Review: Acid House - The True Story by Luke Bainbridge

M ‘gets right on one matey’ with Luke Bainbridge’s Acid House - The True Story…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 22 Apr 2014
  • min read
It’s difficult to believe that going out dancing to electronic music was once a political act.

These days the dominance of electronic dance music (or EDM as it’s now known) in the charts seems unstoppable, ‘secret warehouse’ parties are ten a penny and beats and bleeps are the preferred soundtrack for global marketing campaigns. In 2014 dance music is very much the norm.

So when did dance music stop being dangerous? Didn’t it use to be, in the words of Shamen’s Mr C in their chart baiting ecstasy anthem Ebeneezer Goode, ‘naughty, naughty, very naughty’?

Luke Bainbridge, one time deputy editor of the Observer Music Monthly and Guardian journalist, uses his new book - Acid House - The True Story to take us in a tardis back to the late eighties when rave culture was young, daft and too busy having a good time to give a toss about how it looked or what anyone else thought.

The publication, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of acid house culture, takes the form of an oral history with many of the key players all giving their views on what happened (or at least what they can still remember).

With the likes of Terry Farley, Andrew Weatherall, Sasha, Mike Pickering, Graeme Park and Mark Moore all contributing, it’s a truly entertaining romp through some of the ridiculous (in certain cases, almost never-ending) highs of 1988 and 1989. As with any huge high, there usually has to be some form of down and acid house was no exception. The second Summer of Love was ultimately brought back to earth with a bump with guns, gangsters and the government all lining up to rip out the heart of a scene previously united by the power of amazing music and dancing.

Luke manages to nicely tie up the disparate views to paint a picture of a neon cultural landscape where the fresh club sounds booming through the Hacienda and Shoom combined with the influx of ecstasy to grab UK youth culture by the scruff of the neck. While the overall narrative may already be well known it’s the detail which makes it and how many of the main characters got into it (and out of it) purely by chance and circumstance.

Weatherall’s description of writing Primal Scream’s seminal Screamdelica album, the first visits to Ibiza by Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold, the spiritual, smoke-filled atmosphere of Shoom, the excess of characters such as Leonard the Dog who started barking at the peak of a night - all these tales paint a vivid, hair-raising story of the time. Plus the accounts of raves ending in riot police and tear gas and the dissection of anti-rave legislation in parliament seem at odds with the way we’re allowed to dance freely these days. It all adds up to a great snapshot of a wildly creative and exciting time. Fingers crossed it won’t be the last occasion such a cultural revolution hits us…

Visit the Omnibus Press website to find out how to get your hands on a copy...