When I was an undergraduate, and before my OWL days, I was the General Manager of WFCS-FM. In addition to running the station, I would spin dance music on vinyl records during my Tuesday night radio show, Emmanation. Back then, the airwaves in Connecticut were filled with great house dance music broadcast from WWUH (University of Hartford), WRTC (Trinity College), and, of course, WFCS (Central CT State University) at the center of it all. To this day, house remains my favorite dance genre but often our shows were a mix of deep house, trance, electronica, and the sort-of pop dance that was sensational but didn’t have the media connections to give it its due recognition.
As the General Manager of WFCS, I had to keep the station in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sometimes this meant long fill-in shifts when a scheduled DJ was a “no show”. No matter: this was a labor of love. There was something particularly euphoric and exciting about sending music out into space, trying to make the sounds connect and flow within each other, and for your 2 to 4-hour shift create a mood and atmosphere. My husband and I would spend hours driving to obscure record shops to find a new exciting sound (such was the freedom of our college days). In addition to our regular shifts at WFCS, my husband (to this day, a self-proclaimed “prisoner of the beat”) landed a reoccurring summer gig at WRTC. I would always come along and Friday nights in the summer became synonymous with WRTC and the sounds of underground dance music. I still miss many of the friends we met through these radio gigs.
More than anything, music seems to reconnect us to people, places, and time. A few of my favorites from this era that can be found in OWL’s collection include:
Dewdrops in the Garden and The Very Best of Deee-Lite~ Deee-lite. Listeners to Emmanation would attest that no other group signified my show more than Deee-lite. Lady Miss Kier, Super DJ Dmitry, and Towa Tei formed Deee-lite, a trio that, as Lady Miss Kier noted, was “dedicated to proving that dance music was a live thing and real music”. Thumping beats combine with hopeful, optimistic, love-centered lyrics, and particularly with their second recording, politics. On The Very Best of Deelite, you’ll find “What Is Love” and “Groove is in the Heart”, their two most commercially successful tracks. But don’t miss “I had a Dream I was Falling Through a Hole in the Ozone Layer”, “E.S.P”, “Pussycat Meow” and “Love is Everything”.
On Dewdrops in the Garden, Towa Tei played less of a role and Ani Schempf joined to mix in a more jungle sound. Don’t miss “Music is the Soul Reflector”, “Apple Juice Kissing”, “River of Freedom”, “Bring Me Your Love”, and “Stay in Bed Forget the Rest”.
But of course, I love every Deee-lite song and remix, so in my opinion, you can’t go wrong here. Turn it up and get your body moving!
Mind Fruit ~Opus III. Opus III consisted of vocalist Kristy Hawkshaw, and musician/producers Kevin Dobbs, Ian Munro, and Nigel Walton. Based in the UK, Opus III’s first release, Mind Fruit, remains, in my opinion, the strongest. The sound is a mix of thumping beats and earthy, ethereal sounds. “It’s a Fine Day” is considered a dance classic. But don’t miss their remake of King Crimson’s “I Talk to the Wind”, along with “Stars in My Pocket”, “Into this Universe”, and “Evolution Rush”. The whole CD is exceptional.
Journey with the Lonely~ Lil’ Louis. Here is classic, early house from Chicago-born producer Louis Burns. With sultry beats with a rhythm and blues tone, Lil’ Louis serves up the melodies with “New Dance Beat”, “Saved My Life”, “You’re My Reason”, and “Thief”. As he writes in the liner notes, “I was taught that luv [sic] and family were most important…” and that shines through with each word and every beat.
Foxbase Alpha~ Saint Etienne. Described as “an English indie dance act”, Saint Etienne included Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley, and Pete Wiggs. The Times (London) wrote that Saint Etienne “deftly fused the grooviness of Swinging Sixties London with a post-acid house backbeat”. Later CDs like Sound of Water would take a more electronica approach. Be sure to check out “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and “Spring”. Saint Etienne’s music is not to be missed.
If the 60s were the 90s~ Beautiful People. Arranged, written and mixed by Du Kane and Luke Baldry (and Pely, who assisted with mixing), this CD takes you on a fusion journey combining Jimi Hendrix with acid house, thumping beats, and electronica. Du Kane and Luke Baldry wrote that as their involvement with the house scene grew, they danced in the evenings but listened to Hendrix during the day. They decided to put the two together creating what I think was a great new sound. My favorites include “Comin to Get You”, “Get Your Mind Together”, and “Stone Crazy”.
“Won’t you listen to what the DJ’s spinning, he’s tapping into just what you’re feeling….” ~ From E.S.P. ~ Deee-lite.
Ann Marie White is the Library Director for the Oliver Wolcott Library.