I was 18 in 1987, and had spent the previous few years hot-footing it around the UK’s mod scene. Learning to love great slices of 60s rhythm and soul, some of the best of the live bands – the Prisoners, Makin’ Time – and, increasingly, jazz. Attracted initially by the organ sounds of Jimmy McGriff and Jimmy Smith, then moving on up via a Kenny Burrell 45 to what still looks like the coolest label on the planet, Blue Note, with its fingerpopping grooves housed in fabulous Reid Miles designed sleeves. This led me to London’s jazz scene, where I was weaned from my obsession with records cut before 1968 to a wider world of funky jazz, dodgy bossas, fast fusion and Brazilian magic of the sort not involving Pele. I found myself at the birth of the Acid Jazz scene and attending the most amazing club I have ever attended.
Between 12-4pm, initially, (later on 12-6pm) on a Sunday afternoon, Dingwall’s Dancehall would pulsate to the sounds that DJs Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge laid down, while the live acts that played became the basis of a scene that assumed world-wide proportions during the early and mid 90s. This took place while outside on Camden Lock tourists and goths filled the market. It was an amazingly exciting time and the Acid House scene mirrored what was going on in the world of mainstream clubbing.
Our compilation is a representation of that scene and the record label, Acid Jazz, that emerged from it. The label was started up by Peterson and the manager of the James Taylor Quartet, Eddie Piller. They pretty quickly started signing up the talent from the clubs, making stunning records with Galliano, the Brand New Heavies, A Man Called Adam (featuring Paul Daley who went onto world-wide fame as one half of Leftfield) and Chris Bangs. All these artists are represented here with tracks that show various levels of respect for the past, but which belie the criticism often levelled at the label, that it was retro in its sound. Also represented here are the JTQ – using the pseudonym the New Jersey Kings – and Night Trains who eventually recorded three albums for Acid Jazz. We have also received permission to include the ultimate Acid Jazz rarity, King Truman’s Like A Gun, a Paul Weller pseudonym which, until this release had only been available on its original very short run 12 inch release. The record had been withdrawn on the back of the Polydor’s objections (then the label of the former Jam frontman) within hours of its release. This is its first CD appearance.
TOTALLY WIRED is a true representation of the early years of both the Acid Jazz label and the scene that spawned it, down to the inclusion of a couple of big funky jazz floorfillers on the comp. This was the way that the original “Totally Wired” series always helped to introduce the influences on the present day bands to their audiences. It was an amazing time to be clubbing and discovering records. I really hope that this compilation lets those who weren’t there get an idea of how good it could be, and to bring back amazing memories to those that were.
By Dean Rudland