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 H 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:


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