My mate gave me a task on Facebook: choose 10 vinyl albums that greatly influenced my taste in music. One album per day for ten consecutive days. No explanations, no reviews, just album covers.
So far I have done three in the last three weeks and…so…well I am not really sticking to the rules in terms of timelines, format, waffling and really just about everything, and this is even more of a deviation in that I never bought the LP for ages after I first heard the band and I’m posting it on here which isn’t even Facebook.
But! Original Soundtrack is the debut S’Express LP and has all the groovy singles on it and in their original format, as back in that particular day there was an annoying tendency for remixes to chart and then you’d get the LP and they would only have the weird originals on it.
Anyway, S’Express were the band that really got my ears pricking up at “house” music, which until this came along had mostly been a very crass and cheesy distillation of samples and synths that mostly seemed to equate with very dangerous football boys and nightclubs and getting beaten up.
But S’Express were like Monty Python or Salvador Dali or even Benny Hill. They were as electronic as you could get, absolutely no pretence that there was anything real about how they made the music, but instead of taking one beat and one sample and looping it over and over again they crafted and orchestrated loads of stuff to make a completely unique sounding…sound.
It’s joyous, but dark. Playful but dangerous, sexy and almost obscene in places, highly danceable, sophisticated and yet wonderfully abstract, hilarious and, amongst all the noise, what stands out about S’Express is how British sounding they are.
Not in the style of the music or even the influences, but in how they turned their ideas and everything they appropriated into the finished product, kind of like an aural charity shop, though throw in the clothes and instruments too.
On this day of all days it is a testament to Britishness and an island nation that can scream until it’s red white and blue in the face about how independent we truly are…whilst knowing we owe so much of that Britishness to our ability to mix everything that makes its ways into these shores, whether it washed up on the beaches or we industrialised its trade via shipping it from places we’d plundered. That to be British is to discover, accept, play with and transform the world we find around us, not to shut it out or doggedly stick with dreams of tradition, inventions of heritage and complaints about interference.
Now that I’ve calmed down a bit (though fuck it I still feel bad about what has happened) I was reminded when listening to “Theme from S’Express” that I liked it so much back in 1989 that it heavily influenced the drum beat on the song “Intro” by my band Big Chief Fail (meaning…I copied it as best I could, but it was fun to do on ye olde drum machine and sounded superkool).