Gerald Simpson, a Manchester Moss-side born who was working in MacDonald’s, created the defining vinyl for the UK Acid House in 1988: ‘Voodoo Ray.’ That piece of musical art made out of a simple sampler, a 303 bass synth, and a rudimentary drum machine gave him the status of technical genius. It also cursed his entire musical career.
Miscarried through the savage industry, he tried to replicate the success with “Hot Lemonade (1989),” but he suffered under-production. As a central figure of the Manchester dance scene, he worked for 808 State on ‘Pacific State‘ and remixed Stone Roses‘ ‘Fools Gold.’ Being signed by CBS, he released “Automannik” in 1990, a minimalistic work treated in the significant company standards which didn’t reach the appropriate audience, far from the taste of his developing futuristic dark sounds. Infructuous “High Life Low Profile” took Simpson back to the Hardcore, to the basics of drum programming, to create two landmarks for the irruption of drum’n’bass as a genre: “28 Gun Bad Boy” in 1992 and the definitive “Black Secret Technology.”
Released in February 1995, this quarter of a century seems not affecting it at all, keeps it inalterable, as fresh as the primary proposal: To capture the time for the foundation of a new musical paradigm, ready to grow and evolve. Nothing to add to but his own words.
Massive Attack let Mad Professor rework the Bristolians’ material on the consoles of Ariwa studio, the West Norwood (London) complex owned by the dub wizard’s alias of Neil Fraser. It was an extended agreement after being required to add additional production and mix to the ‘Sly‘ single, taken from album “Protection” (Virgin, 1994), concretely for the versions ‘Cosmic Dub‘ and ‘Eternal Feedback Dub.’ Mad Professor didn’t take the assignment regularly and created a new album. Released on February 17, 1995, “No Protection” is mostly a track by a track dub remix of the entire original master. The counterpart, the “versus” of Massive Attack‘s second album.
Under the operating Mad Professor, Massive Attack‘s “Protection,” one of the Bristol Sound‘s defining album, becomes “No Protection.” From the ten original tracks, Guyana-born Fraser chooses eight, leaving ‘Eurochild‘ and the The Door‘s ‘Light My Fire‘ live cover version aside. The recording modifies the originals heavily in an expansive slow mode, where the bass and the beat are recreationally intensified. The whole ting is another album indeed. The hazardous exposure related to the title has no harm in the result.
Mad Professor created another format for the art of mixing beyond the old of the regular version. He installed “the artist vs. the artist” way to recreate a record. “No protection” gives a comparable unit to “Protection” that feedback each other in a separate enriching form. An art act that reflected and opened doors to the way music will evolve from then on, being receptive and reserving space for the influxes, no matter the genre belonging to the creator. Dub permeates the whole electronic music spectrum nowadays. And it was a moving force since the late eighties.
As the mid-’90s run to the end of the decade, entranced in the vibrant boiling rave scene, the British black communities help to establish new electronic genres like Drum’n’bass with its syncopation of fast breakbeats and heavy basslines. Its predecessor, the evolutive Jungle, emerged from the Sound-System culture of DJs and sound engineers working at once in a thrilling succession of samples, loops, synthesized effects under the trembling bass vibe. Trip-hop is a particular variant, the distinctive and British fusion of hip-hop and electronica that, by the time, already has recognition and commercial success. The common is that the influence of dub touches all of them.
Created in the ’60s by Jamaican pioneer producers like Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock and Lee “Scratch” Perry, at the time, the style of dub has a wave of revival due to the new emerging genres. Among others, Mad Professor is one of the producers that had been working on it since the early ’80s. Expansive creativeness is the key to dub. The working dub, using the studio tools and techniques, manipulates and reshapes the recordings to another dimension of time and space. Characterized by giving special treatment to the rhythm section, dub turns a song into an instrumental, removing vocals and adding echoes and reverb effects to an airy flotant expansion. It creates space to rewrite the original; its vocal snippets, as well as parts of other compositions, fuels the progression instead.
As “American Gigolo” screened on Friday, February 1st, 1980, a phenomenal smash hit single was on the spread: ‘Call Me.’ The main theme song of Paul Schrader‘s movie soundtrack was a composition by Italian disco producer Giorgio Moroder with Deborah Harris (Blondie) on vocals, who also took the chance for writing the lyrics. The song had a diversified release in three different record companies, attending length and language used for the singing. The original and most extended version came from the original soundtrack by Polydor. Chrysalis went for the 7″ and 12″ formats. Finally, the Disco label Salsoul Records offered a Spanish version of the song with lyrics written by Buddy and Maru McCluskey. Blondie‘s front-woman claiming ‘Call Me‘ in Italian, French, and Spanish on the bridge of the original English-language version was an exultant exercise of multilingual sophistication. The song made its way up on the home lists and abroad very rapidly. It reached number one for six consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot Hundred chart until Lipps. Inc smash hit ‘Funkytown‘ knocked it off. It was time when Disco was rushing to the peak, tagged as commercial, and considered as “what people want to hear.”
After ‘Heart of Glass,’ track included in the 1978 album “Parallel Lines,” ‘Call Me,’ was the second # 1 hit single for Blondie on the domestic charts. Both runs were in disco flavor and had a growing time-line of controversy to the band. Aroused from the New York explosion of new wave, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were involved in the alternative move placed south of Washington Square as much as seduced for the funkier sound of the disco beat. Blondie revolted the CBGB‘s audience when decided to include a rendition to Donna Summer‘s ‘I Feel Love‘ at the Blitz Benefit Concert in May 1978. For the first time, the crowd split in two at the famous venue, with a majority wooing how a punk turned a new wave band dared to play a disco number. That was a daring crossing-over, but the spirit of the city had already step further in that direction, liquidizing barriers since 1976. At the time, these were the main options for the night: Southbound, straight to whitey punk-rock Saturday-night-kicks at CBGB‘s, or Mudd Club. The other one was to turn right from Christopher St. down To Hudson Square. That implied other Lower Manhattan venues, specifically, for black music lovers, way apart from the Bowery: The Larry Levan‘s temple, The Paradise Garage, unfortunately, nicknamed as the “Gay-rage.” Of course, Palladium and the infamous Studio 54, but those were on restricted access. What Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager did with their club was to normalize a living trend for avoiding prejudice, taking all kinds of options from dark no-go places to the lights of Broadway. The proposal of Le Clique, the nightly extravaganza moving from place to place, full of clowns, burlesque artists, punks, strippers, and acrobats going wild, finally took a definitive location. It improved in a Downtown old theater, restyled as a selective venue for a free-minded glamorous jam. They were “la creme” of avant-everything followed by a multitude of wannabes standing at the door. The song ‘Call Me‘ brought attention from the screen to the streets, wrapped up with images of a mistreated professional until then in movies (a male prostitute involved in a politic thriller). New wavers were to call for Disco’s demise. The music industry believed the phenomenon of Disco ought to turn into Dance, as one of revitalizing ingredients for rock, and tagged it as D.O.R. (Dance Oriented Rock). Ironically, on the same weekend ‘Call Me‘ took off for glory, Studio 54 closed down due to legal problems. In some way, ‘Call Me‘ aired what the rutilant club did for the city’s night-life, a ground-breaking for the indulgent Xing instead of parceling options over the square map. It is from where everything came. A synthetic path followed through the years by bands like Liquid Liquid, LCD Soundsystem… Blondie kept it with ‘Rapture,’ adding rap on the bridge. Another genuine N.Y.C. expression.