A GUEST SERIES
44. Everybody Needs A 303 – Fatboy Slim (1996 Skint Records)
Released in February 1996 (Reached Number 191)
Re-released and remixed in October 1997 (Reached Number 34)
Back in 1996 I was a student and I was editing the music pages of the student rag. I used to get sent a bunch of stuff every week and I would trudge back to my digs and spend three hours listening to it all. One week I walked into the room set aside for the paper to find a bloke in there waiting for me. He was called Ben and he worked for one of the promotion companies that supplied the records for me to review.
He handed me a 12” record and said that this was “The next big sound, dirty acid house-y dance music”.
He then vanished as quickly as he had appeared. Like a goatee bearded spectre.
Back then of course, Britpop was still just about king and I used to strut around the mean streets of Guildford in my skinny fit Salad Tshirt, so my colours were firmly tied to that mast, but something was happening to music. Indie music had started a passionate and potentially damaging affair with dance music, and the result was music that had beats that were massive and this noise that sort of twitched and bleeped like a demented warthog in a bath. But I knew relatively little about it. Pretty much the only dance record I owned in 1996 was ‘Leftism’ by Leftfield and I had no idea what a 303 was, I thought it was the road to Devon.
So I stuck this record on, poured myself a cup of tea and waited.
It turns out Ben was right because ‘Everbody Needs A 303’ blew my tiny mind. A staggering twitchy, bleeping acid house ode to the TB-303 synthesizer (I looked it up in my Penguin Big Book of Music) that also samples Edwin Starr. The beats kind of thump against the side of your speakers, the 303 squelched and chirps along getting faster and faster and more distorted as it goes.
I rarely dance, even back then, when I sort of could, I considered myself way too cool to throw shapes on a dancefloor (I mean I was a twat, let’s make that clear). But this record made me want to dance. I wanted to bop along to these filthy beats.
The next week I was due to DJ at University’s ‘indie club’ a Thursday shindig in a basement and when the floor was busy I chucked it on. It was bedlam and indeed the Next Big Sound.
The 12” I mentioned earlier had this on the B Side –
Going Out Of My Head
Not sure if this was actually on the official release or not, but it’s still a tune.
Oh and one for all the fact fans out there. The first ever record to reach the UK Top Ten that featured the use of a 303 was this
Rip It Up – Orange Juice.