Just what is it that you want to do?
We wanna be free. We wanna be free to do what we wanna do.
And we wanna get loaded, and we wanna have a good time.
And that’s what we’re gonna do.
We’re gonna have a good time. We’re gonna have a party…
Peter Fonda, The Wild Angels (1966)
Andrew Weatherall certainly knew how to have a party. An early participant in the notorious British acid house scene who was known for his six-plus hour sets and his writing for the cult Boy’s Own fanzine, this prolific DJ, remixer and producer was behind so much of the music I danced myself silly to in the 1990s. More than simply an underground club DJ with a penchant for a good time, his work has rightly become hugely influential over the last couple of decades. You may not perhaps think you know any of his work, but – trust me – you do.
He was one of those guys whose name on a record sleeve was an automatic mark of quality. You didn’t necessarily have to hear it to know it would be good. You could buy the record sight unseen, because you could guarantee his music would be intelligent and interesting and peppered with a distinct wit – every bit as much as it would often make you dance like an electrocuted scarecrow on speed (er… just me, then?).
He remixed absolutely everyone who was anyone during the 1990s, played epic DJ sets all over the place, and co-produced at least one stone-cold classic album in Primal Scream’s Screamadelica – but he still found time to create his own intriguing work with the Sabres of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen projects, as well as releasing a great deal on the equally influential Warp Records.
It is difficult to overstate his own influence on all sorts of artists, then and now. In particular, his early work in transforming the Primals somewhat dirge-y 1989 album track ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ve Ever Had’ into the immortal, era-defining rush of ‘Loaded’ was a breakthrough for the band and went a long way to kickstarting the early 1990s indie/rave crossover for real; arguably sowing the seeds for much of the music of the next decade. That opening Peter Fonda sample on ‘Loaded’ (“We’re gonna have a party…”) beautifully encapsulates the hedonistic attitude and outlook of 90s British youth culture.
The untimely death of the great man last month came as a shock, and his passing is a hugely unexpected loss to British music – especially for those of us who raved through the 1990s and were inspired by his music. Ever since I heard the bad news, I’ve been putting together a playlist of bona fide Weatherall goodness, which you will find below. It features many of his best remixes alongside all kinds of production work and one or two (ahem) DJ sets. It’s not complete, and likely never will be, but damn, there’s some great tunes on there…
If that’s not enough for you, may I suggest you consult the Weatherdrive? This mammoth set of files contains around 900 hours (yes, nine hundred hours!) of Weatherall, dating back as far as 1988. Lovingly compiled over many years by fans, this is an example of proper music geekery in its purest form and I absolutely approve of its existence.
Thanks must go out to Sid for his contributions to the playlist!
We know what a special person [Andrew] was and are overwhelmed at the number of people who knew this too… and to hear their stories and how he influenced them is a real joy at such a raw and dreadful time.
Please do what he would have wanted… creating, listening, dancing, but above all pushing boundaries.