, added to the water supply, given away free and it was the start to each and every 'Greatest Night in the World!.   Read the first few pages and you will understand exactly what I mean!  Simply put - this is a superb read and one you can't afford to miss out on!   Tony Wilson's Kickers! (well we all wore them!), Mr Smiley's 'How Does It Feel' Russian Fridays and Adam Pain on a mission will have you creased up - so bad it's good!

Freaky Dancing - the complete collection does what it says on the tin!   As previously mentioned in my last BLOG51 post, Freaky Dancing was a fanzine that was given away free to clubbers as they waited to get into the Haçienda on a Friday night.  For the first time ever, it is now available to buy as a complete collection, lovingly illustrated  and as thoughtfully provoking as it is funny!  Freaky Dancing captures exactly those clubbing experiences and moments that we all went through, how we all thought and how we felt felt during those mad years of 1989 and 1990 when the Haçienda exploded onto the world stage and became the place to go to.... It was not a place to go to to be seen, it was the place to go to lose it like you had never done before - Freaky Dancing encapsulates this so succinctly that the memories will flood back so sweetly that you will think you are having flash backs and living it all one more time!  What more can you ask for - and cheaper than that first New Yorker!  However, for me, this book is priceless!

As I settled down to read my newly acquired book, an idea struck me!   I thought it would be good put on a tape to replicate the time, moment and sound that clubbers had when they were first given a copy of the fanzine, waiting in the queue, to recreate that original experience!  Haçienda tunes, a good read and a bottle or too!

With this in mind, a mix tape on in the background, Graeme Park & Mike Pickering from the month the fanzine was first given away, I soon completed Volume One!  Now I faced a dilemma!   Do I change mixes and read Volume Two?  I couldn't bring myself to do it though!  Instead, I thought it would be a nice gesture to Paul Gill and Ste Pickford, who had lovingly put the collection together; to share with you all a mix recorded at the Haçienda from each of the months in which the fanzine was published.  

Haçienda Queue!

As the first edition was 'excitedly' given away free during the hot, heady, hedonistic, Haçienda month of July 1989, 😍 what better way than to enjoy it with a free Park n Pickering Haçienda mix from that month too!   So, sit back, grab your book, pour a glass and head back to the messy month that was July 1989 at the Haçienda, Manchester!  


Look out for monthly Freaky Dancing Updates and an accompanying mix! Oh yes, go buy the book too!

Tuesday, 12 February 2019


BLOG51 is so excited, oh so very excited!  Every now and then a rare slice of Haçienda history comes along and lets us sample the unique culture of the club and dance scene as we experienced when it was at it's height, dominating clubland and leading the way - a superclub even before the term was invented!   This is special!  It is special in that it captures the true zeitgeist of the times, the queue, the music, the extreems, the hedonism and the madness of it all!

Freaky dancing was a fanzine, mostly given away free to clubbers in the queue of the Haçienda.  I recall seeing copies here and there but sadly never got one for myself!   However, soon that will change - all will become clearer in an exciting new book, available on February 21st - check out this teaser!   

I will let the words of Anthony H Wilson introduce this one! 

"The most important piece of journalism I've read in the last twenty years." Tony Wilson   

The Hacienda's legendary unofficial acid house fanzine, Freaky Dancing, Has been compiled into a complete anthology by The Quietus (TQLC) with a foreword written by A Guy Called Gerald and will be published physically & digitally on Thursday February 21. 
 Launch party featuring Classical Uproar live and Suddi Raval DJ set will be held at Soup Kitchen, Manchester on Saturday March 2.

Freaky Dancing was the unofficial Haçienda acid house fanzine. It ran for 11 issues between July 1989 and August 1990. The first eight issues were given out free to people in the queue to the club on a Friday night. Later issues were sold around Manchester and reached a peak circulation of 750. The fanzine was put together by Paul ‘Fish Kid’ Gill and Ste Pickford with help from their friends and Haçienda regulars. It was written and drawn during the week then printed out using the photocopier in Ste’s office after work on a Friday. The photocopier didn’t survive. During the fanzine’s lifespan the Haçienda became the most famous - and infamous - nightclub on earth. It was a year of incredible highs and dark lows. Ultimately the scene imploded in paranoia, shootings and way too many drugs. Freaky Dancing documented this journey from blissful optimism to inevitable self-destruction. Famous fans included Peter Hook of New Order, DJ Mike Pickering and Tony Wilson, who described it as, “The most important piece of journalism I’ve read in the last twenty years.”

