THE HACIENDA AND ITS MUSIC-THE HACIENDA COMPILATIONS.

THE HACIENDA AND ITS MUSIC-THE HACIENDA COMPILATIONS.

Recently, I’ve been reading Peter Hook’s book The Hacienda How Not To Run A Club  Properly, which tells of the trials and tribulations of being part-owner of one of the most innovative, important and successful clubs ever. For anyone considering launching a club, or even club night, it’s vital reading. It tells of every pitfall that lurk round every corner for the budding nightclub owner. Over a fifteen year period, The Hacienda went from primarily a venue for bands, with discos at the weekend, to the most successful club in the world. During that period, Hooky tells of some of the biggest bands of the time playing the club, the Acid House era, constant financial problems, gangsters infiltrating the club and ultimately, insolvency and the clubs closure. However during the problems and sometimes chaos, the club played host to some wonderful nights, where some of the biggest bands and later, DJs played. What really put the club on the map was Acid House. That’s what most people remember the club for, and since the clubs closure, three compilations have documented the music played at The Hacienda during this time. After I’ve told you about the club’s history, I’ll review these compilations.

The Hacienda was launched in 1982, the result of a partnership between New Order, Hooky’s band and Factory Records run by Tony Wilson. The club was situated at 11-13 Whitworth Street West, Manchester, a former yacht showroom, that was transformed by architect Ben Kelly, into one of the most innovative clubs ever. When the club was finished in 1981, it cost £344,000. However, it’s design was unlike anything ever seen before. Ben Kelly turned the former yacht showroom into what would become the most famous club in the world during the Acid House years. 

When the club opened in 1982, it was oven seven days a week, to give the young people of Manchester somewhere to go throughout the day. It was somewhere you could go for a drink, a meal, meet friends, see a band or go to dance. However, at the start there was a problem, a lack of customers. For the first five years, the club wasn’t the busiest club in Manchester. Little did the owners know that five years later, things would change, and The Hacienda would find fame worldwide.

Between 1982 and 1997, The Hacienda played host to some of the biggest bands of the time. Groups like The Smiths, Primal Scream, Oasis, The Stone Roses and Hooky’s own band New Order all played at The Hacienda. Madonna even played her first UK concert there, lip synching to on The Tube, a popular music program from that time. During the period, from 1982-1987, The Hacienda was hardly the busiest club in the UK, even though it was easily the most innovative. 

It was only when Acid House burst onto the scene during 1987, that the club at last, became a huge success. The Hacienda was responsible for introducing the North West of England to Acid House, which launched the popularity of dance music. Clubbers at The Hacienda had been introduced to house music in 1986 by DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering. This was as a result of policy that saw all kinds of music played by DJs at the club. Gradually, they “educated” clubbers to the new music that was arriving from Chicago. Park and Pickering played house music during their legendary Nude club nights held on Fridays. This night help to transform the club’s fortunes, and suddenly, the club was packed every Friday night. 

The success of Nude led to a number of other club nights at the club. Hot, hosted by Mike Pickering and John De Silva was The Hacienda’s Ibiza night which started in July 1988. Other nights included The Temperance Club hosted by Dave Haslam, which like Nude, would become one of the most successful and longest running club nights. During these nights, DJ’s would play a variety of different types of music. It was almost an anything goes policy. If the record fitted in with previous one, and kept people dancing, that was fine. This meant that DJs would play house, soul, funk hip-hop and disco all on the one night. Nowadays, that’s almost unheard of, with many DJs just resorting to playing the same genre of music during their sets. 

During these club nights, people came from far and wide. The Hacienda was known worldwide, with Newsweek featuring the club on its front cover and calling it the world’s most famous club. People came in their thousands, not just from all over the UK, but worldwide. Once in the club, they could stand next to, and dance beside some of Manchester’s most famous faces. This was because the club chose not to have a VIP area. Everyone was equal once inside, everyone there to enjoy the cutting edge music and legendary atmosphere. One problem with the nights is that people didn’t consume huge amounts of alcohol. This meant the club weren’t making any money from the bar. All most people wanted to drink was bottled water, and the club didn’t sell bottled water. As a result, most of the money the club made, was people paying to enter the club. Much of the money made inside the club was going to other people namely drug dealers, selling ecstasy, which for many people helped fuel their night’s dancing. 

