Friday, October 30, 2009

Here's Johnny!

What better way to kick off this little blog than with a tape that had a wonderfully profound effect on me.  On the June long weekend in 1995 I was bouncing away to some serious hardcore at a rave deep in Western Sydney.  Hocus Pocus, most only famous for their ARIA number one hit "Here's Johnny" were billed to play but, as was not uncommon for raves at the time, never showed up.

Back on the East side of town at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art there was a markedly different party going on featuring legendary New York house DJ Johnny Vicious.  Despite my love of all things hard and fast, I was just beginning to flirt with house music and it was this tape, picked up from Music Zone in Chatswood a few months later, that showed me just how amazing, and amazingly diverse, house music could be.

Ironically, this set kicks off with  "Here's Johnny" but a strange, almost beatless version that's somehow even 'harder' than the original without being recognisably 'hardcore'.  This perverse opening sets the tone for something big as the set morphs into a crazy journey through the predominant house styles of the day - US garage, progressive, 'handbag', even trip hop.

For the first hour or so the set is truly flawless.  Tracks are ordered to ramp up the tension, starting minimally, almost acidy, then building ever so slowly until Vicious, like a bomb, drops an anthem that provides an ultimate hands-in-the-air release.  This formula is repeated a few times throughout the hour, then kind of dissipates at the final peak into a joyously laid-back comedown.

The last half-hour or so of side B is a fairly formulaic mix of anthems that I suspect is not Johnny Vicious at all. (Perhaps it's the DJ who followed?)  The mixing style is much more 'who cares' and the remainder of the tape just seems to lack the charisma of that first hour.  But that first

Download Johnny Vicious Live in Sydney Side A
Download Johnny Vicious Live in Sydney Side B