The new 276 page anthology published by the Quietus on Thursday February 21 contains a foreword by Northern techno legend A Guy Called Gerald, all 11 volumes of the fanzine, The Highs Of Freaky Dancing, never seen before strips plus a scrapbook of sketches, reviews, fliers and photographs. It’s a potent capsule of a special time and place in all of its ragged psychedelic glory - essential for rave scholars and fans of DIY culture alike.

The anthology will be launched at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen on Saturday March 2 with a performance by the stunning Classical Uproar ensemble, playing acoustic versions of rave classics and a full DJ set by acid house master Suddi Raval of Hardcore Uproar. Anthology editors Paul Gill and Ste Pickford will be in conversation with John Doran of the Quietus and there will be a book signing.

 Information and tickets are available here: Freaky Dancing - Book Launch @ Soup Kitchen

Saturday, 9 February 2019

1988.12.15 Mike Pickering @ Haçienda Nude, Manchester

Every now and then we hear a tune that becomes synonymous with a certain time, place or event from which we first heard it.  Music can spark memories and emotions that become deep seated and when listened to whether it be days or years later, we are instantly taken back to the moment we first heard it.    

Throughout 1987 to 1988, the Haçienda was dominated by a wealth of underground American dance records that were fresh out of Detroit, Chicago and New York.  Record labels such as Transmat, DJ International, Traxx and Big Beat to name a few would provide the soundtrack to our party nights and we loved it, we couldn't get enough.   As the first summer of love progressed we partied to this new house sound however from late 1988, we began to see a change to this US dominance. Now it was the turn of Manchester to create a stir.  Something was in the air, something very special!   Picture if you will, a heaving dance floor, picture wide eyed, smiling ravers moving in unison, losing it to each breakdown, each build up, to each peak of each record then out of the blue, Pickering dropped a track for the first time!   It was unmistakable; you can never un-hear it - why would you even want to!   

 Hey-ya ah ha-hey-hey-hey-yah
Hey-yah ah-ha ooh
(Hey-ya ah-ha)
Ooh-oo-hoo ah-ha ha yeah
He-hey-ya hey-yah ah-ha ooh hey-yah ah-ha ooh
(La-la-la-la l-later later later later)
Ooh-oo-hoo (voodoo ray ray ray ray) ah-ha ha yeah

The name of the record was Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald.   When you hear it for the first time you could be forgiven for wondering if it had been purposely written for the Haçienda. As for me, from that first listen, I feel it was destined to be a defining Haçienda moment.  Whenever I listen to it, it feels like the song is part of the essence of what the Haçienda was about if you know what I mean?   The Haçienda would provide the perfect setting to unleash what is one huge track! With it's trance-like, tribal, acid baseline and haunting vocal hooks, Voodoo Ray pounds, pulsates and permeates, rattling that huge warehouse space, flowing into every corner, every nook, even seeping into the brick work!  The crowd knew it too!  We went mental - talk about right place right time!   It was so uplifting being on the dance floor as Nicola Collier's beautiful vocal chant would emerge from behind the preceding track. Our hands would lift automatically in unison, reaching high as if in exaltation to the addictive acid melody, our body's jacking to the thumping beat and our spines tingled joyously as we grooved in time to the tribal, almost hypnotic, steel drum carnival undertones and beat!  Smiles fill the soul and you are hooked!   'Hey-ya ah ha-hey-hey-hey-yah' - the floor erupts, it goes wild, and the chant lasts forever..... as we sang 'Voodoo Ray, Voodoo, Voodoo, Voodoo Ray' echoing around that church of acid house!  Just typing the name 'Voodoo Ray' makes me think of the Haçienda, and that first time I heard it.   

Written and produced by a talented Mancunian - Gerald Simpson who we know and love as 'A Guy Called Gerald!'  At the time Gerald was in another seminal group from that time - 808 State.  During the summer of 88, Gerald was dividing his time between working in the studio with 808 State, spending evenings in the Haçienda and trying to make ends meet at McDonald's, but he also had aspirations to cut his own track, the way he wanted to!   Taking his influences from Jazz Funk, Soul, Dub, Electro, and early Detroit house tracks, he took inspiration from dancers such as Foot Patrol and Jazz Defektors who were active in the black club scene,  It was with these in mind that Gerald would sneak off recording sessions to put his own tracks together.   Gerald found a sample on a vocal record by Peter Cook & Dudley Moore (British comedians).  Initially, the intention was to sample this phrase, 'Voodoo Rage' but the sampler didn't have enough memory and the resulting track was born.... 'Voodoo Ray'.  It just rolls off the tongue. 

