Gone but not forgotten

Music’s Not For Everyone

Pioneering DJ and soundscaper Andrew Weatherall left us today. A quick look in the more esoteric corners of my record collection will find any number of 12″ singles, CD singles and compilations stamped with his unmistakable sonic signature; dark and dubby and as wildly creative as the hair on his face. Weatherall-enhanced records always grew on you (correction – still grow on you), revealing hidden layers with each new rotation, a sound that was simultaneously out of time and ahead of time.

It was Weatherall who taught Primal Scream that their records should be marathons rather than sprints, and he transformed them from a sniggered-at Asda-priced Guns ‘n Roses into a genre-hopping behemoth, welding MC5 chants to acid house beats to gospel samples to tripped-out, whacked-out house, sometimes within the same track. Before the release of Screamadelica, I’d wager that most folk who approached music from my stubborn and blinkered post-teenage point of view – guitars are where it’s at, dance music’s all nonsense, blah blah blah- would never have heard of Weatherall. That it’s now Primal Scream’s accepted era-defining classic is due mainly to the producer’s ability to channel the group’s punk spirit with the ‘new’ sound pumping out of the clubs. Proof, should it be needed, that the sum of a classic album is even greater than its constituent parts.

It was his magnificent melding of loose and tumbling Stonesy piano and crashing guitars on Loaded that signalled a brave new age in indie guitar music. It was now OK to tuck your melodies into a bed of beats. It was perfectly acceptable to loosen and lengthen your track to the point where it bore no resemblance to its original form. It was suddenly de rigeur to have a Weatherall or Two Lone Swordsmen remix on your single. Acts as wide and varied as Happy Mondays, Six By Seven, Tracey Thorn and Wooden Shjips have all benefited from the magic beats and bloops he sprinkled on top. A Weatherall remix, to use that hackneyed old term, rocked, but more importantly, they rolled.

Wooden ShjipsCrossing (Weatherall remix)

Bocca JuniorsRaise (63 Steps To Heaven)

His production alongside Heller and Farley on Bocca JuniorsRaise (63 Steps To Heaven), all Hanna-Barbera sampled starts, stolen Thrashing Doves piano loops and monster beats still sends the hairs on the back of my neck tingling in anticipation. Was it really played ahead of the Stone Roses gargantuan Glasgow Green show in 1990? I like to tell myself it was. I have some sort of warped memory of going bonkers to it at the time.

His thumping mix of Primal Scream‘s Uptown is a string-driven, disco-infused variant on The Clash’s Rock The Casbah going 15 rounds with Augustus Pablo and Elecronic’s Getting Away With It. Absolutely essential, if you listen to just one Weatherall remix this week…

Primal ScreamUptown (Andrew Weatherall Long After The Disco Is Over mix)

Sometimes, he beefed up the original record to the point where the Weatherall remix became the accepted version. My Bloody Valentine‘s Soon would be a case in point.

Sometimes, he’d take a tiny part of the original tune and steer it towards uncharted territory. The new shapes he twists from St Etienne‘s Only Love Can Break Your Heart were a step too far for these ears at the time. In the intervening years though, this slowcoach has caught up and jumped aboard.

Occasionally, the finished result bore no resemblance at all to the original record. His production on his remix of Flowered Up‘s Weekender, all 16+ minutes of it, is sensationally up there and out there, yet if the artist and title wasn’t on the label, I’ve no doubt that even the keenest of trainspotters would struggle to identify it.

Flowered UpWeatherall’s Weekender (Audrey Is A Little Bit More Partial)

An eclectic, catch-all artist – his setlists read a bit like a random John Peel show, with the added bonus that all tracks were played at the correct speed –  spanned 50s rockabilly…punk…acid house…new wave…no wave…nosebleed techno…avant garde ambience…and flowed seamlessly; dubby, clubby and ebbing and flowing like the best of nights out.

Sabres Of ParadiseTheme

The AsphodellsA Love From Outer Space

A true pioneer, his unmistakable stamp on the great records of the future will be greatly missed. For now, I’ll sate myself with the honest understanding that my knowledge of Andrew Weatherall’s work barely scratches the surface. I’m going in head-first for the next wee while.

6 thoughts on “Music’s Not For Everyone”

  1. Still reeling over this one Craig. The Guv’nor is responsible for a large part of my post 1989 record collection. I have a list of records from his recent Music’s Not For Everyone radio shows. He has nearly bankrupted me with these shows. Not sure where the recommendations are going to come from now. Nobody else comes close, for me anyway

  2. Brilliant writing (as ever) on a true titan of music, and top links too – spreading the message yet further of his wild sonic cross-pollination and diverse boundary-burning. He changed the course of popular music – how many artists can say that let alone producers and DJs? The resulting avalanche of posthumous tributes are utterly deserved.

    One lone swordsman is now a sabre in paradise (we hope)
    x
    Keeley

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