I’ve been racking the miles up recently, pedalling up and down the West Coast of Ayrshire and beyond. When it’s wet and grey and miserable, whch is about 11/12ths of the year, it’s easy to forget that I live in a beautiful part of the world. When the sun sets over Arran and you’re on the inward trip of a 30 miler, there’s no greater view or feeling on the Earth.
I have cycling playlists set up for different journeys, mostly beat-driven pre-millenium tunes by the likes of Underworld, Daft Punk, Future Sound Of London, the odd bit of Neu and Can, you know the sort of stuff….the music that gets your cadence pushing along at the same revolutions as the music. But I was getting fed up of it all.
Much of my cycling this summer has been soundtracked by an old Balearic Beats compilation, downloaded from some forgotten corner of the internet and hidden in the depths of my iPod. Two tracks in particular have helped make the uphills and last miles home far more bearable.
It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home
Back in 1988 myself and a couple of pals went to Ibiza. This was pre-super club days, when old guys with 3 teeth and wearing bootleg ‘I Ran The World‘ t-shirts would give you free admission tickets in the street. Consequently, I have found myself in Pascha, Amnesia, Es Paradis and probably others. One memorable club had topless podium dancers gyrating on a plinth as the sun rose. But we weren’t there for the topless dancers……it was all about the music (man).
I always liked how the Balearic DJs took music from every genre and with a twist of magic could make it fit seamlessly into their set. The wee nightclub close to our hotel has probably never found itself on any list of Ibiza’s Best Clubs, but we spent half our holiday in it (which probably says more about the hipness or otherwise of me and my pals). No bigger than your average footballer’s living room, what it lacked in designer chic it more than made up for in the music played. Everything and anything was clearly a policy the DJ lived by. Here you could hear The Woodentops seamlessly followed by Chic followed by some African jit jive followed by Chris Rea followed by some anonymous Euro pop followed by Talk Talk’s Life’s What You Make It followed by Pavarotti mixed into Prince. The last record played was always The Waterboys’ Whole Of The Moon. Most forward-thinking music fans would never, ever listen to some of the rubbish played as standalone records, but as part of a whole it was somehow sensational.
Driving Away From Home appears on loads of Ibiza compilations, though I can’t actually recall ever hearing it in Ibiza at the time. It is the perfect Ibizan record – subtley beat driven, lightly scrubbed acoustic guitars, whispered, half-spoken mellow vocals and, between the keyboard melody, the harmonica refrain and the lines sung, incessantly repetitive.
It’s also the perfect cycling record. It’s about driving away from home, but it could easily be about cycling;
When I was young we were gonna move out this way, for the clean air, healthy, y’know…
Away from the factories and the smoke…
Moving away from home, without a care…
Why don’t we cross the city limit….?
Your pedalling cadence naturally hits the same rhythm as the record, not too fast, but not snail slug slow either. Some of the lyrics take on new meaning. Glasgow is mentioned, and the wee Rawhide steal (‘Move ‘em on, move ‘em out, move ‘em up!’) always makes me subconsciously increase my speed. ‘All you gotta do is put your foot down to the floor‘ they intone. I’m doin’ it, I’m doin’ it! And without a care in the world.
Driving Away From Home has been tweaked, twisted and turned inside-out by all manner of aspiring Balearic beatmasters. Here’s a couple of rarer mixes found online….
It’s Only a Dead Man’s Curve mix, vinyl crackles ‘n all;
Joe Malenda Balearic Dub mix
Les Negresses Vertes were a multi-cultural Parissien folk/punk mish mash. Coming across like Joe Strummer fronting the Pogues or a more refined Nyah Fearties perhaps, they were all flea market fire ‘n phlegm, their scratchy tunes enhanced by trombone, accordion and any other instrument that happened to be lying around as ‘record‘ was about to be pressed.
Zobi La Mouche (Zobi the fly, if my schoolboy French is correct) rattles along beautifully and, as with It’s Immaterial before it, helps boost you along those last few miles home.
Zobi La Mouche – Les Negresses Vertes
Zobi La Mouche is a different kettle of fish, but still cut from the same Ibizan cloth – super-rhythmic, repetitive, chanting vocals and frantically scrubbed acoustic guitars. Like the It’s Immaterial track, I don’t remember it being played anytime on Ibiza either…