Voodoo Ray was recorded over two days in June 1988, after which Gerald set out to press five hundred white label copies on Rham!  These were reported to have sold out in a day despite initially being hailed as 'being too British' by some critics.  Nonetheless, eager to promote his record, Gerald took a test tape along to Stu Allan, a DJ on Piccadilly Radio in Manchester.  Stu Allan played the track on his show, announcing it as 'being from 'A Guy Called Gerald' a kid from Hulme.' Stu Allan had inadvertently given Gerald his name - the rest is history!  

I read an interview, where it was reported that Gerald  dropped a copy of Voodoo Ray off  at the flat of Jon DaSilva (Haçienda DJ) to see if he would play it.  Jon who lived in the same Hulme flats as Gerald said he would. As Gerald was leaving the flats, he heard it being played, echoing around the concrete corridors - I can only imagine the excitement that he must have felt at that moment!  Such was the impact, Voodoo Ray was soon getting peak airing at the Haçienda with Graeme Park, Mike Pickering and Jon DaSilva championing it. Gerald recalls hearing Voodoo ray at the Haçienda for the first time and it 'blew him away.... there was nothing else like it'.

Over the next few months, Voodoo Ray was to become a huge clubland success. It filled dance floors all over the UK. Copies flew out of independent record shops and soon It was to become a chart hit born out of this dance floor success.   Warlock a prominent record label in the United States went on to release Voodoo Ray with a remix by Frankie Knuckles himself.  However it was the homegrown original that was to reach number 12 in the British charts in July 1989, argueably perhaps the UK's first great house anthem!

In my mind, 'Voodoo ray' was one of those moments that defined what was going on in clubland and with underground music at that time.  It represented the get up and do it yourself attitude of young clubbers in the UK.  Just as the house pioneeers had done with disco in the states, kids in the UK now took the great elements of US House Music and delivered it full force back to clubland.  The result was to take the scene in a total new direction and they blew the minds of US Dj's!  Tracks like A Guy Called Gerald's - Voodoo Ray and 808 State's - Pacific State could have so easily been mistaken for US House records but the beauty is, they were homegrown, written by kids who took their inspiration from the dance-floor and what is more - they  inspired others to do the same! The scene was to soon explode - all very reminiscent of the punk scene just over a decade earlier!    It is also great to dance to, too! 😊

Once again picture it!  It could have been the Autumn of 1988, it may have been the Summer of 1989, or maybe a field or nightclub in any town, in any country or in any year! The time or location is not what is important. What is important though, is that first time. That first moment where you are dancing, lost in the groove and all of a sudden you hear the chant, the beats and that acid baseline..... Ooh (ooh ooh ooh ooh) - Hey-ya ah ha-hey-hey-hey-yah.... Voodoo Ray.   It grabs you, holds you and becomes emblazoned on your soul.  It makes you want to sing, it makes you want to dance and it makes you wish you were there once again, reliving the moment when you first heard it, on a dance floor at the Haçienda!

To capture the moment and experience 'A Guy Called Gerald's - Voodoo Ray' as we once did - here is another set for you to enjoy.   Turn up those headphones, crank your speakers up loud. Where ever you are, what ever you are currently doing - stop, close your eyes and picture yourself at the Haçienda..... Voodoo, Voodoo Voodoo Ray!   Enjoy!   

A Guy Called Gerald, DJ - Musician - Record Producer - Pioneer 

Today, 'A Guy Called Gerald' continues to be a key figure and highly influential both in the UK and Internationally, recording and producing music as well as DJing.   To find out more click the link and visit the website of one of UK first house music producers!

Sunday, 3 February 2019

1992.09 Buckley, Russ, Davoli & Pickering @ Haçienda, Deconstruction Records Party

Think 'Haçienda', think music and we think about 'Factory' a record label so closely entwined with the history of the club and the vibrant music scene from which they emerged, that they are synonymous with each other!  Much is written about how Factory Records, Joy Division and New Order financed the Haçienda's design, build and constant cash injections that were to keep it afloat during the club's turbulant early years.  For me though, there was another record label that was just as equally important and influential in the clubs history - especially during the Haçienda's house music years.  That label is - Deconstruction! 

The beauty about being a DJ in the UK's most influential nightclub is that you are perfectly placed to see how the floor reacts when you play a track for the first time. Instantly the DJ will know what is going to be a hit, what works, what flops, what will burn slowly and what influences dance floor madness!  To this extent,  the logical next step for a DJ, producer and A&R promoter would be set up and own a record label and go on to form your own band!   One such DJ was Mike Pickering.

