acid rain sleevenotes: Part 3



In late 1986, UK record company London Records released a compilation record called The House Sound of Chicago, which stayed in the album charts until early the following year. The first single release from the album, the Vince Lawrence, Jesse Saunders, and Farley Keith Williams collaboration Love Cant Turn Around, which used Farleys new Farley Jackmaster Funk moniker, reached number 10 in the singles chart in September. Another of the artists featured on the album, Hot Mix 5 star Steve Silk Hurley, followed this up by reaching number 1 in the singles chart in January 1987 with Jack Your Body. 

House music certainly had a foothold in the charts, yet the experience in the clubs of the UK was a very different to what was happening in Chicago.  As Marshall Jefferson remembers, when he first visited the country in early 1987 as the headline act on the Chicago House Music Tour, There was no acid house then. The first time we went, it was people in suits and ties man. For the most part, people being like, What the fuck is this? in their suits and ties and stuff.  The only place, the only club, that really got where we were coming from was the Hacienda. And there was another place – our best gig was at this place called Rock City in Nottingham. That wasnt even a proper club.

Frankie Knuckles also remembers London having not acquired a taste for house when he spent two months in the city in 1987, During that period, the most popular music in the UK was anything by James Brown. Anything by James Brown, the JB All-Stars, anybody that worked with him, if you played anything by them, it was on. House was working in really, really underground, deep, off the beaten path clubs But for the most part, you went to places like The Wag and it was anything by James Brown.

However, things were about to change. In the autumn of 1987 a number of clubs were opened and attended by DJs and clubbers who had spent the summer in Ibiza, where house music was being played alongside synth pop, industrial and pretty anything else you could dance to by DJs like Amnesias Alfredo. Wanting to carry on what they had experienced in the Balearics that summer, Danny and Jenni Rampling started Shoom, Ian St Paul opened Future with his friend and DJ Paul Oakenfold, and then as crowds swelled, the larger Spectrum. 

The following year Nicky Holloways large scale London acid house party The Trip, and in Manchester, Hot at the Hacienda opened in the summer and ushered in the second summer of love,  as parties and raves sprung up all over the country. Now not only was there was club scene,  but fashion to accompany the music and people learnt quickly, as Marshall Jefferson witnessed, When I came back 6 months later after Acid Trax had come out, thats when we found our place, T-shirts and all that shit. And I was like, What the fuck is going on here? Aciiiiiied Aciiiiiied! The genie was well and truly out of the bottle – and acid house was providing the soundtrack.

Tyree Cooper came to London in 1988, London was off the chain in 88 that mutherfucker was hot, it was really a mixed audience culture wise, Chicago is a very segregated city so depending on where you are in the city you either get all black, all white, all Hispanic or a little sprinkle of salt n pepper but in London everyone had a different way of doing things. I was so wet behind the ears, so I couldn’t tell you whether someone was on acid or whatever but the atmosphere was fucking amazing it was like being in Chicago but on a different scale. London had House music pumping out in supermarkets, hotel lobbies, that shit was everywhere and they would play all the different styles in one night. I had no idea how popular my records were in London. I went on Top of the Pops but I didn’t know shit about that. I took it seriously but very surreal, I met Donna Summer, it was real bugged out, I’m thinking to myself, Is this a real TV show – they got me on national TV?

The explosion in acid house in the UK had an impact back in Chicago, as more and more producers got acidic, Man, they caught on pretty quick when they found out money was coming in remembers Marshall Jefferson, Everybody started making acid tracks, and I was like, I dont wanna make any more. I sold my TB-303 for $1000, I only paid 150 for it so that was a good deal.

House music was now big business in Chicago but was rapidly becoming an export only business. By the early 1990s, the Warehouse was a distant memory, the Music Box had also shut down, Ron Hardy had sadly succumbed to illness and passed away, and Frankie Knuckles had packed his bags and returned to New York. But these trailblazers had made an indelible mark, helping create and nurture music that had broken out of the underground dance clubs of Chicago and spread across the world; filling clubs, theme tracking new youth movements, topping charts, and eventually, providing the soundtrack for everything from wedding receptions to the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

This compilation catalogues some of the pivotal moments on the first steps down that path. Not the music that filled the pop charts but the real deep house sound of Chicago. Music made to jack to on the sweaty dancefloors of the Windy City music that went on to conquer the world.  

Words by R$N home boy and all round good’un Monsieur Miles Simpson.

Acid Rain: Definitive Original Acid & Deep House 1985-1991 out on Harmless on August 12th.