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Like many others, Neil Rushton was galvanized by the electronic music coming out of Chicago mid-decade, which was successfully codified in the English market under the trade name "house." A similar thing happened in Chicago as in Detroit: away from the musical mainstream on both coasts, DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson had revived a forgotten musical form, disco, and adapted it to the environment of gay clubs like the Warehouse. The result was a spacey, electronic sound, released on local labels like Trax and DJ International: funkier and more soulful than techno, but futuristic. As soon as it was marketed in the U.K. as house in early 1987, it because a national obsession with No. 1 hits like "Love Can't Turn Around" and "Jack Your Body."House irrevocably turned around English pop music. After the successes of these early records by Steve "Silk" Hurley and Farley "Jackmaster" Funk (with disco diva Darryl Pandy), pop music was dance music, and, more often than not, futuristic black dance music at that. The apparent simplicity of these records coincided with the coming onstream of digital technology whereby, in Atkins's words, "you have the capability of storing a vast amount of information in a smaller place." The success of the original house records opened up more trends: acid house --featuring the Roland 303-- was followed by Italian house, and later, Belgian New Beat's slower, more industrial dance rhythms.
"The U.K. likes discovering trends," Rushton says. "Because of the way that the media works, dance culture happens very quickly. It's not hard to hype something up." House slotted right into the mainstream English pop taste for fast, four-on-the-floor black dance music that began with Tamla in the early '60s (for many English people the first black music they heard). In the '70s, obscure mid-'60s Detroit area records had been turned into a way of life, a religion even, in the style called "Northern Soul" by dance writer Dave Godin.
"I was always a Northern Soul freak," says Rushton. "When the first techno records came in, the early Model 500, Reese, and Derrick May material, I wanted to follow up the Detroit connection. I took a flyer and called up Transmat; I got Derrick May and we started to release his records in England. At that time, Derrick was recording on very primitive analog equipment: 'Nude Photo,' for instance, was done straight onto cassette, and that was the master. When you're using that equipment, you must keep the mixes very simple. You can't overdub, or drop too many things in; that's why it's so sparse.
"Derrick came over with a bag of tapes, some of which didn't have any name: tracks which are now classics, like 'Sinister' and 'Strings of Life.' Derrick then introduced us to Kevin Saunderson, and we quickly realized that there was a cohesive sound of these records, and that we could do a really good compilation album. We got backing from Virgin Records and flew to Detroit. We met Derrick, Kevin, and Juan and went out to dinner, trying to think of a name.
"At the time, everything was house, house house. We thought of Motor City House Music, that kind of thing, but Derrick, Kevin, and Juan kept on using the word techno. They had it in their heads without articulating it; it was already part of their language." Rushton's team returned to England with 12 tracks, which were released on an album called Techno! The New Dance School of Detroit, with a picture of the Detroit waterfront at night. At the time, it seemed like just another hype, but within a couple of months Kevin Saunderson had a huge U.K. hit with Inner City's pop oriented "Big Fun," and techno entered the language.--Jon Savage, The Village Voice Summer 1993 "Rock & Roll Quarterly" insert.
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