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Customer Review

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the next generations' history manual, 23 Nov. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House (Five Star) (Paperback)
Matthew Collin with John Godfrey - Altered States (Serpent's Tail)
The result of years of hard work, this book written by pluri-collaborator to various magazines Matthew Collin with some precious help from John Godfrey is the first and best report on the Ecstasy and rave culture. From the first scene in Chicago and Detroit dominated by Frankie Knuckles, we move on to Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, to the birth of Acid House on the fuzzed synth rhythms of a Roland TB303 which sent out "coded radio signals to a sweaty nation" through Phuture' s hypnotic record "Acid Trax", which marked an era and a generation, though nobody is sure about where the name comes from ("some say it came from rumours that they were putting LSD in the water at the Music Box to make dancers even crazier(...); Marshall Jefferson insist that the record itself just sounded so weird that it was like a stimulated trip"). The scene moves then to Ibiza where Paul Oakenfold, Nick Holloway, John Walker and Danny Rampling, four DJs, immediately got hooked on a new scene and on a new drug, Ecstasy, the little pill first synthesised in 1912 by Merck in Germany. When they went back to Britain they brought with them the memories collected, the mew inspiration in the music and the new drug. From the first bleeping sound which came out of that Roland, we pass through the "Second Summer of Love", when everyone was "E-d up, loved up" and hugged bear dressed in fancy marvellously coloured clothes and happily danced in Spanish or British clubs wearing badges with the fateful smiley faces on. The illusion of a friendly environment then shuttered under the threats of the new laws such as the Bright Bill which forbade to organise raves and charged with £20,000 fines or six months of jail the organisers. The truth was in whizzkid Adamski's words: "People are making tax free money from raves and the government aren't getting a slice of the action like they do from nightclubs". For the Thatcher government is valid what Alexander Trocchi said "It is difficult to explain to the underprivileged that play is more serious than work". And probably it really is: in this case who was dancing was far more serious than who was governing, after all "Acid House broke with the conventions of all previous youth cultures because it wasn't a reaction against society like punk was. Or against other working-class groups like skinheads. It was pro-community, pro-drugs, pro-love and most of all pro-dreams. Admittedly it was in total opposition to the cruel anti-society value system instilled by Thatcherism" Dancing high on E at the raves became an act of political rebellion against the system, like Sound City City's rave under the Canary Wharf. The raves were then spoiled and used for commercial purpose. In 1994 raves were definitely banned through the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Collin explains with his clear and refined style why what is called chemical generation, with its mush revered poet laureate Irvine Welsh, is a generation of outlaws and gets deep down into the New Labour politics and the debate on drugs. This is the best report on the last years of our culture, a must either for those who were there partying face off some drug or for those who weren't there but always would have liked to know more about. This is already the second edition of the book and changes from the 1997 first edition from a few pages, but is equally precious pages. It's an essential book to buy even though there was a monthly edition with one and only update page each time. Collin is the responsible for the gut of all the more or less literate reports on the rave scene the editorial market spawned during the last months, since he reveal the "hows" of the rave and E culture, how it was born and how it developed and later splintered in different directions. Hoping that this will be the next generations' history manual
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