Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Crowd pleasing

Wedding DJ time again last weekend. Or more precisely wedding dj while the main hires want a break. So once again not an opportunity to squeeze Isolee and Squarepusher into a set where Jeff Beck and Come on Eileen are expected, but at least it does allow for a condensed mix concentrating on just classics; the all killer no filler axiom. It’s just how you link them.

The early bouts were funky soul as generically requested: Trent D’Arby’s Dance Little Sister (personal favourite of the Face-era ego); Otis’ take on Satisfaction; Respect. They were followed up with a few relatively offbeat ones, such as Kinks’ You Really Got Me. The linking together is actually irrelevant, I soon realise: a wedding dancefloor is full of all-dayer-inebriates who crave instant pleasure, seeing the dj playing the role of a Magic FM dj. Just play me the hits and leave any authoring of one’s musical programme well alone. Accordingly the djs’ mixer was your basic two channels with no low, mid and top range knobs to twiddle.

Of course the dj as the star does have some currency even in this basic stick-‘em-on role. You’re God like Danny Rampling @ Shoom until something fucks with the pattern of three minutes of fun, then change. I found this out to my cost when Le Freak wouldn’t play, dirty record and needle stalling the system. Howls and derision when a minute ago I was the pied piper. I panicked for a moment then grabbed Van Helden’s You Don’t Know Me and we were back on the train. It messed the generic path up a little. But soon I was spinning to some delight my mandatory plays for these type of parties – Human League’s Keep Feeling Fascination, the Love and Dancing Dare remix album does genuinely never leave my bag (best money ever spent in Reckless); Madonna’s Get Into the Groove; Inner City’s Big Fun; Chaka Khan’s Feel for You. 80s synthetic joy.

So this was very much like doing the birthday parties at hired basement venues – bit of funk, but of electronic, bit of an acknowledged classic in an easy-going recognitive stew. Certainly Mark and Zoe, who were last seen raving their faces off after the McClintock screening, set up the room in the most dj-centric way I’ve ever seen for a wedding. Pity I couldn’t deliver them Green Velvet’s La La Land, but I found out late the do was only vinyl.

The most unusual non-Wedding Parties Anything tunes from me were Bizarre Inc’s Playing With Knives, especially for Zoe. It’s one that regularly comes out while I am mixing at home – still love the Quadrant Park mx’s clinical techno ferocity in the build-up, and few tunes beat the Italo piano breakdown and subsequent sweeps for exhilaration. If the rumours are true that it is a favoured track for Klaxons-neo-ravers then its second life is well deserved (no matter how many times it was appropriated before then). I kept up the vibe with another tune that wasn’t hardcore from the hardcore era with Crystal Waters' Gypsy Woman, though the mix was minging.

Gripes were only a few from the main DJs, one for turning up the basic mixer too loud so distorting the sound. But after about an hour or so my job was done and I didn’t feel the urge to get the ladrock out as a back-up. The girls were ruling this rural Cambridgeshire floor, although I’d also missed the opportunity, after Armand, to push on with late-90s funky house. I stood down on Mary J’s Family Affair, without so much as an inclination to play the near-obligatory Blue Monday.

The two standouts from the tag team’s set thereafter were Strings of Life and Definition of Sound’s Wear Your Love Like Heaven. Nice to hear the latter’s, again early 90s, full of beans, wide-eyed hip-pop with generous use of Donovan sample, while I can’t even guess how many second lives Derrick May’s sonic evangelism has gone through. I often wonder why this very Detroit strings-and-piano number (a big, big hit on its first re-release with the original quavers) remains so popular with the mainstream house set, who usually favour less of an aching with their emotional placebo. But there’s something so timeless in those great rushes and multiple heart tuggings that it can come round and round again and keep instilling so much hope and joy. And still fit in well with the rudimentary imperatives (just look at the song titles) of the others.
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