Classic Electro Mastercuts

Intro – Ian Dewhirst / Sleevenotes – Greg Wilson

Classic Electro Mastercuts Volume 1 CD (Beachwood Music 1994)


Arriving at about the same time as a lot of the 80’s Groove category, Electro had a much more difficult time with the DJ community, due to the experimental nature of the recordings, and there was a tendency for many DJs to be openly critical of the general lack of Soul, R ‘n’ B harmonies, and lush production values. This could occasionally get nasty with some club crowds who saw Electro as an INSULT when played on the same night as more traditional fare. Speaking from Mastercuts’ own viewpoint, this was a regular headache which eventually turned into a migraine when a DJ from 40 miles away started specialising in Pure Techno, ensuring that many of Mastercuts’ more adventurous customers started demanding more left-field Electro platters to be spun every night!

Anyway, luckily, Mastercuts managed to avoid any scenes of dancefloor carnage and life continued to be groovy. But we never forgot that blasted DJ, his name was Greg Wilson and he was mashing those decks to PIECES at Wigan Pier and Legends in Manchester, both of which quickly attained ‘compulsive’ status for Electro lovers. Then the guy was voted North’s top DJ by Blues and Soul magazine shortly after becoming the first UK DJ to mix live on television via a transmission of ITV’s The Tube. The “Greg Wilson Mix” on Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio was already cult listening. Before retiring from Deejaying in 1984, Greg had kicked off the first weekly dance night at The Haçienda and was managing Britain’s best known breakdance crew, Manchester’s Broken Glass. In ’84 he produced Streetsounds’ experimental “UK Electro” album and has since produced the Ruthless Rap Assassins and more recently Mind Body and Soul.

Take it away Greg…

“ELECTRO – The Beat That Won’t Be Beaten” proclaimed The Face in big bold letters across its May ’84 front cover. However, by this point, the scene was two years old and the Electro era was coming to an end and about to mutate, inspiring the twin titans of Hip Hop and House, having already set the blueprint for the coming decade of dance.

Electro was the hybrid and its legacy is vast. It introduced us to Hip Hop culture, provided the soundtrack for the breakdance generation and proceeded to explode Rap and Scratch mixing out from the underground and into the mainstream. It brought remixing to the fore and embraced the Jamaican concept of the Dub mix, and it’s use of Sequencers, Samplers and Beat Boxes like the 808, the Linn and the DMX conspired to bring about the forthcoming Dance revolution…

At the beginning of 1982 Dance music was in transition; Jazz-Funk had run it’s course, Disco had become Hi-Energy and Rap was still pretty much dismissed as a passing fad. Here in the UK, a once vibrant club and all-dayer scene was sliding into apathy and blandness, but across the Atlantic in New York’s Bronx something strange was happening. People were venturing outside of their immediate musical horizons and were taking in new influences, none bigger than Kraftwerk – the German inventors of all that is currently known as Techno. From the street to the studio a movement began which started to fully utilise the technology available, soon the Big Apple would be rockin’ to it’s own Electro beat, born in Europe, but now with a hard edge which could only have come from New York…

These weird and wonderful records began to make their way across to the UK on import at a time when mixing had yet to make any real impact in UK clubs and most DJs hadn’t even heard of, let alone worked with the nowadays essential Technics vari-speed turntable. Luckily, both Legend and Wigan Pier had three apiece! Having been converted to mixing while working in Europe, it soon became my trademark and before I knew it I was putting together regular mixes for DJ Mike Shaft on Piccadilly Radio. Electro was made to be mixed and I became increasingly associated with the music.

It wasn’t long before the validity of Electro-Funk (to give it it’s original term) was being questioned within the pages of Blues and Soul – in those days the DJ’s bible. The traditionalists said that it was little more than mindless machine muzak, which would destroy the black music scene rather than revive it. Northern Club correspondent Frank Elson would highlight his disgust by refusing to even acknowledge the word, using EL*C*RO instead, whilst a prominent Manchester record shop went as far to display an ‘Electro Shit’ chart! It was all getting very political and I was singled out as something of a heretic for promoting the music. But the scene had gone massive and nothing was going to stop it! The old school eventually mellowed, but it would take releases like “Just Be Good To Me” by the S.O.S. Band and Marvin Gay’s “Sexual Healing“ to convince them that maybe the drum machine did have a part to play…

By 1983 the wonders of Hip Hop had reached national TV, via Malcolm McLaren’s breathtaking Buffalo Gals video and things would never be quite the same again. For here, before our very eyes, was scratch mixing, graffiti art, and the most amazing sight anyone could remember – a man spinning on his head! The age of the breakdancer had arrived. Etched on my memory is a night in Huddersfield when I first played the video, the audience was quite literally stunned and everyone sat down on the dancefloor to watch! I must have played it continually for over an hour. Seeing the dazed expressions on people’s faces, I realised the meaning of the term culture shock! McLaren, the clown prince of punk, had done it again, introducing us to the full phenomenon of Scratching, Breakdancing, Planet Rock, The Bronx.

CLASSIC ELECTRO MASTER CUTS TRACKLIST:

1. ROCKERS REVENGE — Walking On Sunshine
2. PEECH BOYS — Don’t Make Me Wait
3. GRANDMASTER & MELLE MEL — White Lines
4. MAN PARRISH — Hip Hop Be Bop
5. HERBIE HANCOCK — Rockit
6. TYRONE BRUNSON — The Smurf
7. C.O.D — In The Bottle
8. NEWTRAMENT — London Bridge Is Falling Down
9. HASHIM — Al-Naafiysh
10. WHODINI — Magic’s Wand
11. TIME ZONE — The Wildstyle
12. GRANDMASTER FLASH & THE FURIOUS FIVE — The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel

Classic Electro Mastercuts original tracklisting 1994 (Click on image to enlarge)


There were 2 more proposed ‘Classic Electro Mastercuts’ releases, but they never came to fruition. These were Greg’s projected tracklistings:

VOLUME 2:

1. AFRIKA BAMBAATAA & THE SOUL SONIC FORCE — Planet Rock
2. CYBOTRON — Clear
3. SHANNON — Let The Music Play
4. B BOYS — Two, three. break
5. MALCOLM McLAREN & THE WORLD’S FAMOUS SUPREME TEAM — Buffalo Gals
6. NEWCLEUS — Jam On Tevenge (The Wikki Wikki Song)
7. EXTRA T’s — Et Boogie
8. WEST STREET MOB — Break Dancin’ – Electric Boogie
9. G.L.O.B.E & WHIZ KID — Play That Beat Mr DJ
10. KLIEN & MBO — Dirty Talk
11. CAPTAIN ROCK — The Return Of Captain Rock
12. THE JONZUN CREW — We Are The Jonzun Crew

VOLUME 3:

1. RUN-DMC — It’s Like That
2. TWILIGHT 22 — Electric Kingdom
3. PLANET PATROL — Rock At Your Own Risk
4. Q — The Voice Of Q
5. WARP 9 — Nunk
6. GEORGE CLINTON — Loopzilla
7. STONE — Time
8. GRANDMASTER FLASH & THE FURIOUS FIVE — Scorpio
9. TWO SISTERS — High Noon
10. B BOYS — Cuttin’ Herbie
11. THE PACKMAN — I’m The Packman
12. AFRIKA BAMBAATAA & THE SOUL SONIC FORCE — Looking For The Perfect Beat

*’Planet Rock’ and ‘Buffalo Gals’ were originally earmarked for Vol 1, but we couldn’t obtain licensing at the time. We were hopeful that we’d be able to get permission to use them for Vol 2.

 


© Greg Wilson

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