45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 2)

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.

SWC

 

DANCE MOTHERFUCKER DANCE

There are some pieces of music which I can’t ever listen to without recalling an image or images from a live TV performance going through my head. Some examples include:-

The Police performing Can’t Stand Losing You on The Old Grey Whistle Test when Sting twitched his way through the song as the sweat from his forehead went into his eyes which had already been inflamed from an exploding can of hairspray (which is why he was wearing large and hideous sunglasses)

The Associates not taking Top of The Pops seriously as Alan Rankine broke off bits of a full-size chocolate guitar and gave it away to members of the audience as Billy Mackenzie tried not to corpse as he mimed to 18 Carat Love Affair

The Redskins introducing a striking miner live on The Tube as they played the intro to Keep On Keepin’ On, not realising that, by some strange quirk of fate the mic that the miner was speaking into wasn’t working and the millions of viewers didn’t hear a word

The Smiths on Top of The Pops for William It Was Really NothingJohnny had Elvis Costello‘s guitar and the frontman stripped off mid-song.

The Smiths (again) on Whistle Test, making a return to our screens after a long absence and unveiling Bigmouth Strikes Again

Radiohead on Later offering up the first ever rendition of Paranoid Android

There are also some songs which I can’t listen to without picturing the promo video, with this being a prime example:-

mp3 : Fatboy Slim – Praise You

It’s frightening to realise we are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of this wonderful piece of film making.

And to think that it sort of came about by accident.

Norman Cook had wanted Spike Jonze to come up with a concept and direct a video for The Rockafeller Skank but the filmmaker hadn’t been able to find the time. As a way of saying sorry, Jonze sent Cook a video of him goofing around to Skank which led to them hatching the idea for the follow-up single.

The fictional Torrance Community Dance Group, led by Jonze, turned up without any permission at all with the intention of performing an outlandish dance to Praise You outside a cinema in Los Angeles as patrons queued up to get in, with the whole thing captured on film. It was an era when flash-mobbing events of this type were incredibly rare and part of the fun comes from watching the bemused and befuddled reaction of the cinema goers. It’s also worth recalling that nobody in the queue would have known anything about the song as it hadn’t yet been released when the promo was shot.

By the time the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards came around the song had reached #1 in the UK and provided a breakthrough for Fatboy Slim in the USA. The video took home three prizes – Breakthrough Video, Best Direction and Best Choreography, every one of them fully deserved.

Here’s the two other tracks which came with the single:-

mp3 : Fatboy Slim – Sho Nuff
mp3 : Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank (Mulder’s Urban Takeover Mix)

And here’s the song which was sampled for the single:-

mp3 : Camile Yarbrough – Take Yo’Praise

JC