With Acid House came a problem, drugs. Ecstasy was the dancers drug of choice, and in July 1989, tragedy occurred at the club when a sixteen year old girl died from an allergic reaction to a tablet she’d taken before entering the club. During the Acid House years, and after them, the amount of drugs being consumed inside the club grew. This lead to the police taking an interest into what was going on in The Hacienda after new legislation was introduced. The owners tried to regulate things, and ensure that drugs were confiscated. However, by now the drugs problem had grown and it was getting worse each year. By now, local gangsters had discovered the popularity and profitability of clubbing. When they moved in things changed, for the worst.

After the local gangs infiltrated The Hacienda, things took a turn for the worse. Gradually, the violence increased, the gangsters beating up and robbing drug dealers, and eventually, taking over the drug dealing within the clubs. Sometimes, there would be inter-gang violence taking place within the club, with gangsters settling scores. Occasionally, members of the public would be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and be subjected to violence. As all this took place, the security staff struggled to cope with the situation. The owners resorted to hiring people who had the respect of those causing the trouble. However, eventually, on 30th January 1991, the club closed its doors temporarily due to the violence. Although it reopened on 10th May 1991, the problem would continue to be a problem until the club closed.

On 28th June 1997, Dave Haslam was DJ for what would be the last ever night at The Hacienda. Unknown to those who were there, that would be the final night of The Hacienda. Sadly, in June 1997, the club closed due to financial problems. These financial problems had been a recurring problem since the club opened and had resulted in Factory Records and New Order constantly having to provide finance to keep the club solvent. However, after Factory Records became insolvent in 1992, New Order, were responsible for financing the club. Gradually, the various members of New Order lost faith in the club, and latterly, Peter Hook was the only member of the band who provided finance to club. Together with New Order’s manager Rob Gretton, the pair tried to keep the club open. By June 1997 Hooky realized that he couldn’t go on pouring money into what Joy Division and New Order producer Martin Hannett had called “a hole in the ground called The Hacienda.” However, for fifteen years, The Hacienda played host to some of the biggest bands of that era, and was responsible for introducing Acid House to the North West of England. During the Acid House years, The Hacienda became the most famous club in the world, attracting clubbers from not just all over the UK, but worldwide. From far and wide, clubbers made what were almost pilgrimages to The Hacienda, to enjoy the club’s legendary atmosphere. Having told you about the club’s eventful history, and the important part in played in the history of dance music, I’ll now review the three Hacienda compilations.

THE HACIENDA CLASSICS.

The Hacienda Classics was the first of the three Hacienda compilations. Ironically, it was launched in May 1997 as the club celebrated its fifteenth birthday with a party. It features a wide range of music, which celebrates the different genres of music played at the various club nights. There are forty-seven tracks on the triple cd, which when it was released retailed at £27. Now the album is a valuable collectors item, changing hands for quite large sums of money. It was released on EMI and features some of the biggest hits of the Acid House era. I’ll now pick four of my favorite tracks from the album, and in keeping with The Hacienda’s music policy pick different types of tracks.

Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald is my first choice and it begins with a female vocal ad-libbing, accompanied by pounding, electronic sounding drums, before a squelchy synth line appears. It has a slight echoey sound, as the vocal sits above the drums and synth. Later, a male vocal cuts in, repeating Voodoo Ray over the female vocal. The arrangement gets fuller, various samples accompanying the synths, drums and vocals. Sounds and samples flit in and out of the track, which is perfectly suited for the dancefloor. Its tempo is 120 beats per minute, the sound nicely repetitive, with a lovely hypnotic and catchy sound. Although Voodoo Ray was one of the early Acid House tracks, made at home using just a synth and samples, it has stood the test of time well and still sounds great today.

Ride On Time by Black Box was a track that wasn’t just huge in the clubs, but was a huge chart hit. Drums, synths, handclaps can be heard before the hugely powerful vocal enters. When it enters accompanied by a really quick accurate bass line, you can’t help but be impressed by the power and passion of the vocal. It’s accompanied by backing vocalists, who provide a contrast to the power and passion of the lead vocal. Later in the track, there’s a breakdown where drums pound powerfully, and the vocal builds back up, before dropping out again. As the track ends, applause greets the track, and it’s richly deserved. It’s a fantastic track, especially the vocal, which mixes passion and power wonderfully.

