Category Archives: History

As Daft Punk’s album Homework celebrates it’s 25th birthday, spare me the bother of joining the hysteria surrounding the French duo…

The whole dance music world seems to come out in a bizarre display of idolatry whenever Daft Punk are mentioned. The French duo, consisting of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, were together from 1993 until February last year.

And for reason unknown, the dance music press seems to eulogise them. It appears that doing their job of trying to find a new album destined to be tomorrow’s classic is too much hard work – hence one reason why this band gets promoted hard. Anyone holding a dissenting opinion would never get their opinion into the hallowed pages of Mixmag, for example.

Their split last year wasn’t exactly sadly received by this blog at the time. And nearly a year later, I still feel much the same way. Like many, I was a fan of Daft Punk’s music in the 90s and early 2000s – but their later output beared almost no resemblance to it. And I don’t think they offered anything particularly distinctive during this period.

To be fair, Homework is a good album. I did have a copy of it in the past, and I readily admit I enjoyed it. However, some of the responses are just bizarre – including the curious claim that Daft Punk had roots in Chicago. The two men were actually born in Paris and certainly cite Chicago artists like Paul Johnson as inspiration – but the idea this means the band has roots in the city is plainly absurd.

And whilst I have no problem in celebrating an album’s birthday, I do pose one question. Which album being released in 2022 will we still be listening to come 2047? I only have to do another 25 years of blogging to find that out…

Way to make a guy feel old just as the weekend’s getting started! Frankie Knuckles would have been 67 years old this week – and which BBC radio station mentioned this? Radio 2…

If you go back far enough into the history of house music, you’ll eventually come across a time when the BBC were quite hesitant to get involved with the scene. In the UK, house music saw its first exposures to British audiences on pirate radio – I believe the first show to play it in Britain was The Jackin’ Zone, hosted by Jazzy M from London in 1985.

The BBC’s youth orientated Radio 1 didn’t get behind it until 1987, when Jeff Young was hired from their local London station to do a show called The Big Beat. But they didn’t get fully behind house music until January 1991, when Pete Tong arrived at the station with The Essential Selection – a show conceptualised by music journalist Eddie Gordon.

I sometimes forget that house music isn’t in its infancy anymore. The era where David Morales, Frankie Knuckles and so forth dominated the airwaves are long gone. House music’s 40th birthday will be in just a few years time. So there was always the question of how things would be treated as time went on.

Had he still been with us, Frankie Knuckles would have turned 67 years old on Tuesday. But the occasion wasn’t commemorated at all by Radio 1 – the station made no reference to it at all on their social media platforms. And as far as I’ve been able to establish, it wasn’t mentioned on the air either. Do they suspect Radio 1’s target audience of 15 to 29 year olds wouldn’t be familiar with who he was?

Instead, it was left to Radio 2, who published this

When I was growing up in the 90s, I used to think Radio 2 was a station for over the hill types. And now, not only do I listen to Radio 2 in the car, but I see Frankie Knuckles being honoured by the station.

I must be getting old. Happy weekend…

After Defected announce Phase 2 of their Croatia festival lineup, Danny Tenaglia’s appearance is confirmed – but whatever happened to his vow to “resign” from DJing a decade ago?

Danny Tenaglia was, for many years, one of the more hardworking DJs in the house music world. Like many of his era, he was a fan of doing sets that were around 412 hours long, and his output in the studio was just as prolific too. And for a while in the 1990s, he was also one of the names on speed dial at record labels looking for remixes of their next pop hit.

He’s still around today, of course – and over the weekend, Defected confirmed he was joining the likes of Carl Craig, Low Steppa and the rest at their festival in Croatia this year. As part of this carefully choreographed blitz of publicity, label boss Simon Dunmore posted – not for the first time – about how he tried back in 2007 to get him onto their own House Masters series.

It never happened, of course. Quite why remains unknown – although if Tenaglia finally signs up and agrees to be part of the project in 2022, I just hope Defected doesn’t order too many T-shirts this time around. However, those people who have been keeping an eye on Tenaglia over the past few years might feel somewhat confused as to what’s going on.

Back in 2012, Tenaglia announced in a lengthy and terribly rambling Facebook post that he was “resigning” – his own word, not mine – from the world of DJing. Aside from one other gig which he’d already committed to, he’d basically had enough. The news was reported far and wide – Australian news outlets covered it, and it was even mentioned on Defected’s website.

