Various Artists | WIG210 | Released: 19/10/08
For Dreams Come True Jon Savage has tuned his acutely discerning ears into the febrile rhythms, low end frequencies and street level sense of fun rippling through early eighties electro. The result is a definitive compilation of 12” mixes and vocal cuts of some of Electro’s most hedonistic and breathless tracks. To make it explicit, just listen to "Class Action’s Weekend" (track 2):
“It’s party time tonight”
In the eighties, at the start of that still not quite understood decade, in the early hours of downtown Manhattan, the combined steam of the subway, the peak temperature of the clubs after midnight, and the heat of the moment configured to produce a new kind of rhythm and a new kind of sound. As Savage indicates in Dreams Come True’s accompanying sleeve notes, by the end of the Seventies, disco had become orthodox and misunderstood. The combination of worldwide commercial success for its poppier end, and the resultant redneck backlash, meant the clubs and their clientele determined to refresh the soundtrack to their after dark activities.
Filtering European futurism (Kraftwerk, Georgio Moroder) with the Bronx awareness of Afrikaa Bambaata Djs like Arthur Baker, Jellybean, Larry Levan, Francois K and John Robie ran a late adolescent rush through the circuit board to produce these spare, insistent turned-on tracks.
Running through the album (and especially on track 8: "Dirty Talk" and track 9: "Jump Back") is a delight in the crisp sensuality of the Linn Drum. Bedroom and backroom producers freed the drum machine from the security guard utopia of the major label recording studio and reinvented it as a magically dirty beatbox. The perfect instrument for programming underground pleasure.
Make no mistake about the degree of hedonism and sensuality these tracks are in search of. As Debbie Deb indicates clearly (When I Hear Music track 4) the music is just the entry point to what’s on offer. Deliberately dumb and erotic "Love Ride" (track 5) reaches for a feeling that predicts the imminent arrival of MDMA. Ecstasy would unlock, amplify and, in the creation of house music – speed all this up.
Many of these tracks crossed the Atlantic courtesy of the Street Sounds compilation at about the same time MacDonald’s took up residence in the UK’s high street - meaning bodypoppinng and fast food made a nicely grubby counterpoint to the Live Aid generation and their yachts. And isn’t the point of street music surely exactly that? Electro’s impact was made overt by Factory’s decision to open the Hacienda and in New Order’s run of singles from Confusion to True Faith. Francois K even got to remix "This Charming Man". And in Madonna’s early singles and the Pet Shop Boys entire catalogue Electro not only went mainstream but global.
Dreams Come True is the sound of an urban utopia high on possibilities and extremely horny. Next time you’re thinking of going out start by putting on this CD. Luxuriate in the directness and heat of these tracks and wonder what might lie ahead.