Anthems: Front, Hamburg (1982-1997)

Posted: January 5th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Down in a raw basement near Hamburg’s Berliner Tor station, Willi Prange and his partner Phillip Clarke opened the mostly gay oriented club Front in 1983. The majority of nights at Front were not played by guests, but by the main resident DJs Klaus Stockhausen and his successor Boris Dlugosch, who steered the club through the most cutting edge music the disco aftermath had to offer, until it eventually became one of the first clubs in Continental Europe to embrace house music and the styles that followed suit. The club’s intense nights were built on a wildly hedonistic and loyal crowd, a fierce quadrophonic sound system, a secluded DJ booth that seemed to antagonize the cult of personality of the years to come, and thus created a legacy that lasted well beyond the club’s closure in 1997. We asked Boris Dlugosch to guide us through the sound of the pivotal years of Front.

Shirley Lites – Heat You Up (West End, 1983)

This was one of my first lasting musical impressions at the club. Klaus Stockhausen played it nearly every Saturday then. It was more of an after hours record and it fitted perfectly.

Syncbeat – Music (Streetwave, 1984)

Klaus played this record when it came out, and when I started as a DJ in 1986 it had a small revival because I rediscovered it for myself. It was one of the most formative records for me. I did not know until then what this record was. I found it by chance in the club’s own record inventory. I loved this track very much and one day I could get a hold of it in a grab bag at Hamburg’s Tractor store for import records, where I was working at the time. Those bags were sealed and contained 10 records. I actually flicked through several other bags until I had two copies of it.

Connie – Funky Little Beat (Sunnyview, 1985)

This kind of Electro was the sound of Front from 1983 to 1984. I was not going to other clubs much, I was still too young and could not get in, but I heard this record on old tapes recorded live at the club (https://hearthis.at/front/). When I started going to Front from 1985 on this sound slowly faded away and was replaced by early house music.

Harlequin Four’s – Set it Off (Jus Born, 1985)

For me this was a quintessential Freestyle and Electro record. Klaus Stockhausen used to play it mostly as a break, often mixed with „Operattack“ by Grace Jones, or with space effects records. This and the Grace Jones album were milestones for my musical socialisation and they always worked on the floor.

Adonis – No Way Back (Trax, 1986)

This record and Farley Jackmaster Funk’s „Love Can’t Turn Around“ came out in 1986, shortly before I started playing at the club myself. At Front club changes in pace and style were elementary and the according setting was sometimes prepared over the course of hours, and sometimes just introduced by a quick break. House music brought along a different structure, and there was a steady beat for hours. At that time this was the defining new feature of the genre. Music was mixed seamlessly throughout the night at Front in all the years before, but with house music the rhythm became more homogeneous.

KC Flightt – Let’s Get Jazzy (TMT, 1987)

This is a hip house record from New Jersey but we were not thinking in such categories. All of a sudden it was in the record store, we listened to it and thought it was good. It was just different from the rest, and actually really great. A very special production as well.

Annette – Dream 17 (Deconstruction, 1988)

We played the original version and not the remix by Derrick May. I did not like the latter that as much. Because of the 303 bassline this was another acid house record for me at first, and not an early Detroit techno record.

Foremost Poets – Reasons To Be Dismal? (Nu Groove, 1990)

This was one of THE greatest Front anthems. I heard it first on a Tony Humphries tape and then discovered it in a box by a distributor at Tractor. That was an incredible moment. Then I had to wait for a few days more before I could play it at the club myself, at last. And the floor, as expected, went completely wild the first time I did.

Dream 2 Science – My Love Turns To Liquid (Power Move, 1990)

There always were a few stylistic shifts during the night. Either with such deeper tunes, or hip hop, ragga or UK soul such as Soul II Soul or similar sounds. The crowd was very open for such changes and musical trips.

Break The Limits – Fire Away (Break The Limits, 1990)

There probably was a connection to UK sounds due to the proximity of Hamburg to it. When this came out I had not yet been to London, but Klaus Stockhausen sure brought some records back from there. I played what Hamburg’s record stores could offer.

Fila Brazilia – Mermaids (Pork, 1991)

A night at Front lasted 7 to 8 hours and both the DJs and the crowd would probably have been bored with just pushing forward all the way through. It was just the way it was at the club. We started slowly, welcomed our dancers, and then took them with us musically.And then it went up and down for hours. I think I got this record as a white label at the Container Rec. Store. in Hamburg. I had absolutely no idea by whom it was and who gave it to me. I liked it, I played it, and the people loved it.

Electronic Beats 01/18



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