Judging by the fact he continues to DJ to this day, I can only guess his resignation wasn’t accepted…

A record of real historical significance? Frankie Knuckles’ unreleased song “I Want The Love Of My Own” tackled sexuality at a time of AIDS and social change – but there’s still no sign of its release…

Back on Friday, this blog published an article about a birthday party for Frankie Knuckles taking place in the city of Chicago today. As a footnote to the article, I commented on the release of “I Want The Love Of My Own”, a Knuckles song recently unearthed from the archives. It was originally due to emerge in October 2021, but three months later remains unavailable.

DJ International have sadly not yet replied to my email asking what’s happening with the release – but I did take a look at their website. On it, there’s an article/press release all about the song – and there are some interesting little nuggets of information in there.

For example, it mentions the track comes from “the vaults of those legendary early studio sessions of the 1980s that are understood to be the only remaining unreleased Knuckles tracks”. This appears to verify a claim made by long-time friend and collaborator Eric Kupper that Knuckles only had a  small number of records which never saw the light of day.

It also says “the song is extremely interesting as it’s rumoured to be performed by two men juxtaposing intertwining question and answer male vocals, toying with sexuality itself”. If this is true, this is not only a piece of history – it could also be said to be one of the most forward-looking recordings in house music. And I don’t make that claim lightly.

Just think back to that era. As a straight man, I cannot comment on what it’s like to be gay – but I can say what I see when I look back at the 1980s. A decade where gay men were vilified and ostracised due to the rise of HIV/AIDS. Today, this virus might be better understood – but a huge number of men suffered terribly because the world didn’t understand it better in the 80s.

And far too many paid for that ignorance with their lives. Amidst this backdrop, this might explain why this song never saw the light of the day at the time. Speaking to a few people who knew Knuckles personally, I understand he was a man who was always comfortable within his own sexuality, even in the difficult times of the 1980s.

Did Knuckles think it wasn’t worth even trying to persuade DJ International to release this? Was the label offered it, only to respond with a categorical no? Was another label offered the opportunity to sign the song? So many questions – and the one man who could definitively answer those questions is no longer with us. How sad…

This Sunday – just two days before he would have had his 67th birthday – Frankie Knuckles will be celebrated in his native Chicago… let’s see this more often!

House music is a curious old beast when it comes to its roots, isn’t it? We all know – well, except if you’re David Guetta – that house music mostly originates from the cities of Chicago, Detroit and New York in the USA. Yet all three cities have their issues when it comes to celebrating their heritage and keeping the culture alive.

To be fair, this isn’t entirely the fault of the scene. The rise of, shall we say, more right-wing leaning politicians who use nightclubs as the equivalent of a political pinãta is sometimes to blame. But I firmly believe cities like Chicago should be proud of their heritage and should be unashamedly forward when it comes to celebrating it.

Which is why I entirely welcome the news that Metro and Smartbar in the city are being taken over this weekend for the For Frankie event. Taking place on Sunday 16th January, it’s basically a birthday party for the man himself – who would be turning 67 years old next Tuesday if he were still with us on this mortal realm.

As far as I’m concerned, things like this need to become annual events. Aside from massively benefitting the profile of the Frankie Knuckles Foundation, this helps keep memories fresh and might even invigorate the next generation from Chicago to create new moments. Heck, I’d even insist Chicago build a big statue of the man himself if I had my way…

Since we’re on the subject of Frankie Knuckles, where is the release of “I Want The Love Of My Own”? DJ International claimed the unreleased song was unearthed on a two-inch reel-to-reel tape and would be released in October last year. This hasn’t happened – and I’m not entirely sure why. DJ International have been contacted for comment…

But I thought you said we shouldn’t comply? Danny Rampling’s hypocrisy is clear once more as he’s due to perform in Brighton nightclub where Covid passes will be enforced…

From time to time, Danny Rampling’s stance on the pandemic bumps into this thing called reality. Such as the moment his ramblings on the current health situation clash with his real life obligations – such as his obligation to earn money so that he gets to tweet from a very nice house as opposed to a box at the side of the road.

Hence why the likes of vaccine passports and such were going to cause a problem for Rampling. He takes a strong stance, urging people not to comply with restrictions and rules put in place to slow the virus down. Now, this blog is a fan of freedom of speech – and Rampling does indeed hold the right to have a different opinion to me.

