House
Stylistic origins: Electro, Funk, Disco, Synthpop, R&B
Cultural origins: 1980s, New York, Chicago, United Kingdom
Typical instruments: Synthesizer - Drum machine - Sequencer - Keyboard - Sampler
Mainstream popularity: Large, especially late 1980s and early 1990s United Kingdom
Derivative forms: Rave - Nu jazz - Madchester
The British connection: late 1980s - early 1990s




In Britain the growth of house can be divided around the "Summer of Love" in 1988. House had a presence in Britain almost as early as it appeared in Chicago; however there was a strong divide between the House music as part of the gay scene and "straight" music. House grew in northern England, the Midlands and the South East. Founded in 1982 by Factory Records the Hacienda in Manchester became an extension of the "Northern Soul" genre and was one of the early, key English dance music clubs. Until 1986 the club was a financial disaster, the crowds only started to grow when the resident DJs (Pickering, Park and Da Silva) started to play house music. Many underground venues and DJ nights also took place across the U.K. like for instance the private parties hosted by an early Miss Moneypenny's contingent in Birmingham and many London venues. House was boosted in the UK by the tour in the same year of Knuckles, Jefferson, Fingers Inc. (Heard) and Adonis as the DJ International Tour. Amusingly, one of the early anthemic tunes, "Promised Land" by Joe Smooth, was covered and charted within a week by the Style Council. The first English House tune came out in 1986 - "Carino" by T-Coy. Europeans embraced house music, and began booking legendary American House DJs to play at the big clubs, such as Ministry of Sound, whose resident, DJ Harvey brought in Larry Levan.

The underground house scene in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and London were also provided with many underground Pirate Radio stations and DJ's alike which helped bolster an already contagious, but otherwise ignored by the mainstream, music genre.

One of the earliest and most influential UK house and techno record labels was Network Records (otherwise known as cool cat records) who helped introduced Italian and U.S. dance music to Britain as well as promoting select UK dance music acts.

But house was also developing on Ibiza. A hippy stop-over and a site for the rich in the 1970s by the mid-1980s a distinct Balearic mix of house was discernible. Clubs like Amnesia where DJ Alfredo was playing a mix of rock, pop, disco and house fueled by Ecstasy, began to have an influence on the British scene. By late 1987 DJs like Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling were bringing the Ibiza sound to UK clubs like Shoom in Southwark (London), Heaven, Future and Purple Raines Spectrum in Birmingham. But the "Summer of Love" needed an added ingredient that would again come from America.

In America the music was being developed to create a more sophisticated sound, moving beyond just drum loops and short samples. New York saw this maturity evidenced in the slick production of disco house crossover tracks from artists such as Mateo & Matos. In Chicago, Marshall Jefferson had formed the house 'super group' Ten City (from intensity), demonstrating the developments in "That's the Way Love Is". In Detroit there were the beginnings of what would be called techno, with the emergence of Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Atkins had already scored in 1982 with Cybotron and in 1985 he released Model 500 "No UFOs" which became a big regional hit, followed by dozens of tracks on Transmat, Metroplex and Fragile. One of the most unusual was "Strings of Life" by Derrick May. The NME described it as "George Clinton and Kraftwerk stuck in an elevator". It was a darker, more intellectual strain of house that followed its own trajectory. "Techno-Scratch" was released by the Knights Of The Turntable in 1984 which had a similar techno sound to Cybotron and is possibly where the term techno originated, although this is generally credited to Atkins, who borrowed the term from the phrase "techno rebels" which appeared in writer Alvin Toffler's book Future Shock (see Sicko 1998).

The records were completely independent of the major record labels and the parties which the tracks were played at never played any commercial pop music.

The combination of house and techno came to Britain and gave House a phenomenal boost. A few clubs began to feature specialist House nights - the Hacienda had "Hot" on Wednesday from July 1988, 2,500 people could enjoy the British take on the Ibiza scene, the classic "Voodoo Ray" by A Guy Called Gerald (Gerald Simpson) was designed for the Hacienda and Madchester. Factory boss Tony Wilson also promoted acid house culture on his weekly TV show. The Midlands also embraced the late 80s House scene with many underground venues such as multi storey car parks and more legal dance stations such as the Digbeth Institute (now the 'Sanctuary' and home to Sundissential).

 

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