It’s quite some going for a DJ to have an entire two-day annual festival named after them.
Sure, several curate their own events – Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide, say – but could anyone else out there get away with the equivalent of the Andrew Weatherall Festival in the south of France this weekend? But then who else has achieved so much in so many fields as the man formerly known as Audrey Witherspoon, Emmet Prague, Lord Sabre, Rude Solo, The Chairman and The Major?
He was the rockist grit in the oyster of Shoom and the Boy’s Own Organisation (as you can see from his brilliantly punky sneer in this vintage Boy’s Own interview). He stormed the studio with zero training and immediately hit paydirt with his remixes for the Mondays and Primal Scream (smashing up the latter’s cheery-sad Stones ripoff ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ and building ‘Loaded’ from the pieces), and has never looked back since.
As a member of the original acid house mafia and a startling talent on both the ones and the twos, he could easily have taken the superstar DJ route, but instead focused on running several mythical underground club nights – Sabresonic, Blood Sugar, Haywire Sessions and most recently A Love From Outer Space.
He’s produced plenty of great records, whether for bands (from The Scream and One Dove through to Fuck Buttons) or under his own steam (as Sabres of Paradise with Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns, Lords Of Afford with David Hedger, Blood Sugar and Deanne Day with David Harrow, Two Lone Swordsmen with Keith Tenniswood, Asphodells with Timothy J. Fairplay, or solo).
And he’s no slouch as a writer, turning in scabrous, funny and weird journalism and creative writing of his own over the years, as well as collaborating with author Michael Smith to soundtrack his book Unreal City and eventually becoming artist in residence for publishers Faber & Faber.
But it’s as a radical remixer that he really catapulted into the public consciousness, and his desire to turn other people’s songs inside out has remained strong right up to the present. Dub, punk, techno, rockabilly, ambient, psych-rock, disco, the experimentation of Joe Meek and Phil Spector, and quite likely several kitchen sinks, have all been thrown into a remix oeuvre that belongs to him at least as much as it does to any of the acts who provided the source material.
So as The Chairman, now 51, celebrates a quarter of a century ripping the guts out of other people’s music and his fellow misfits pay tribute to him in an actual castle, we present 30 glorious examples of his ornery art.
My Bloody Valentine
‘Soon (Weatherall Mix)’
It was the height of baggy and indie-dance – movements which Weatherall and Paul Oakenfold’s remix of the Happy Mondays’ ‘Hallelujah’ had helped to blow into the mainstream – and every man and his dog was looping a breakbeat over whichever jangly indie band came their way. But it was a foretaste of how exploratory Weatherall would be that he went straight for the loudest, most intense and sonically fucked guitar band of the era, and created a dancefloor beast from the first single from the notorious Loveless album.
‘Only Love can Break your Heart (A Mix of Two Halves)’
Of course, this Neil Young cover is one of the most beautiful songs from the initial flush of UK acts who were inspired by the Balearic aesthetic. The remix is an early example of the fact that Weatherall could be respectful to a song when necessary, in this loping stoner dream he draws it out and out before dropping the could-be-cheesy-but-isn’t “easing a spliff from his lyrical lips” sample then turning it all upside down again.
Meat Beat Manifesto
‘Psyche out (Sex Skank Stripdown)’
While a lot of early Weatherall remixes could be dramatic and maximalist, this one reined everything in and – although he was at this time not a techno lover at all – hinted forward to a lot of his more minimal excursions. With its relentlessly mechanical 2-note dub bassline and abstracted harmonica, it still sounds completely outside of time and works as fearsomely well in a club as does its flip, MBM’s rave-destroying ‘Radio Babylon’
‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It (Scat Mix)’
Weatherall and the Scream have had a long and fruitful relationship, and whatever you think of the band’s more rock-bore aspects, whenever they’ve hooked up with him it’s tended to create gold. We could have picked any Screamadelica moment, the astonishing intergalactic harpsichords on the ‘Higher Than the Sun (American Spring Mix)’ or various more recent hookups like the surprisingly disco-dollyish ‘Uptown’ remix from 2008. But this is the one that had us chair-raving in the FACT office and still sounds like the most unabashedly joyous expression of the hope and madness of its time.
‘101 (Intensity mix)’
The Scottish industrialists Finitribe found themselves unexpected Balearic heroes when their 1986 bell-sampling ‘De Testimony’ got picked up by Alfredo in Amnesia, Ibiza and then all the British ne’er-do-wells who fell for his style. They capitalised on it brilliantly with their early 90s albums, and this huge track which was remixed several times over by 808 State’s Graham Massey and by Weatherall including this vast breakbeat version which samples the spoken vocal from C’hantal’s deranged NYC house anthem ‘The Realm’ from the year before.
