In the early-’80s, British dance music purists listened, almost exclusively, to black American records. Not many people were into funk forged in, say, Sheffield. Undaunted, DJ/producer [a]Andrew Weatherall[/a] pushed such bands long before they were embraced by the Balearic scene.
Weatherall‘s personal account of those times, ‘Nine O’Clock Drop’, which runs from Gina X Performance to Aswad, could not be more timely. 23 Skidoo (who feature twice) are back, ESG have recently revived interest in angular punk-funk and many of Europe’s coolest acts are still fusing undervalued ’80s technology, attitude and art. Chicks On Speed, for instance, have covered both ‘Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight’ and ‘Warm Leatherette’.
Pseudish and, at times, hilariously arch (check Chris and Cosey‘s robotic ‘October (Love Song)’), ‘Nine O’Clock Drop’ nevertheless captures the restless energy of this gloriously awkward cultural spasm. 23 Skidoo, Shriekback, 400 Blows (early William Orbit) and A Certain Ratio sound stiff and cynical but desperate to loosen up, like narky punks laying-down accomplished jazz- funk basslines, while battling to coax global sounds from unreliable new technology.
The Mondays are no doubt grateful, but this is no historical footnote. There’s still something fresh and charismatic about these uncluttered, unpolished grooves.