Before British house and techno found its’ distinctive groove at the turn of the 1990s, one act led the way: Bang The Party, a trio who emerged from London’s vibrant underground party scene in the mid 1980s and proved, beyond any doubt, that UK producers could make music every bit as magical as the pioneering productions put forward by their counterparts in Chicago, Detroit and New York.
By the time long-running DJs and party promoters Kid Batchelor and Leslie Lawrence joined forces with trained engineer Keith Franklin at legendary North-West London reggae studio Addis Ababa in 1987, they’d spent years as DIY dance music activists in Britain’s capital city. They channelled these experiences and their love of imported house and techno sounds into a new project, Bang The Party, in the process becoming the first British act to appear on Transmat, a reflection of the quality and authenticity of their music.
The latest Rush Hour Reissue Series release offers a snapshot of some of the numerous gems nestled in the Bang The Party catalogue, delivering a much-deserved celebration of one of Britain’s most significant early acid house collectives. It features four fully remastered cuts recorded and released between 1987 and 1990 – on-point and far-sighted club workouts that sound as fresh and timeless now as they did when Britain was sweltering under its infamous ‘second summer of love’.
Fittingly, the EP begins with ‘I Feel Good All Over’, the group’s ground-breaking debut single. Dedicated to their home city and one of the earliest UK interpretations of house music, the track exists in the grey area between Chicago house and New York ‘garage house’ – all jaunty organ stabs, jacking Windy City beats, restless bass and soulful vocalizations. ‘Jacques Theme’, which follows, originally nestled on the B-side of that single release. An early, acid-flecked expression of hip-house with a British twist, breakdance-friendly bongo patterns and a dose of Larry Heard-inspired deep house dreaminess, the track remains an under-appreciated classic whose rap verses reflect the popularity of hip-hop in London at the time.
1988’s ‘Release Your Body’, Bang The Party’s most celebrated early release, was reissued in the United States by Transmat, reflecting the strong working relationship between Derrick May and Kool Kat Records’ Neil Rushton. A hypnotising affair propelled forwards by sweat-soaked drum machine beats, jacking fills and an addictive bassline, the track offers another near perfect distillation of the band’s Black American musical influences while delivering something genuinely new and fresh.
Rounding off the EP is a choice cut from Bang The Party’s sought after 1990 album Back To Prison. Doused in the star-lit synth sounds of the Motor City with jaunty organ stabs inspired by the kind of New Jersey jams championed at East Orange institution Club Zanzibar, ‘Let It Rip’ is a superb slice of deep house soul featuring a lead vocal every bit as emotive as anything laid down by Robert Owens. Like the rest of Bang The Party’s output, it has stood the time better than anything laid down by their London contemporaries.