In 2008 around this time of the year New Beat celebrates its 20th anniversary. Back in 1987/88 it took a Split Second of confusion to create New Beat from A Split Seconds’ 1986 Flesh.
In the early days many people saw New Beat either as a cheap rip-off of EBM or just plain rubbish, a sick joke if you were a Rock addict. Schools got split up in a section that loved it and a camp that hated it. The hate camp was in the majority. I was curious, as ever, a bit confused and intrigued. In never took sides and listened to it in private.
I remember that even the popular radio for young people refused to play it, that’s why it gradually stopped listening to it and switched over to free independent radio and discovered a new world of adventurous leftfield sounds (thanx Radio Centraal). I stopped entirely a couple of years later when Grunge came along. I couldn’t understand why people would rather listen to Pearl Jam, or God forbid, Stone Temple Pilots (without a doubt one of the worst Rock bands ever together with the likes of The Scorpions) while at the same time a musical revolution was taking place. The more diverse sounds on today’s radio, at least in these parts, made me listen back to mainstream radio.
I remember New Beat very vividly. It was something completely different and new. I had some interest in electronic music back then without addressing it in such a way (popcorn, OMD, Soft Cell,… the usual suspects) and no real knowledge, I was too busy catching up with the history of mainstream Pop and Rock like Jimi Hendrix, Zappa,… to be really aware of what was happening at that time. But New Beat changed that, I jumped into the history of dance and electronic music and when I went to college a couple of years later I was ready for all the new exciting and now classic releases on the R&S label and early forms of jungle music. I still have that first sampler of Detroit Techno and treasure it. I hired it from the library but never took it back :-)
Right at the same time New Beat came on the scene, we saw the real popular exposure and rise of Hip-hop around these parts with the success of Public Enemy. These two diverse styles of music together with Frank Zappa were the origins of my musical tastes and active involvement back then. I still was in love with the disco music my older sister used to play but I kind of lost track of it and frankly I was also a bit ashamed of liking it. It was simply not done back then to like disco. Luckily today, I no longer know any shame ;-) disco’s back on top and so is New Beat. Everything comes back if you just wait long enough. Today many people see some value in it and assign it its rightful place as one of the many branches of the tree which we call electronic music.
Some people argue that Hard Boiled from The Human League is the first New Beat track but fact is that it all started when a certain DJ Marc Grouls played Flesh by mistake at 33 1/3 instead of the intended 45 rpm at the notorious Boccaccio club and people seemed to like it. He also pitched it up and as a result you end up with a very trance like slow tempo track at 100 to 120 bpm instead of the original uptempo one. Soon after that the first similar records were made and the whole movement was nicknamed New Beat. I say movement but in fact it wasn’t actually a movement. Pretty soon the sound got more diverse with injections of Acid and the then brand new Detroit Techno and while some people moved to the mainstream with a sound that resulted in a kind of commercial Eurodance others remained in the underground staying close to the principles and esthetic of Electronic Body Music that inspired New Beat in the first place.
A Split Second – Flesh (1986 original 45 rpm)
A Split Second – Flesh (1987 remix)
Frankie Knuckles Pres. Satoshi Tomiie & Robert Owens – Tears I promised you Tears by Robert Owens and Frankie Knuckles the last time but I forgot to ad it. So here it is.