Journey To The Centre Of House (In Search Of A Guy Called Gerald): High On Hope, MFI, The Jayne Parade, Sin; London


“OOOOOOOOOOOOH! AH! Uh! Eye! Yeeeeeeah!” Arms shoot, hands trace webs like manic spiders, irises bloom, hips crack like bone machines, legs cantilever, smoke puffs as if from a polar bear’s nostrils, strobes blink electric, and 300 mouths grin the chorus to A Guy Called Gerald’s ‘Voodoo Ray’. If it’s the weekend it must be Friday, 2am, at HIGH ON HOPE, the back-to-the-future of garage disco that turns the normally fetid London Dingwalls from rock dense to rocket unsteady.

Night number one of a continuous party to the heart of Gerald and already two things are as transparent as a glass Jacuzzi: not only is indie-rock beyond the grave and coffin its last breath but disco (House hip-hop, hip-house etc) is where the energy, style, money and thrill is.

All it takes is a different sonic vibe and suddenly Dingwalls is transformed from the drunken dungeon of the stinking leather’n’jeans rock tribe into something approaching civility, a pleasant place to take your friends and not worry whether they will be tapped for 10p or slip in a pool of cider vomit.

In the corner NME’s PH The Magnificent chats to Paul Weller whose soon to be released House track, ‘Everybody’s On The Run’, featuring the vocals of Brian Powell, is not only The Style Council’s finest moment for years but is also getting plenty of spins on London pirate stations. The shame of it is the track is to be relegated to the B-side of a reissue of ‘Long Hot Summer’ (what are the record company up to?!)

The yammer of ‘Voodoo Ray’ mantras out. The cut may have been around for months and is still yo-yoing up and down the national charts but in clubland it remains the finest call of the wild for those who like to giggle, boggle-eyed and innocent till dawn. At Dingwalls there is one exception to this.

DJ Norman Jay, who has created High On Hope as an update of New York’s Paradise Garage in its breadth of music, grabs the mic and hollers: “Here it is, the favourite noise here for over six months and still going strong.” The bass pumps like Schwarzenegger’s biceps and out emanates one of the tallest voices to come from a short person, “IIIIIII YAAAM EVERY WOOOOOMAM.” Chaka Khan, through the remix jets out the PA. The girlies in the crowd go batty.

Night number two. Outside Legends in Old Burlington Street, the crowd jostles in a friendly manner anxious to get inside MFI and have their heads swivelled off their axes by the serpentine sound slithering of DJ Judge Jules. Inside it’s strictly high-fashion to compliment the chrome-tech. A mix of turned-on Debs, lounge lizards, and club casualties prop up the exorbitantly priced bar (Perrier £1.30). Sweep straight past them on to the dancefloor and you’re off to another planet.

All ultra violet pierced by strobes with wall-hangings floating like shimmering hallucinations, Legends boasts one of the clearest PA systems and some of the most smoking sounds extant. Biddu Orchestra’s ‘Humanity’ stalks loud and proud from the speakers, closely followed by a finely fried remix of Yellow Magic Orchestra’s ‘Computer Love’ and the E Posse on the raised dais flip-out. Black dudes wearing white and sporting red, blue and green flashing lightbulbs on their heads stop on the beat and en masse start clapping their hands together double-tempo. Psychedelia for the future, in action, rarely have I seen so many people so involved in the music they are dancing to. To be cool is to be a fool. “Oooooooooooh! Ah! Uh! Eye! Yeeeeeeeah!” ‘Voodoo Ray’ comes out to play, Legends takes off and heads for the Milky Way.

Night Number Three. A House party held in East London by THE JAYNE PARADE. The place is rammed. All of NME have had their brains plugged into the CEGB and are twitching. Alan McGee and Jim Reid are playing at spacemen, mentally adrift above the shakedown dancing in the front room. Tonight’s resident DJ is Barrett Homes who has fallen in Love with another remix from the past, Carly Simon’s ‘Why?’ We fall heels-over-head for the cut.

Barrett Homes turns on the deck’s pressure hose and ‘Voodoo Ray’ swims out. Only it isn’t Gerald’s as such but Voodoo Doll’s ‘Women Break Their Men’ supposedly by Frankie ‘Bones’ and Brooklyn’s ‘A Lad Called Lenny’. East London disintegrates in an earthquake of flapping feet.

Early evening number four. SIN at The Astoria are holding an all-dayer. The crowd here are young, in their teens, and the door security is strict. Inside there are signs warning about plainclothes police being on the premises. ‘Monkey Say Monkey Do’ swings out the speakers but West Ham’s tree-hopper can’t dispel the underlying discomfort. Sin with Nicky Holloway and Pete Tong splintering the tunes is strong on beat but weak on atmosphere. It’s a bit like going to a sophisticated high school dance and being wary that you’re being scrutinised by teachers.

Four people move onstage. Tonight, at last, our pilgrimage to the centre of House and our search for A Guy Called Gerald has ended. Up to the boards goes the chap himself aided by three members of Chapters And Verse — Anis and Viv on vocals and Colin Thorpe on keyboards — break out the boogie bottle. Most of the cuts are new since Gerald thinks his work on the Hot Lemonade album is already dated.

‘Bad’, ‘Freeway’, ‘Blow Your House Down’ and ‘Emotions Electric’ follow in swift succession and all sound top. The synths gloop, the chants starts — “Ooooooooooooh! Ah! Eye! Yeeeeeeah!” and our journey to the end of the night is finishing. ‘Voodoo Ray’ moonbeams down, only there’s something wrong. Namely, it sounds crap. The reason? The band didn’t get the promised soundcheck.

It’s still the best groove around. You hear it everywhere you go. Warners apparently nearly licensed it but Gerald’s management are apparently so inept they haven’t even got him a phone for business. Meanwhile, the tune of the summer jacks up and down the national charts. Will someone please give Gerald a hand? Gone.

© Jack BarronNew Musical Express, 20 May 1989

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