Scene Spotlight: Big Beat

Evening all. Welcome to a discussion of a scene that was dear to my heart. The scene that convinced me dance music was a viable art form, not just a drug accompaniment.

The ‘second summer of love’ in 1988 had been an explosión for dance music in Britain. But the mainstream club music very quickly became formulaic. Trance like beats that could quickly become monotonous to the non-high.

Different scenes sprouted in oppsition to this , including Trip-Hop in the Bristol área and in two nightclubs in particular, ‘Big Beat’

Heavenly records ‘Sunday Social’ and Skint records ‘Big Beat Boutique’ (Co-Launched by Fatboy Slim) were club nights for people who didn’t go clubbing. They didn’t stick to one style. Dance , rock, Motown, if it got people up and dancing then play it.

A lot of the acts were DJs turned artists, Fatboy Slim, the Chemical Brothers, Monkey Mafia and Skint Records Founder Damián Harris AKA Midfield General.

It’s noteable the sample is from someone denouncing Rock and Roll. This was dance music that wanted to be rock music or hip hop or punk.

. “I always thought the formula of big beat was the
breakbeats of hip-hop, the energy of acid house, and the pop sensibilities of
the Beatles, with a little bit of punk sensibility, all rolled into one. People
like the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers — we saw it as very similar to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, who grew up listening to soul records and
blues records and then sold an English version of it back to America.” -Norman Cook AKA Fatboy Slim
It was a scene that crossed the Atlantic well. By the mid 90s Britpop had made British music cool and it was an easy sell to post this new stuff as being like Oasis or whoever. Then even kids turned off by the dance label were on board.
You can see the approach in the cover for the Chemical Brothers first LP Exit Planet Dust


No day-glo graphics, glowsticks or white gloves. A couple of hippy looking people with a guitar. Could be a folk álbum, could be anything.
What it is is great party music.

(Due to pressure of time, I’m throwing this up half done. I will edit and expand but I’ll leave with a couple of other corkers)