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Reissue Of The Week

Reissue Of The Week: 2manydjs' As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2
Manu Ekanayake , November 25th, 2022 10:00

2manyDJs might have pushed indie fans towards club music with Radio Soulwax in 2002, but as Manu Ekanayake remembers, it also helped the era’s house and techno heads overcome their antipathy towards guitars

20 years ago this mix blew the roof off the indie scene, setting the path for Justice and the Ed Banger Records crew, LCD Soundsystem and the DFA mob and – closer to home – Erol Alkan and friends, to push the guitar-obsessed genre ever forward into the rave. You might say that the spark that that Andrew Weatherall and Hugo Nicholson lit with Scremadelica really grew to flame at this point. It also opened my ears to a whole new world, as someone with a long-held antipathy to “all that guitar nonsense” when I bought it for a New Year’s Eve party at my first shared house in London. Then 22 and still in my clubbing honeymoon, now 42 and more of an occasional raver, it seems like a good time to look back. Especially as 2ManyDJs are doing the same by announcing a revamped edition, that will be available on streaming platforms for the first time ever, alongside a short series of gigs to celebrate the 20-year-old mix.

Just listening to those first spaceship-landing bars of ‘Peter Gunn (Live)’ by Emerson, Lake and Palmer takes me right back to that moment and especially that place: Elephant And Castle, SE17. It was a four bedroom terraced affair, basically a half-decent student house, but for me it was my taste of real freedom. I’d lived in halls throughout my time at Reading University, where I’d picked up a taste for house and techno clubbing thanks to Checkpoint Charlie, the local ‘acid house disco’ that had been going since 1993, when Andrew Weatherall played the first event. By the early 2000s it was more of a techno and tech-house club with resident DJs Neville Watson and Mat Carter and guests like Laurent Garnier, Mr C, the late Kenny Hawkes and Billy Nasty. So I was fully into electronic music. Anything resembling ‘indie’ just wasn’t on the cards.

I’m going to ignore the fabled ‘track zero’, a remix of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, because I didn’t know how to access it on the CD yet (I later found out you just rewound from track one). But when my housemates decided we should host a New Year’s Party to herald in 2003 I decided I was getting my clubbing mates down to put our own spin on things. Or turn my room into a messy rave pit; however you want to put it. This led to me buying a whole load of CDs, with this mix top of the pile. I’d heard good things, including from some old Essex pals who weren’t usually dance music people, so I decided to give it a try. Now my antipathy to ‘indie’ music, or basically any guitar music, started as that was pretty much the only music you were ‘allowed’ to like at my school – it was the Britpop wars, not that I gave a solitary shit – lest you fall victim to ridicule. It never phased me, even when it was the barely disguised racism of labelling any form of Black music ‘gangsta’. Today they’d call that a microagression, but then I just called it Essex public school boys being pricks, though it never stopped my love of hip-hop and house. So my first listen to this mix was a bit hairy, to put it mildly, but I found enough that I could relate to as a clubber. And I was sure this was what we had to have playing around midnight.

The night went pretty much as expected: the ravers weren’t sure this was dance music, my indie mates didn’t know what it was but by the time Peaches invited you to ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ the magic was already happening. I will admit that the snatches of ‘Where’s Your Head At’ by Basement Jaxx definitely made me more comfortable, but it was the punky energy of Peaches and languid cool of Lou Reed that were a revelation to me. This was guitar music I could get down with, finally. This mixing of genres in clubs like Bugged Out! at The End, which also hosted Erol Alkan’s alternative night Trash on Mondays (which despite being very art studenty and dressed-up even let me in a couple of times, presumably as I was rave-slim in those days so my habitual vintage tee and combats probably looked more chic than that combo would look on me now) and the barely-mentioned And Did We Mention Our Disco on Friday nights at Plastic People would be a revelation to me during the 2000s. But that’s skipping ahead a few years. Right now I’m busy losing it majorly to the Dakar & Grinser version of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ by The Stooges, reverberating with some truly crunchy basslines. By the time the machine funk mash-up of Bobby O’s ‘O Medley’ with ‘Disko Kings’ by Ural 3 Diktators gives way to Felix Da Housecat’s ‘Silverscreen Shower Scene’ everyone is truly feeling no pain. By this point drinks are going merrily over the carpet, though I’m far too laced to care. Hearing ‘Push It’ by Salt N Pepa punched out with the raw power of The Stooges ‘No Fun’ was absolutely getting everyone to boiling point.

Now the pedal comes up off the floor for a welcome second, at least as far as my rental deposit was concerned. I’d usually have bucked at the kiddie-ish vocals of ‘Joe Le Taxi’ by Hanayo with Jürgen Paape, but I was beginning to realise you can’t punch a mix all the way through or people will get tired. The pace picks up with the sonic savagery of Soul Grabber’s ‘Motocross Madness’, which segues surely into Zongamin’s equally stomping ‘Serious Trouble’. Felix’s take on Garbage’s ‘Androgyny’ is an attitude-fuelled remix and the Carlos Morgan reggae version of The Jacksons ‘Shake Your Body Down’ is a bit of a skanking gem, though I recall a few confused faces at the time.

Now though, we’re getting serious – or at least as serious as this mix ever gets. It’s time for Destiny’s Child. Back in 2002 of course, Beyoncé was still just a member of the popular R&B act, but she shows her star quality via this acapella, mashed up with 10CC’s ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, in quite a long extract for this release, which shows the Dewaele brothers weren’t immune to her charms either. But bringing in Dolly Parton (now an internet hero for her philanthropy, then a figure of fun for her outlandish style) was a gem of a cheeky genius, though we quickly push into ‘Eple’ by Röyksopp, which has never sounded better before or since. It’s too light to hold the attention, though, so in comes one of the oddest mash-ups in the whole release, Skee-Lo’s ‘I Wish’ acapella with the Jeans Team’s ‘Keine Melodien’, though The Breeders’ ‘Cannonball’ with Skee-Lo’s vocals on top then comes along to take that crown. I mean why stop when you’re on a roll, right?

It’s the home stretch now and things are getting so rocky it’s probably best I’m loaded for bear, as is everyone else for that matter. The raw power of The Cramps’ ‘Human Fly’ matches well with the camp screaming of Electric Six’s ‘Danger! High Voltage’, while Op:l Bastards’ version of ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ resonates with utterly sleazed-out brilliance. Now comes a mix of real skill: ADULT’s ‘Hand To Phone’ melded in with the superlatively block-rocking electro house of ‘La Rock 01’ by Vitalic. My heart’s racing just writing about it. This is what I think of when I think of this mix. But Steph and Dave aren’t done yet, so they give us some melody to keep things flowing via Queen Of Japan’s ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. Then there’s a smattering of New Order (not ‘Blue Monday’ but instrumental B-Side ‘The Beach’) with the Detroit Grand Pubahs’ ‘Sandwiches’, which is about as good a distillation of the whole 2ManyDJs mash-up ethos as I can think of. Finally the sheer outrageousness of the vocally explicit Soulwax remix of ‘I Sit On Acid’ by Lords of Acid switches easily into the slyly humorous spoken word of ‘Start Button’ by Streamer (featuring Private Thoughts In Public Places). One last example of how this mix is not just a triumph of DJ technique, it’s also a great exercise in pacing throughout. That’s not something I noticed at the time but it really sticks out now. A true classic will stand the test of time and this one certainly does – and now a whole new generation will be able to sample its mixed-up brilliance. Just in time for party season.

PS. My carpet never recovered.

The re-release of As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt.2 is out now