29
Jan 09

Blog ’92: THE MUSIC WAS FANTASTIC

FT8 comments • 1,205 views

24. The Orb – Blue Room

It was a dark day when my tape of Rave’92 broke. Repeated rewinding and pausing had caused a hole to develop in the tape, and my rubbish cassette player refused to play it unless I wound it back manually and flipped it over to the other side. I ended up too scared to play the tape at all in case the whole thing spontaneously combusted.

Missing out on Praga Kahn was bad enough, but I was devastated at the loss of ‘Blue Room’. No more mesmerising dance routines incorporating several jumps off the ladder of my bunk bed. I had dreamed up accompanying visuals (just as I had done for ‘Assassin’): an underwater vista filled with shooting stars and bubbles, flicking montages of news channels and snippets of black and white films. I allowed myself to be completely absorbed into the music, to escape the harrowing pressures of… being eleven years old? Er, what?

Time for some explanatory psychological background! I was a bright kid, and often felt lonely while my sister was at university. Although I could entertain myself with books and telly and interpretive dance, my thoughts would often run away with themselves, worrying around in circles until I was convinced that I was the only person who spent any time Thinking About Things at all! Why didn’t anyone else seem to have a constant internal monologue? How did they manage to let life just wash over them without even noticing it? What if everyone else had psychic powers except me and that’s why they never said anything about it? I certainly couldn’t share any of this groundless meta-emo with anyone – they’d think I was weird AND a spod.

Of course it’s very likely that my peers had exactly the same level of uncommunicable self-awareness as I did, but perhaps with Take That as the backing track instead of The Orb. And sure enough, once we reached our teens, most of us finally plucked up the courage to switch from paranoid introspection to long meaningful chats about our innermost feelings, resulting in Dad making me cough up for all phone calls I made before 6pm.

Until the advent of these regular brain exchanges with my mates, I cherished The Orb’s sedative effect – obviously I wasn’t popping an aural valium to calm down from a night of excess, but to disconnect myself from mundane surroundings by fully concentrating on the music. It was so engrossing that for four crucial minutes I stopped worrying about whether God would hate me for fancying N1cky H4yden instead of Jesus, and arrived at the realisation that music was the most important thing in the world. I’m sure you can remember the moment when this happened to you, too.

Alas the fragility of material goods put a stop to such daydreaming: finding a replacement for my poor mangled Rave ’92 tape proved a luckless task. Grace had lost her original CD, and I had zero chance of finding it in the tiny Uxbridge Our Price. Worse still, U.F.Orb itself had the wrong version of ‘Blue Room’ – 17 minutes and no bassline*? WTF?

To get my chart dance fix I temporarily switched my allegiance to Best Dance Album In The World…Ever! (Parts 1 & 2) (which I had to play on the CD player in the sub-optimal living room environment), making up new dance routines to Usura and Felix instead. But it wasn’t long before Grunge and Britpop decreed that Rave’92 fully give up its prime position in my affections in favour of Elastica’s debut album (the tape of which suffered a similar destructive fate not long afterwards).

Fast-forward through years of indie wilderness to university: I finally had my own computer (with accompanying high speed internet connection). I desperately needed my familiar musical pacifier once more, and I hadn’t heard ‘Blue Room’ for so long that I elevated the quest to Holy Grail status: if I could just hear that bassline again I would be contented. My rudimentary attempts at using dodgy filesharing sites ended in dismal failure – in fact the resulting versions of ‘Blue Room’ seemed to get EVEN LONGER as punishment for my temptation. 35 minutes anyone?

Finally I caved in and splashed out some student loan on the (admittedly good value for money) U.F.Off – Best Of The Orb, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. 7″ edit bassline present and correct, tieing together all the train noises, hair metal guitar-soloing, radio static, ‘uwaaaaa-uwaa-ah’ vocals and pan pipe synths, building them up into a chattering whirlwind with a personality of its own. It still sends shivers down my spine.

