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This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to Music from… the Second Summer of Love – 1988/89 September 14, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Speaking of Woodstock, as was mentioned only two weeks ago, fast forward a mere twenty years – blink of an eye it seems these days, and one winds up in 1988/1989. Just in time for the ‘Second’ Summer of Love, which of course was two summers.

I went to the Hacienda in Manchester just once, in early 1987. It was alright. A bit gloomy if truth be told, with the music kind of meh. Ah, if I’d only delayed the trip by a year perhaps all would have been different.

Or maybe it wouldn’t. Because my interest in and enthusiasm for dance and then electronica didn’t really kick off for another couple of years. So possibly it would have been wasted on me. And in a way the Second Summer of Love, which for me was arguably 1989 and very much oriented around groups like the Stone Roses, and in fairness Happy Mondays, and at a push the Shamen, was much more focused on guitars than dance. I was in New York on a J1 and picked up first hand there, wasn’t able to play it until I returned home. And while I’d already heard and liked the Mondays (they were on Factory, natch!) this opened up matters yet more.

Still, that tilt towards the guitar side was a pity because the acid house Summer(s) were as interesting, if not indeed more interesting in retrospect. As a cultural phenomenon it spilled into the clubs, both legal and illegal and then outwards again, shaping music right through to the contemporary period. And certainly revisiting the music subsequently I can see and hear what I missed and the influences – on techno, IDM, big beat, trance, and on and on and on ever after. By the by Joe Smooth’s song Promised Land is a cracker – shades of New Order in there.

So perhaps it is fair to say that in a way there were parallel Summers of Love – the rave one, the guitar-pop oriented one and so forth but somehow there were cross-overs and commonalities. And if viewed as a spectrum then somehow the distance between The Stone Roses and A Guy Called Gerard was not so great if bridged by Happy Mondays. But then it’s important not to ignore the remixes – Thrashing Doves, It’s Immaterial, the Cure and many others given a gloss of house, some working brilliantly, others not so much.

Take the Shamen which moved off in the dance/electronica/techno direction fairly sharpish. Another oddity was how many of the groups involved had been around for quite some time – again The Shamen for one, who were early adopters of psychedelia/dance. James are often thrown in to the mix, quite a surprise for those of us who knew them as a spiky post-new wave outfit in the mid 1980s. The Stone Roses themselves were hardly new in 1988 having gone through an early sub-goth iteration. And even then the Stone Roses seemed to owe something to 1986/1987 era Primal Scream with their Byrd’s like take on guitar rock. But look at Primal Scream who completely reinvented themselves with the series of EPs, with one A Weatherall, that led up to Screamadelica (tellingly released in 1991 – not sure the ‘Summer’ of love lasted quite that long) – an album that surely represented the synthesis of much of the diverse strands of the approaches of 1988/1989. And those groups which managed to record longer works – 808 State spring to mind, from who A Guy Called Gerard had split – took a while to get them out. But then rave and acid house were constructed so much around the track as track, small wonder there were problems translating that to the album, and perhaps no surprise that the music itself had to modify before those able to shape full albums successfully were able to do so.

At which point perhaps everything was flagging somewhat. Or at the least changing. Rave and acid house branching off in myriad unexpected directions, electronica getting a hefty shot in the arm from dance and going to places entirely undreamed of previously. Guitar rock likewise getting a shot in the arm too, warping through Madchester/baggy and shoe gaze, before haring off towards the comfortable, familiar but diminishing returns of Britpop. It might at times seem as if little or nothing had changed, but everything had changed. And those sounds of 1988-89 still remain, still have a remarkable power, appearing in newer groups and guises.

Here’s a tiny sampling, some are cheesy, some are amazingly contemporary even thirty years later, but all are from 1987-1989…

Phuture – Acid Tracks (1987) (said to be the original of the species)

A Guy Called Gerard – Voodoo Ray

Joe Smooth – Promised Land

Lil Louis – French Kiss

Stone Roses – I Am the Resurrection

The Shamen – Synergy

Rhythim Is Rhythim – Strings Of Life

Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck

Maurice – This Is Acid (Deep Dub) 1988

808 State – Pacific State

Frankie Knuckles – Tears

It’s Immaterial – Wicked Weather for Walking (1986)

Orbital – Chime (original mix 1989 – just about!).

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