Love Can’t Turn Around by Farley “Jackmaster” Funk and Jesse Saunders was one of the tracks that came out of Chicago during the early days of Chicago house. A vocal reverberates accompanied by echoey drums and the trademark synth line at the start of the track. It’s a dark, powerful sound, until the vocal enters. That changes things, so does the piano playing, which reminds me of Italian piano house. Synths growl, and squelch, emitting a series of beeps as drums pound. Whistles are blown, as the arrangement fills out, growing to a magical, melodic, combination of synths, drums, piano and vocals, complete with samples, percussion and handclaps. By the end you realize that this is one of the tracks that defines what Chicago house was all about in its formative years. 

Let the Music Play (Original 12” Mix) by Shannon is my final choice from this album. For me, it epitomizes the anything goes music policy of The Hacienda and Acid House. It’s keyboards and drums that opens the track, producing a sound that’s melodic, catchy and full of hooks, but reminiscent of the eighties electronic sound with Acid House sounding synths. When Shannon sings, her voice is high and clear and she sings the lyrics well. This version isn’t the original single, it’s a remix for the 12 inch version. Although the arrangement sounds slightly dated, it’s still a great track that features a good vocal from Shannon, and can still fill a dancefloor. 

I’ve always loved The Hacienda Classics CDs as they remind me of the music of the Acid House era. What I particularly like about the music on the three discs, is how wide ranging it is. There’s everything from indie rock, disco and Acid House over three discs and features music from Primal Scream, 808 State, Orbital , K-Klass and Candi Staton. It’s an album that’s well worth buying if you’re either someone who went to The Hacienda or loved Acid House music. It’ll bring the memories flooding back, it certainly does for me. My only minor quibble with the album is that as the first track on each album plays, an introduction from either Rob Gretton, Tony Wilson, Mike Pickering or Martin Hannett can be heard over the music. It would have been better if this had been a separate short track, rather than over the tracks. As I say minor quibble, but don’t let that spoil your enjoyment. Standout Tracks: Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald, Ride On Time by Black Box, Love Can’t Turn Around by Farley “Jackmaster” Funk and Jesse Saunders and Let the Music Play (Original 12” Mix) by Shannon.

THE HACIENDA CLASSICS.

VOLUME 1 THE HACIENDA.

Volume 1 The Hacienda was released in 2006 by Gut Records and is a two-disc set featuring twenty-three tracks. There are a couple of tracks that feature on The Hacienda Classics compilation, but the rest of the tracks are different. The choice of music isn’t as wide ranging on this compilation. Unlike The Hacienda Classics, there are no hands in the air disco classics from Candi Staton, Shannon or Loleatta Holloway. Instead, there are numerous Acid House classics and a sprinkling of hip-hop and Latin influences. Overall, it’s a good overview of the music from that time. I’ll now pick my favorite tracks from the compilation.

Dirty Talk by Klein and MBO is my first choice from this album. It’s a track that had a  huge influence of New Order when they first heard it in New York, and provided the inspiration for their classic dance track Blue Monday. Bass, drums and synths combine at the start of the track, with a guitar playing at the top of the track. After the introduction a loud synth solo plays, accompanied by a myriad of drums, bass and keyboards. Mainly, it’s the synth that you’re aware of, with everything else playing in the background. Later, Percussion and handclaps appear, and several times there are mini-breakdowns during the track, after which, keyboards and synths play. They produce, a melodic, catchy and almost hypnotic mixture of space age and futuristic sounds. For six and a half minutes brilliant minutes, Klein and MBO produce one of the best dance tracks in the past thirty years. Regardless of how many times you hear it, subtle nuances and hidden musical secrets reveal themselves to you.  