‘Skunk Funk (Cabin Fever Dub)’
Weatherall and marijuana have always had a fairly productive relationship, as exemplified on this shamelessly bloodshot pile-up of clattering and booming – which bore very little relationship to the chugging funk of the original, or indeed to anything outside its own stoned world.
‘Breakdown Sabres Mix (Black Squire Rides Out)’
One Dove’s Morning Dove White – produced by Weatherall – remains one of the most criminally under-appreciated albums of the early 1990s, and there are various excellent remixes scattered across their 12”s too. Even though it’s a dubwise excursion, stripping away Dot Allison’s pure voice, it perfectly captures the elegiac comedown mood of their songs and expands the ambition of the songwriting into a dreamlike zone where Lee Scratch Perry, Dolly Parton, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Mantronix all lolled around on beanbags having deep and meaningfuls.
The Sabres of Paradise
‘Smokebelch II (Beatless mix)’
Utterly ubiquitous now thanks to 1,000 chillout compilations and travel show trailers, but utterly gorgeous, still.
Leftfield & Lydon
‘Open Up (I Hate Pink Floyd Mix)’
This and the next entry might just be the highpoints of the Sabres Of Paradise era, certainly in terms of remixes. The dub bassline was always at the heart of Weatherall’s modus operandi and, as when he brought Jah Wobble on board with Primal Scream, the chance to connect with his post/punk heroes was something he made the most of – so when he got to work with the demon-muezzin wail of John Lydon, he REALLY rose to the occasion.
‘Regret (Sabres Slow’n’Low)’
More legends of the postpunk era, another dubwise remake that stays perfectly true to the spirit and melody of the original yet recontextualises it dramatically… and perhaps the single saddest track in Weatherall’s remix catalogue.
‘Destination Africa (Electric Forest Version)’
The Lords Of Afford duo with David Hedger didn’t do a huge amount, but what they did was mighty fine. This remix of a track from Tony “Moody Boyz” Thorpe’s Product of the Environment album is as rich and complex an ambient backroom weird-out as was made by anyone in this period.
Slab were Lol Hammond, sometime of The Drum Club, and Nina Walsh, Weatherall’s sometime significant other and convener of the Sabrettes label. They specialised in quite aggro breakbeaty electro-techno. This remake of their ‘Atom Smasher’ is every bit as stark as the ‘Psyche Out’ remix, but with a hint of Yorkshire bleep’n’bass, and some swooshing noises that suck you deeper and deeper in to its repetitions.
‘-3′ (Emissions 1)’
More dub, more space, more electronic edge, deeper down the rabbit hole. Things were getting darker and weirder by this time, and this remix for Glasgow’s Soma label, done as Blood Sugar with David Harrow, has barely a hint of Balearic sunshine left. What it DOES have, though, is one of the finest, simplest basslines known to mankind, a strange blend of funky drumming and Basic Channel radiance, and some extraordinary levels of beauty despite its cold strangeness. The first of three Blood Sugar remakes on the release, and it’s well worth hearing all in a row for the full inward voyage.
‘Come Together (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix)’
The mid-late 90s saw Weatherall slacking off in the studio, at least in comparison to his previous Stakhanovite remixing ethic. It may simply be that he was happy lording it over his own club sessions (and the many Blood Sugar DJ mixes that you can find online are testament to the fact these were incredible affairs), it may be that he was deliberately retreating from the fray as his acid house contemporaries disappeared up their own egos, or it may have been the general comedown from the early 90s creative and narcotic purple patch. It wasn’t from any ebbing of talent, though, and when he and Keith Tenniswood’s TLS guise began to take off, the fire was lit again. This is as fine a Kraut-dub waltz as anyone has ever made.
‘All Exhale (Rude Solo remix)’
Rude Solo was nominally Weatherall’s solo production guise but this is essentialy a Two Lone Swordsmen remix – and as good a demonstration of the freaky electo-purist bass-wobbling sound that defined their Haywire Sessions as any.
‘Nin-Com-Pop (T.L.S. Rmx)’
I’m actually kicking myself that I forgot this when we were doing the FACT “indietronica” list – it literally gets no more indietronic than this, right?
‘The Mezz (The Chairman’s Remix)’
The two halves of TLS – Keith aka Radioactive Man and Andrew aka The Chairman – separated then reunited, for this remix on their Rotters Golf Club label. More even than that Luke Slater remix, this one captures the utter brainwarp of the electro that they were rolling out at the Haywire Sessions, every surface crawling with laser-zapping digital worms and tendrils of self-replicating ketamine organisms that you find burrowing into your brain at every turn.
