Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blame It On The Boogie Part 1

Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s some kind of collective end of decade psychosis or it might just be all the economic panic that’s been happening of late, but I’m a bit out of sorts. I’ve been shaken from my work-a-day routine and pushed in the direction of some unknown future. I’ve been through some unknown futures before and faced them bravely, but perhaps I was younger then and not as bedeviled by self-doubt. I admire those who are rarely plagued by this frame of mind, but when those who show no self-doubt hit some snag or encounter some disaster I rarely want to be around for the ensuing egoist melt down. It’s just not my bag!

I’m also encountering other things that are not my bag as the decade — thankfully — fades out. One of these things is the slavish adherence to retro music styles, especially within the realm of dance music. I’ve done my fair share of frantic digging, believe you me, but the current uber fixation on disco, Italo, and in particular boogie, seems not only a little late but also a reflection of a past time, surprise, surprise!

In 1987 in London there was a similar retro fixation. It was called Rare Groove. It centered around obscure ‘70s 45s and LPs. DJs and collectors would spend silly money on the tunes, and a faithful would show up, often decked out in the then trendy '70s look (often referred to as 'radical chic'), and a lot of posing and semi dancing would ensue. Sound familiar? Even though I am up to my armpits in obscure records I have always viewed dance music as a continuum, from which you could pull some appropriate classics and mix them with stuff that was newer or brand new.

Focusing on one retro era or genre just seems redundant to me and, like London in the late ‘80s, a harbinger of the shock of the new about to hit, and what a timely day to think about this. In 1987 rare funk and hip-hop ruled the London cool dancefloors and hi energy and Euro-disco ruled clubs in general. In 2008, we have rare groove boogie and we have the high energy sound of electro, in its crunchy, glitchy, ultra white, Ed Banger derived form. In 1987 house music culture swooped down from Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Nottingham cleared all the posing, standing about, cocaine yuppie fests and bad music out of the way. And of course there was the London crew of Oakenfold, Holloway, Weatherall and Boys Own whose frequent trips to Ibiza had also shaped the musical outlook of that city's dancefloors.

Who needed to pay three hundred pounds for a funk 45 that was sampled by EPMD when you could buy a new Rhythim is Rhythim 12 inch for six quid? The new is not always good, but a glut of anything is just that, and when you’ve just lived through a decade that has been a re-run of the ‘80s do we need a last hurrah of  idolatory for that decade, and for the next one to be a re-run of the ‘90s? Maybe not, but there are some late ‘80s/early ‘90s musical attributes that might be welcome.

To be continued.


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