|A Guy Called Gerald|
For several years now, the North - and, in part, Manchester - has been credited as the official UK residence of the House sound of Chicago. We've read this old chestnut enough times over the past few years. The reality has never really been documented. Now I could describe the 'scene' in Manchester in terms of a Zusan/Zam dance routine, or give details of Mike Pickering's inside-leg measurement, but that would be a little too specific. What needs attention is the idea of a 'scene' in the first place.
Now, we can get quite positive, as, despite my ever-present cynicism, I do think 1988 has been very important for Manchester with regard to its dance music scene. Prior to this year you could only really define the scene as a one-way act of consumption; packed dancefloors 'jacking' (remember that?) to the thunderous beat of another urban sprawl (i.e. Chicago's). We can't forget T-Coy, of course. They released four excellent Latin House tracks in 1987. The quality was inspiring. But the quantity didn't represent a real reversal of that one-way process.
It was when the "punters" - some of those people who packed onto the dancefloors - started fiddling 808s, 303s, and with whatever else was at hand - that a scene becomes fully dimensional. This is where Gerald comes in. A Nude Night regular, Ged's actually been working on material for some time. Two years ago (when he was a mere 17), one his tapes was circulating around radio stations and DJs, but it has taken them until now, and 'Voodoo Ray' to get him noticed. Gerald is one of a number of dancefloor fanatics disappearing into the cheaper studios of Manchester to emerge with all sorts of weirdness put to the beat of the omnipotent 808.
But Gerald is special. He's got strange ears; listen to 'Voodoo Ray' and something is not quite right, yet just right.
The so-called explosion of House-orientated productions in 1988, has really been more an explosion of House-orientated exploitation; cynical producers setting about to make a House record, with perhaps a handful of compilation LPs as reference. Gerald never sets out to make House music per se; he sees what he does as "un-uniformed dancefloor" - universal dance music. That attitude immediately ensures a freshness to the sound, an unpredictability to the music; qualities sorely lacking in much of the British output.
The Gerald LP, 'Hot Lemonade' has been completed, but is so far available to the lucky few in test pressing form. It looks set for considerable success come its release early next year. However, I'm not without reservations. There is a danger that much of the LP's relevance may be lost by the time of its release, Gerald following-up his passion for techno-acid fusion as opposed to any of the possibilities suggested by the Gerald / T-Coy / Annette collaboration 'Dream 17' (available on the 'North' compilation LP).
Talking to Ged about this LP, it's clear he's single-minded, yet obviously still a little awed by the interest of guru Derrick May/Mayday, who plans to do an edit of 'Voodoo Ray', having already secured the track for his Transmat label.
The great Gerald hype-monster seems to have failed, of as yet, to prompt any decent offers from major labels in the UK. The £15,000 offered by one particular London label is ridiculous, but is symptomatic of the general attitude of the industry, which seems to consider dancefloor production values to be bargain basement. Ged's outta the basement and quietly rewiring the lift. (Going up!).
[Author: JON DASILVA]