Jack the Tab revisited over at An Idiot’s Guide to Dreaming. Includes a great interview with Richard Norris who went on to be half of The Grid with Dave Ball.
Richard DJ’ed at one of St Albans’ first acid house nights in the autumn of 1988. He’d been involved with the Bam Caruso psychedelia reissue label which was based in the town, and the contact details on the back of the Jack the Tab LP were his Mum’s house, down the road from where I used to look after old ladies instead of getting the shit kicked out of me on the football pitch of a wednesday afternoon.
I managed to persuade some of my goth mates to check the club out. It was a mad night – the first time we’d ventured into the wine bar venue because we associated it with insanely violent casuals, dodgy music and prescriptive dress codes. Indeed, one of our number was wearing some ptv “LSD NRG” stickers on his DMs and we’d been questioned by the doorman, who was a bit apprehensive about it all. But we got in by smiling and saying it was just the music maaaaan (I daresay having some fit goth girls with us may have helped as well). Perhaps I even quoted D-Mob, I dunno. Richard saw my Psychic TV t-shirt and we had a nice chat. He even invited me behind the decks, which I think must have turned me into a gibbering awestruck wreck. I was made up.
I don’t remember much about the music being played – there were some squiggly acid house soon-to-be-classics, some of Coldcut’s cut & paste records, and I think S’Express got an outing too. As Loki says, there was a point where acid house hadn’t quite been defined properly and all sorts of weird stuff managed to leak through the gaps in people’s imaginations. I found it enormously exciting, that enthusiasm mixed up with the begining of a social movement. As you can see from the NME review above, the music press was befuddled by it and were happy to review the real deal from the US alongside homegrown imposters. (Over at Melody Maker, Simon Reynolds was characteristically on the case with a large album review and interview.)
As Paul Meme pointed out to me last night, I was perfectly placed to go on an acid house adventure – I moved down to London ten days after that night. It never really panned out though. Partly because I lacked a car to get round the M25, and partly because my social circle in the smoke was (once again) more of the punky gothy variety anyway. I spent my first night in London seeing the Butthole Surfers at the Brixton Academy – retro psychedelia rather than the shock of the new. It would take a few years to get back to clubbing proper after my introduction. By then the amorphous mass of ideas had solidified into a proper scene. Which was great (and inevitable) but felt a bit limited compared to what it could have been in our wildest imaginings.