Pacific State by 808 State sweeps into being with keyboards and a wailing horn sample, before crisp, drums pound to a backdrop of sound effects. Then a keyboard plays, it’s sound melodic, as it produces a much lighter sound. Together with the bass, drums and that horn sample that started the track it’s a potent combination. It’s a hugely catchy track, so catchy it’s almost infectious. Much of this is down to the combination of drums and repeated introduction of the “horn” sound. Here, the bass part is used as a melodic part of the song in its own right, with the horn sound the counterpoint. As the track progresses, various sound effects and samples emerge from the arrangement, introducing variety and the element of surprise. For the most part drums and synths combine, and unlike Dirty Talk, Pacific State is a much slower track. Since its release, it has become something of a classic, featuring on numerous compilations, including various chill out compilations. 

Beach (Original 12’ Mix) by New Order opens with a combination of an echoey sound and vocals uniting, singing and holding one note. Thereafter, it’s a mixture of drums and synth complete with Bernard’s vocal sung through a vocoder. The tempo is quick, the sound brilliantly repetitive, complete with a fantastic bass line courtesy of Hooky. Sound effects reverberate, crashes of thunder appear as the track progresses, handclaps, bass, synths and drums combining masterfully. Throughout the track, so much happens, it’s almost impossible to hear everything. Sometimes, you hear something, only for it to disappear, to be replaced by something else. There are so many musical textures here, layer upon layer of magnificent music unfolds over seven and a half minutes. Although this isn’t the original version of the track, it’s the Original 12’ Mix, which was made specifically for the dancefloor, it’s a great mix, one that transforms the track, and one that used to sound great in any club.

Where Love Live (Original 12” Classic Club Mix) Alison Limerick starts with a lengthy piano solo before crisp, crunchy drums and bass combine. The tempo is quick, the bass pounding, drums reverberate and then Alison Limerick slowly sings the vocal. Her vocal is strong and clear, as she’s then accompanied by the piano. Quickly, here voice strengthens and gets louder. A synth and combine when her vocal drops out. Backing vocalists accompany her, singing call and response occasionally. Alison has a fantastic voice and has sung on a number of house tracks. Here, she produces a great performance, matched by an equally good arrangement. It’s full of squelchy and sweeping synths, a pounding bass, crisp, crunchy drums and some great piano playing. Overall, it’s a powerful, impressive and melodic vocal house track thanks to Alison Limerick.

Although Volume 1 The Hacienda doesn’t feature the same wide range of tracks that he Hacienda Classics featured, it does feature some fantastic tracks. All of these tracks are the full length versions, unlike some compilations which feature shortened versions. Many of the tracks will be familiar to veterans of the Acid House years, but you may not have heard some of the mixes. The good thing about this compilation is that apart from a couple of tracks, there all different to the ones on he Hacienda Classics. Even the ones that are duplicated are so good that they couldn’t be omitted. After all, could you have a Hacienda compilation without Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald? This album is still available, and is well worth buying. It’s an inexpensive way to buy twenty-three great tracks, including some of the best Acid House tracks you’ll ever hear. Standout Tracks: Dirty Talk by Klein and MBO, Pacific State by 808 State, Beach (Original 12’ Mix) by New Order and here Love Live (Original 12” Classic Club Mix) Alison Limerick.

VOLUME 1 THE HACIENDA.

THE HACIENDA ACID HOUSE CLASSICS.

The Hacienda Acid House Classics was released in 2009 on New State Entertainment. It’s the third and final of the Hacienda compilations. Unlike the other two albums, this one is mixed by Peter Hook former New Order bassist, now a celebrity DJ. His mixing on the album is good, it’s tight and their are no major DJ-ing faux passes. What makes the album, is the selection of music. Over two discs, Hooky mixes together twenty-six Acid House classics. Again, there are some tracks that are on the other albums, but don’t let that put you off because there are some brilliant tracks on the two discs. I’ll now pick my personal favorites from the two discs.

Baby Wants To Ride by Frankie Knuckles is my first choice from this compilation. It begins with synths and drums combining before the vocal enters. The sound is full as two vocalists combine to sing the vocal. Synths are squelchy, drums crisp pound, as a really atmospheric, almost sensual vocal is sung. Throughout the track, it reverberates, wave upon wave of synths accompanying the by now, sleazy vocal. Although this is only a shorter version of the track, it still delivers the impact of the sensual, later sleazy vocal and the combination of synths and drums provides a powerful and full backdrop. Frankie Knuckles was one of Chicago house’s pioneers and innovators, and this track gives a taster of what his music sounds like.