I don’t think I will ever part with this old tape, covered in my sister’s handwriting:

Rave 92'

Advice from big sis

Anything that churns up enough memories to write a 24-part FT series is obviously worth treasuring! But when it broke it was like I had lost the key to a safe – it’s no good knowing what’s inside off by heart if you can’t get to it. So it was a lovely surprise when a couple of years ago, my friend Sean presented me with this (found on ebay, of course):

Rave 92

24 Massive Rave Hits Of The Year

This album has played such an important part in my life, and is as good a representation of my post-adolescent personality as any: loud, silly, obnoxious, embarrassing and talking too quickly, but every so often getting all wide-eyed and marvelling at how awesome the world is like a big old hippy.

Thanks for listening to me waffle on about it!

I’ve put together a playlist of all the videos on Youtube for your listening pleasure, but you can also watch the dolphin-tastic video to ‘Blue Room’ right here:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=yvJWC1FRMNs

*Courtesy of Jah Wobble, which I really should have guessed as responsible before writing this entry!

Comments

  1. 1
    Geoff on 29 Jan 2009 #

    Thanks for a great series of posts Kat, they’ve all dragged up a lot of happy memories of a 17 year old me equally obsessed with all this sort of thing (whilst being incredibly jealous of my big sister who actually got to dance to all these records in ACTUAL clubs while at uni while I just had to imagine it stuck at home in Canterbury.

    This was of course also one of the finest ever TOTP performances:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=0C9ku8gCm7w

    Marvellous stuff.

  2. 2
    Kat but logged out innit on 29 Jan 2009 #

    Thanks Geoff! They’ve been a pleasure to write.

    That must be one of the highlights in TOTP history I think, however I’m not sure I actually saw it until some years later. What I DEFINITELY did see though was ‘Toxygene’ where they were sat down cross-legged, spinning around on little turntables. Hurray! About a fortnight later I was listening to Dr Fox’s Jukebox on Capital FM (yes I know he is not a real doctor) and a girl who was about six or seven rang up and requested Whitney Houston or something for her mum, but when Dr Fox asked what was *her* favourite song at the moment she said ‘Toxygene’ and Dr Fox was all a-splutter. I gave her a round of applause from my bedroom.

  3. 3
    Tom on 29 Jan 2009 #

    I saw the cosmic chess TOTP when broadcast and was delighted: I was a huge fan of The Orb (and still think the 40 minute Blue Room single is one of the best things they ever did!) and in fact queued up to buy UFOrb at midnight on the day of release as a Tower Records signing! By the time we got in though Dr Alex and Thrash were extremely stoned and taking 5 minutes to sign each copy so things had ground to a halt and we just ended up buying the thing instead.

  4. 4
    SteveM on 29 Jan 2009 #

    I thought the TOTP “performance” was funny for the first 20 seconds at least. ‘Toxygene’ one was much better! Orb singles doing so well in the top 40 was v pleasing and they did sound like nothing else in the charts. I keep meaning to check out some more of their 00s stuff altho I know it’s a minefield and maybe not worth it just for what is probably only a handful of gems.

  5. 5
    Pete on 29 Jan 2009 #

    Oh how I heart the Orb. I was listening to their entire output on Spotify the other day and Adventures Beyond and UFOrb are still tremendous albums. Later work is spotty, but still remarkably Orby – And recent stuff in particular sounds more Ultraworldy (though of course that is now almost TWENTY YEARS OLD so not exactly cutting edge).

    I always regretted never seeing them live when they were at their peak (ie with Thrash, not that Thrash) but ABTU is still one of my favourite albums ever.

    And Blog ’92 is one of my favourite completed FT series ever too. Thanks Kat, its been a wonderful ride.

  6. 6
    Ben on 30 Jan 2009 #

    Excellent way to finish a really well-written series. Well done The Kat!

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 31 Jan 2009 #

    This has been a great series Kat!

    Along with the commentaries about each individual track, you really remind us of how few records we had when we were children, and how we really got to know them in such detail, and how when we hear some songs we always expect them to be followed by other ones thanks to formative compilations.

    ‘Toxygene’ is the great neglected Orb moment, by the way.

  8. 8
    Alfredo Sotomayor on 27 Oct 2009 #

    I’m a peruvian guy living in Florida and Lima. Now I’m 29 years my aunt send me this double tape when I was 13, that album change my life, I love rave music, electronic music. It was the first time that I listen something about “The prodigy” and many more. Is the record of my life.

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