This is the second album I have reviewed which takes dance music and reinterprets it in a live way. The first was my review of Pete Tong’s Classic House. Read on for my Hacienda Classical review.
Hacienda Classical Background
The Hacienda in Manchester is one of the all time greatest nightclubs and many of today’s electronic music artists got their inspiration from spending time at the Hacienda. The club was a place where DJs broke a completely new style of music upon the UK: acid house. This album compiles some of the iconic tunes from the early Hacienda days using real live musicians and singers.
The Hacienda Classical album is a project undertaken by Graeme Park, Mike Pickering, Peter Hook and is performed by the Manchester Camerata. Pickering and Park are two of the DJs who played regularly at the night “Nude” during its heyday. Hook, from the band New Order, helped to setup and finance the club. They return here with the Manchester Camerata a modern orchestra who revel in doing things that orchestras don’t normally do. Rowetta, Yvonne Shelton and the AMC Gospel Choir join the crew on vocal duties.
Hacienda Classical Review
Much like the Pete Tong album, Hacienda Classical keeps the tracks in a dance-floor friendly format. If you are expecting this to be a chill out album, think again! The live versions on this album pretty much stick to arrangement of the originals.
The album kicks off with “Carino” by T-Coy, “Someday” by Marshall Jefferson and “I’ll Be Your Friend” by Robert Owens. As side A of the album fades out it becomes clear just how similar the production of each track is. Somehow along the way the tracks have lost their original raw feeling. They sound more like the tracks you hear on electronic keyboards when you press the “demo” button.
Side B tries to liven things up by introducing some record scratching over the top of “Can U Dance” but it sounds almost comical. Classic after classic follow up such as “Rich In Paradise” by FPI Project, “Promised Land” by Joe Smooth and “Move Your Body”. The track selection is stellar but they are all rendered in a fairly boring, generic way and when “Blue Monday” and “Strings Of Life” come on it sounds like an hilarious tribute band that you might see down the pub.
There is something missing from the music that I can’t quite put my finger on. I like the originals (and would much prefer to hear them right now) am all for remixes, re-edits and live performances but I just can’t get on with this album.
Hacienda Classical is a disappointing album that I wanted to like but it just didn’t live up to expectations. There is no doubting the talent of the people involved but they seem to have lost their magic. What this album has done is inspire me to go and dig out the originals.