Washing Machine by Mr Fingers is a track that relies heavily on ultra squelchy synths and drums. This is apparent when the track bursts into life. This is followed by a muted vocal that sits atop the mix. Later, strings sweep in, introducing another atmospheric spoken world sample. This too, is accompanied by synths and drums, and as the sample ends, so too, does the track. Although just over two minutes long, it’s two brilliant minutes that demonstrate what can be achieved with synths, drums and samples.

Two the Max by Jack Frost and The Circle Jerks bursts into life a myriad of beep and strange sounds courtesy of Mr Roland’s finest synths. The tempo is quick, as synths and drums combine, various beeps and sound effects being emitted from the arrangement. Sounds sweep out from an arrangement that is both brilliantly repetitive and really catchy. After you’ve heard it several times you just can’t get it out of your head. Later in the track, the drum sound becomes stronger, more prominent in the mix. However, the sound is merely a variation on a theme, albeit one that’s ultra catchy, strangely melodic and absolutely brilliant. Very definitely, proof that less is more.

Rock To the Beat by Reese and Antonio is a track that drives powerfully along from the opening bars. Drum and synths, combine to drive the track along, with the sound muted at the start, just a few beeps and sound effects emerging from the arrangement until a vocal appears. Quickly it drops out, to be replaced by another otherworldly synth made sound. When the vocal reappears, the sound fills out, becomes much fuller, more melodic. Drums move to the front of the mix, accompanying the vocal, filter being used on the track, cutting out the vocal and drums, towards the end of the track. Like the Mr Fingers’ track, this is another short track, and like the Jack Frost and The Circle Jerks track it relies heavily upon repetition. This doesn’t matter, as it’s a track that’s catchy, has a good vocal and is the perfect tempo for the dancefloor.

Like the two other compilations, The Hacienda Acid House Classics is full of some great tracks from the Acid House years. The only difference here, is that this is a mix CD. However, Peter Hook’s mixing is good, the choice of music good, including some really well known tracks, as well as having two surprises for you. At the start of each CD Hooky has recorded his own Acid House track, and they open each disc. together with Phil Murphy, they’ve released as Manray, Ways of Making Music and We’re On it. Both are just short tracks, but are true to the spirit of Acid House, and an interesting way to begin each disc. Overall, this album is well worth buying, two discs full of twenty-six great tracks, that will bring back memories of the glorious days of Acid House. Standout Tracks: Baby Wants To Ride by Frankie Knuckles, Washing Machine by Mr Fingers, Two the Max by Jack Frost and The Circle Jerks and Rock To the Beat by Reese and Antonio.

THE HACIENDA ACID HOUSE CLASSICS.

Although it’s fourteen years since The Hacienda closed, people are still interested in it. Three compilation albums featuring the music played in the club have been released, a book by Peter Hook The Hacienda How Not To Run A Club  Properly has been released and everything from t-shirts and trainers carry The Hacienda name. Hacienda club nights take place worldwide, such is the interest in The Hacienda still.  Memorabilia from the club is highly prized by collectors, and change hands for huge amounts of money. For people of my age, this is all about recapturing their youth, remembering a time when the 9-5, Monday to Friday, grind was made all worthwhile thanks to a few hours dancing the night away in The Hacienda. The three CDs that i’ve reviewed in this article The Hacienda Classics, Volume 1 The Hacienda and The Hacienda Acid House Classics, all bring back memories of that magical time. For less than the price of entry to a club that will never be in the same league as The Hacienda, you can recapture your youth and have them as a permanent reminder of the Acid House years. However, one man deserves a thank you for financing The Hacienda for much of its lifetime, Peter Hook. Without his generosity and subsidizing of the club, it wouldn’t have lasted until June 1997, instead it would’ve closed much sooner. So if you went to The Hacienda and meet him in Manchester, shake the man’s hand, and thank him for the good times that were had during the Acid House years.

1 Comment

  1. David

    just spent my morning having a nostalgic look back at my days in Manchester and visits to the hacienda. great music. hairs are standing up on the back of my neck listening to my music and reading your blog.

    Brilliant

    regards

    David w

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