Today Up On Christmachine Audio Reference Music Server :
In the 90’s I spent most of my time living between California, Boston, Iceland, and England. It was an amazing time as I would take short trips around the world between tours as well as hit up as many festivals and shows, representing all types of music. During this time I was touring with rock bands and on the side was living the life on the Electronic Music Train. I was really into Techno, early Trance, Happy Hardcore, Drum and Bass, and Jungle…which I had already experienced in the US underground but was taking things to a whole new level in the UK and Europe, as it was already huge there in popular culture. It would not hit big in the US for another 2 decades, and it was magical period as I have already said.
During the decade I was fortunate to attend festivals such as the Notting Hill Carnival, Reading, Glastonbury, Love Parade, I Love Techno, Gatecrasher, and Sonar / Clubs and Illegal raves featuring Carl Cox, John Digweed and Sasha, such as Shelly’s and Renaissance and finishing out the Decade with Oakenfold’s residencies at Cream and Home. It was quite a blur but one thing that was interesting beyond laying some of the groundwork for all that dance music is today, It was the drug gangs. I had encountered it in the US quite often but in the UK clubs were always getting shut down due to rival drug gangs shootouts during party’s, fighting over territory.
The music was absolutely insane, The Prodigy was a huge act at the time as where the Chemical Brothers (At that time known as the Dust Brothers). The scene was very intense and new, the danger even adding to the excitement. Something else notable from the time was, I remember people telling me that dance nights were not to be referred to as “Raves”. All the cool people referred to them as “Parties”, if you said raves you were considered not in the know. Funny an silly that! You had to be in the know at the time because there was little internet, it was not usually till the day…even short as a few hours before, where the location of the party would be released and spread like wildfire from person to person throughout the country (outside of the clubs and festivals that is).
Besides all the powerful chemicals that were making the rounds, my three favorite things that I Loved about England was I could walk into any pharmacy and buy amazing purple flavoured codeine cough syrup that did not contain any other health damaging drugs like paracetamol/ tylenol (APAP) or Ibuprofin (NSAIDS). Straight up codeine with one added benefit it was in a liquid suspension with Chloroform as a stabilizer solvent, so every time you took a drink (known as Sizzurp/ today with Promethazine in the US today) you could inhale the gas every time you opened the bottle and gave you a Nitrous type high. Every time you twist the cap it would sound like it does opening a beer and that was glorious gas. My other two things that I loved every day was something called “Squash” it is a concentrated form of juice and my favorite was a “berry current drink” called “Ribena”. Ribena was perfect with the codeine. The last thing was a high dose orange flavoured vitamin fizzy tablet (Dropped in water) called “Berrocca” (Hangover helper). My goodness us Americans do not know what we’re missing as we did not have the availability of these amazing products. I would stuff my suitcase full of these three things to bring back to the US…wunderbar!
Anyhow the reason I started with all that was to set the scene as to my mind frame and environment at that time, but in this foreign bliss I would come to find my guilty pleasure by accident and it was an American export that I would come to love in the Lakes District of North England. An unlikely place to find and fall in love with an American product.
So at the time I would frequent any independent music stores off the beaten path in places like Carlisle, Windermere, Whitehaven, and Maryport, to find any used electronic CD’s and I was able to get quite a collection. One time however I walked into such a store in Co*ckermouth and as I was browsing I noticed the owner was on old geezer playing vinyl on his turntable. Nothing strange there as vinyl was still popular in the UK. At some point a most heavenly music touched my soul and pricked my ears to stop what I was doing and listen. It was the voice…the voice was so heavenly, gripping, and vulnerable. The melody was something as well as it reached deep into my soul. After listening for a few minutes I called over the used record bins to the owner and asked him, “Who is this you’re playing, this record.” He looked at me funny, I’ll never forget that look, “It’s The Carpenters.” At that moment I thought my head was going to explode…I hated The Carpenters. WTF! I kept listening and at some point he changed the record…I did not ever remember hearing a Carpenters song and liking it. I even thought I knew the sound of Karen’s voice, how could I not know who that was…I know The Carpenters.
Anyway I was still stunned, and I bought a great BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix Release CD with mixes from Carl Cox, Pete Tong, and Judge Jules, then left the store. I emphasize that I was so stunned because I usually would ask the name of the song and the name of the record so I could get a hold of it later. I remember the moment so well for some reason, I thought to myself I’ll figure it out when I get home, what that song was. How hard would it be to find that song again, my parents had some Carpenters CD’s. So a few times over the years I would listen to The Carpenters to try and find that song. I went through all the vinyl rips and CD’s of theirs and over time I really fell in love with their music though at times it was very camp…I still fell in love with it.
No matter where I looked, through their whole catalog, I could not find that song. Karen Carpenters voice was so haunting and enveloped me and I became a fanatic. I liked them even more when I saw video and read their story of how Karen was playing the drums on the albums…she was also a bad ass musician. WTF! The reason why she often did not play drums live, like she wanted to, was because the record companies forbade it because they thought women should not be seen playing the drums. WTF! Karen was a kick ass drum player while she sang like a tortured angel. Sorry for focussing on Karen, Richard, but it’s time someone said something to end the thought of The carpenters being uncool. I am ending that right now here on my website. Next time you hear The carpenters think for yourself that the person singing is playing jazz fills on the drums. Yes your head will explode at the thought as well.
So not only is this a social commentary on the dangers of pigeonholing any type of music, but also the mantra for this website. That is in essence why I’ll post about Slayer next to Diplo next to the Carpenters because good music is good music. If you do not like one thing talked about here, wait a minute and the next article, video, or playlist will have something you like. I’ve had people leave this site never to return because I write about a metal band and all their into at the moment is EDM. I’m asking everyone to keep an open mind and listen to new things. All of the music we listen to has roots in all that came before it.
The Carpenters story is pretty sad and amazing at the same time. It is our history as well. The Carpenters also have the distinction of having the only song ever that I have not been able to pin down after listening to it. What I would give to have Shazam at the time. I can live with never finding it because music as you know should be the continual search for the best, that which knocks you off your feet. That which is an eternal greatness that you think you continually reach, always left wanting. Always, never satisfied and always wanting more, yet never reaching that which is perfection. As we all know, nothing in our world ever reaches absolute perfection and that is what makes this journey all it’s worth.
Thanks for reading.
Cheers and Bless Bless!
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