Sunday, November 18, 2007
A Guy Called Gerald - Voodoo Ray EP
A Guy Called Gerald, "Voodoo Ray" (YSI link) 320
A Guy Called Gerald, "Escape" (YSI link) 320
This seems like the perfect place to start, A Guy Called Gerald's "Voodoo Ray," the song that most consider the first UK acid house track, the song that would lead to one of the most amazing and productive periods in the history of dance music. Originally released in 1988 on Rham! Records, it would end up #12 on the UK singles chart, become a staple at the Hacienda and usher in the smiley-face, rave-y world to Europe.
A Guy Called Gerald is Gerald Simpson, another legendary figure born and raised in Manchester. He originally started out making freestyle hip hop tracks on a 303 and 808 that he bought cheap in the mid-80s. The first thing he would do in the studio was "Voodoo Ray," picking up on the sounds coming out of Chicago from the same period. Ironically, the song's title and main vocal segment wasn't quite intended; sampling a portion of Dudley Moore and Peter Cook's "Bo Dudley" sketch from their album, Derek and Clive Live, the sampler accidentally cut short the whole quote due to a lack of memory, cutting "voodoo rage" into "voodoo ray." He went with it and no one would miss that -ge. One listen to the gorgeous acid melody, stabs of female vocals & giggles and dense percussion and you will forget all about that too. What I like most of all, though, is the tension between the genuinely nice bass & lighter female vocals and the dark-edged, distorted male ones, it has a nice feel sitting at the crossroads of the darker, bare-bones Chicago sound and the blissful, happy tunes that would soon follow.
Here is the A side to that original release (I actually have the subsequent Blow Your House Down 12" put out by Belgian label LD Records in 1989, but that's our little secret), which also featured "Escape." Not sure what sort of impact this one had, but it shouldn't be overlooked. This one actually has a darker feel to it, what with the sampled "Is there any escape?" vocal, an occasional growling voice, even squelchier bass and effects galore.