'Deconstruction' was originally started in 1986 by Mike Pickering, Pete Hadfield and Keith Blackhurst to release records that they were involved in.  The first releases were from Hothouse and T-Coy and both groups were to make their mark in different ways. Hothouse were a critically acclaimed soul act who introduced us to the wonderful Heather Small on vocals and were quickly sign to a major label; whilst  Mike Pickering's own act, T-Coy's was to release 'Carino', a Latin influenced dance record that was immediately placed number one in Stu Allan's chart on Piccadilly Radio and was huge at the Haçienda's Nude nights.  It was an instant underground hit, popular with New York and Chicago DJ's and arguably one of the first homegrown records to come out of the Haçienda!   


Over the next few years, Deconstruction Records would influence dance floors and the music scene in a major way - perhaps more than you could imagine!   Take a listen to Haçienda mix tapes from '88 to '89 and you will hear the huge pounding, melodic baseline, rolling acidic sound and dreamy vocals of Annette's - Dream 17, a track that even now continues to make such an impact in any set.  Such is the quality of the early releases on Deconstruction, that you would be mistaken if you thought Dream 17 was an import direct from Chicago, it sounded so deep, fresh and perfect!  I recall playing Dream 17 a few years ago at a boat party off Falmouth Docks and the reaction was mental - "wow what is this?  How much for it?"  It sounded that fresh, a sure sign that it has stood the test of time!

 Annette - Dream 17 (Original & Remix)

However, It was during 1989 that Deconstruction was to really make it's mark on clubland,  moreover it had a role in taking house music to the general population and on to peak time radio!.  Mike Pickering himself tells the story in an interview which can be read in full on the Deconstruction label's website!  Mike details how he was given a white label by an Italian guy whilst DJing one night in the Haçienda.  Upon playing it he found the reaction was so huge, that it caused such a sweet sensation!  Mike and Pete Hadfield urgently tracked it down and ended up releasing it on Deconstruction, re-recording the vocals to get around publishing issues!. The record that caused such excitement that summer was based on a disco record - we love and know it as 'Black Box - Ride On Time'.  It was huge, it was uplifting, it had energy and of course that piano. Such was the buzz and controversy that it ended up charting and going to number one in the UK charts.   Take a read of Mike's interview to find out more about the label and the truth behind the hit, it is a great read!   To this day, it is one of my guilty pleasures, hearing it on the radio instantly transports me back to the summer of '89 and those hedonistic nights in the Haçienda.

Deconstruction was to release more huge club records over the next few years. Another one of my guilty pleasures was 'Infinity (1990's...Time For The Guru) by Guru Josh', 'Casonova's Revenge - Let's Work'; the beautiful vocal piano track by 'Shalor - I'm in love', all huge tracks that dominated the Haçienda floor.  Deconstruction were to release a few early compilations, championing stateside releases and introduced us to a European sound!  Euphoric clubbers were hungry for this piano driven, 'hands in the air' sound and soon a new genre was to take it's place alongside the staple diet of dance from Chicago and Detroit.  Italian House had arrived and the Haçienda went wild.  British acts were quickly signed.  K-Klass, Bassheads and N-Joi all had huge clubland hits.  Never had clubland been so vibrant and diverse, it was hedonistic paradise!  'Rhythm is a Mystery', 'Is There Anybody Out There?' and 'Anthem' were all clubland hits and are still highly sought after 30 years later! - such was the influence of this pioneering dance label.  Deconstruction continued to release influential records over the next few years taking a more 'progressive' feel to the labels sound, capturing the changing tastes in the UK scene.  Deconstruction has re-emerged over the past few years have continued to release new material, such is the influence on clubland.

It Is As It Says!

Then another act emerged that took the music scene by storm. In 1991, the award winning M People was formed.  Mike Pickering, Heather Small and Paul Heard were to have hits such as 'How Can I Love You More?', 'Someday' and 'Colour My Life',  that had huge crossover appeal between clubland and chart success. This appeal soon saw them awarded the 'Mercury Music Prize for 'Best New Act' and a Brit Award for 'Best British Dance Act'.   Heather Small's beautiful, powerful, gospel influenced voice gave us club hits to sing along to and prominent Djs and producers such as Sasha and David Morales performed remix duties aimed at clubland!   The wonderful thing about all of this is that the roots were laid down in the Haçienda!   

M People

September 1992 bore witness to a Deconstruction party at the Haçienda.  Listening to the DJ sets that night demonstrated just how influential Deconstruction was, not only in the Haçienda, but throughout the North West, the UK and also Internationally!   Once again, Blog51 brings you an exclusive tape to enjoy.   Gracing the decks that night was a line up to make you wet!  Buckley, Pickering, Russ and Davoli take us on progressive house influenced Deconstructed journey!  Please feel free to click the link and download tape 2 from the night.  Sadly, I missed out on tape 1 but it is out there somewhere.  If you do have it and would like to share - it would be much appreciated!  For now, here is Tape 2!