‘Good Souls (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix)’
A reminder that, for all his shapeshifting, there are constants in Weatherall’s work, and he’s never been afraid of revisiting past formulae if they work. This harks back to his remixes of indie bands a decade previously, moody song structures elongated and expanded over a dub framework – and it works as well as it ever did.
‘Dexter (Two Lone Swordsmen Mix)’
How gloriously perverse for the generally heavily electronic TLS to remix a track from the even more heavily electronic Villalobos into a rock record. But then “gloriously perverse” is the definition of Weatherall’s career. Sounds like The Cure and Joy Division. Is brilliant.
‘Into a Swan (Weatherall Remix)’
Seems like 2007 saw Weatherall rediscovering his (rarely, to be fair, neglected) inner punk, following the dissolution of TLS. His remix of the fleetingly-hip XX Teens from the same year is a gloriously aggro, but this fierce beast of an on-edge groover – which plays with all the transformation imagery in the lyrics halfway through to metamorphose from postpunk into glorious bassline techno – saw him doing justice to fellow punky squarepeg Siouxie’s unique voice.
‘The Legacy (Andrew Weatherall Mix)’
There’d always been a rockabilly element to Weatherall’s music, and it was around this time that his enormous quiff and vintage 7” collection came into their own for some brilliant pub DJ sessions. His reworking of Trentemøller’s typically Lynchian ‘Even Though You’re With Another Girl‘ was one example of how this seeped into his studio work, and the fantastically scratchy rockabilly guitar on this nifty little disco-dub-postpunker was another.
‘Sweet Love for Planet Earth (Andrew Weatherall remix)’
If you’d told a raver in 1990 that the Olympics in 22 years time would be soundtracked by a band called Fuck Buttons, and that that band would have achieved significant success making music that sounded like an Italo-disco Stooges produced by Andrew Weatherall, they’d have looked at you funny, one imagines.
‘H.A.L. (Andrew Weatherall Disco Dub)’
Probably the best of all Weatherall’s postpunk disco-not-disco efforts, and easily the equal of anything on e.g. DFA.
‘Heathen Child (Andrew Weatherall Bass Mix)’
It’s Nick Cave going “WOOOOOOOH!” a lot. It’s a walloping great rock drumbeat. It’s Weatherall going doolally with the echo boxes and dub sirens. It’s a womwomwomwomwom pseudo-dubstep throb. In what way was this ever going to be anything other than dynamite?
‘Boys Outside (Weatherall Dub 1)’
Another return to the indie-rock-dub formula that served Weatherall so well over the years, but this time building a bridge from the early indie-dance days to his more recent obsession with simple lo-fi drum machine patterns. Ends up sounding like a dream-team collision between Throbbing Gristle and PiL with Mason’s Beta Band harmonies swooping through it.
‘Watch Me Dance (feat. Roots Manuva) (Andrew Weatherall Remix)’
Again with the postpunk rumble and bash, but this time energised with a hefty dose of acid house, italo-disco and detuned funk, plus a mean injection of feedback squeal just in case anyone was getting too comfortable on the dancefloor.
‘Mania Theme (Andrew Weatherall Remix)’
The A Love From Outer Space sessions that have become Weatherall’s base lately have been built on sub-120bpm chug – the sort of pace that allows seasoned night-crawlers to step their way happily through the shadows and into the small hours of the morning. You could call it a kind of maturity to his sound, if it didn’t have the kind of belligerent punky impact that producers half his age sweat their guts out to try and achieve.
‘Come Save Me (Andrew Weatherall Remix)’
Still as psychedelic as ever – as with his remix of Toy, also from last year, this one sees Weatherall with as much of an ear for a great just-off-centre indie song that he can grapple into twisted new dancefloor forms.
Daniele Baldelli & DJ Rocca
‘Complotto Geometrico (Andrew Weatherall Remix)’
What goes around comes around and goes around again. Baldelli is the DJ whose 80s sets are the bridge between Krautrock and Alfredo, and its fitting that he and Weatherall in conjunction should create a track that show how, in the eternal now of the dancefloor, the shock of the old can be as strong as the shock of the new.
Atari Teenage Riot
‘J.One M.One (Andrew Weatherall Remix)’
What do you do with the noisiest, shoutiest electronic act of them all? Well, you COUD create a glossy fusion of Newcleus and The Cure if you wanted, and if you did you’d show that slow and subtle dance music still has the power to shock and thrill.