But when you take such a stringent angle, questions are bound to be asked at some point. Such as when your views on vaccine passports mix with the need to earn some money. You see, Rampling is appearing at Brighton’s Concorde2 next month – and since last month, they’ve had to enforce English Covid passports rules…

Unless Rampling is a massive hypocrite, he is presumably unvaccinated against Covid-19 – so logically, he’ll therefore be gaining entry by taking a negative lateral flow test before driving down the M23 to Brighton. But it does mean that Rampling ultimately has to comply with the same system which he’s protesting fervently about on social media.

It also results in him having to promote this event on his social media pages, thus encouraging his followers and fans to comply with the rules he spends his days telling them not to obey. Why no one on his timeline calls him out for this isn’t hard to explain – the subsequent pile-on of moonbeams would put many off.

But the failure of the dance music press on this blatant hypocrisy is more puzzling. Unless, of course, the rumours about a number of prominent writers and journalists in it being anti-vaxxers are true. Heaven forbid…

As Kym Sims announces she’s “officially retired” from the music business – whilst leaving the door ajar saying she can “pick and choose what gigs are fit for me” – will we ever see the likes of her in house music again?

Think of the name Kym Sims. I know who she is, but even if you don’t, you’ll almost certainly know “Too Blind To See It”, a song which she released all the way back in 1991. But she’s no one-hit wonder and had a number of other hits including “Take My Advice” in 1992, “We Gotta Love” from 1996 and her most recent hit “Turn It Up”.

Well, if you’ve ever wondered whether it’s possible for someone in house music to announce their retirement, Sims showed us on New Year’s Day that – yes, it apparently does happen. At the not very old age of 55, she’s decided she’s “retreating” from the music business. Declaring “I got what I asked for from God, which was a recording career”, she confirms that “there is no more left for me to do in that area”.

And whilst all commitments already made will be honoured, Sims has basically said she’s out of the business. Although possibly not entirely – she makes a remark in her statement saying she can now “pick and choose what gigs I see that are a fit for me”. So we might not necessarily have seen the last of Kym Sims…

Having spoken to a number of her friends over the past few years, they describe to me a person who embraced them with open arms. She is someone they say isn’t afraid to work with new talent and to call things out as she sees them – and one of the most sincere people they’ve come across in a business notorious for its fakes and charlatans.

From a house music point of view, however, this announcement just leaves me feeling a little flat. During the 1990s, strong voices on house songs were very much present and supply was plentiful – but who is there today to carry on the baton? Where is the next 24-year old whose ready to take house music by storm?

I’m certainly not implying there’s no talent in house music today – anyone familiar with my own productions will know I’ve been humbled to work with some incredible singers and songwriters. I just wonder whether, with the way the music industry works these days, will we ever have another Kym Sims?

And if we do, will anyone play her music long enough for us to notice her?

In Soviet Russia, the record plays you! How bootleggers used to get around a ban on Western music in the communist state by cutting records onto used X-ray scans – just don’t ask about the sound quality…

If there’s one thing which will always get my interest at Amateur’s House, it’s history. Because whilst people may disagree over stories currently in the news, they tend to disagree even more when interpreting historical events. Wonderful for a mischief maker like me!

Time was that I used to receive a large amount of Woolworths vouchers for Christmas. The majority of these were subsequently used for buying music – this, of course, was back in the days when obtaining music required time, effort and money. You needed time to go to the shops, the effort to get there and the money to spend when you arrived.

And compilations weren’t exactly cheap. Most albums at my local Woolies cost £15. That bought you somewhere between 35 and 45 songs, depending on what you listened to. It’s not like these days where you can just go to a streaming site and listen to whatever you want – you actually had to make an effort!

But at least there was no legal barrier to stop us buying them. The citizens of Soviet Russia enjoyed no such pleasures. The music they could listen to was controlled by the state – anything perceived as even remotely Western was banned. However, there was a way around this if you knew the right people.

It was actually possible to obtain music illegally thanks to X-ray scans. What used to happen was people would take old X-ray scans from hospitals and cut them into the shape of a 7 inch disc. For the hole in the middle, it was simply burned into the “disc” with a cigarette – which were never banned by the Soviet regime. A specialist machine could then press music onto the scan, creating grooves.

The sound quality of the resulting X-ray vinyl was terrible – but when it was a choice between listening to a poor quality version or no version at all, people soon knew which was their preference. They were also cheap and easy to dispose of, making it harder for the authorities to detect.

Each scan would play only a handful of times – a particularly good pressing might get you around 12 listens. And people complain these days if they have to do a Google search to find a song. They don’t know they’re born…

The Six On Saturday column returns in its regular slot next week.