Andrew Weatherall – Five Tracks That Defined His Genius

It’s hard to know where to begin when reminiscing back to the brilliance and innovation of Andrew Weatherall’s career. A musician, DJ, and producer who broke down barriers between rock and dance music. A truly inspirational figure in the game. 

He was known as the Guv’nor to many and it’s evident to see why he held such an impressive moniker. A career spanning over 30 years, from indie dance floor-fillers to experimental techno. A man who repeatedly broke the rules, pushed boundaries and was determined not to be pigeonholed to one genre. He cited Donna Summer’s ‘Love To Love You Baby’ produced by electro-pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder to be the first record that sparked his enthusiasm for music.

Weatherall moved to London in the late 1980s. His record collection and music knowledge quickly caught the attention of Nicky Holloway who hired him at club night Trip. Danny Rampling was another admirer of his musical prowess and invited him to play at seminal club Shoom. He later became a key member of the influential fanzine and club night Boy’s Own.

In 1990, Boy’s Own Productions was set up under the London Records umbrella. Weatherall now found himself in demand doing remixes. His first studio work was a remix of Happy Mondays ‘Hallelujah’ alongside Paul Oakenfold. In that same year, he produced Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’ album, considered one of the most influential British albums of all time. 

Following that pivotal moment, he delved into collaborative project The Sabres of Paradise and joined forces with Keith Tenniswood on Two Lone Swordsmen. The pair later set up the label Rotters Golf Club. It was on this imprint Weatherall released his debut solo EP ‘The Bullet Catcher’s Apprentice’, followed by debut solo album ‘A Pox on the Pioneers’. His later works included producing the album ‘Tarot Sport’ for Fuck Buttons and teaming up with Battant’s Timothy J. Fairplay as The Asphodells. 

To define this man to five tracks was always going to be a mammoth task but here are my selections.

Primal Scream – Loaded (1990)

Video credit: Primal Scream

It’s fair to say that prior to the release of Screamadelica, Primal Scream were considered a bit of a joke, especially in the media’s eyes. Andrew Weatherall changed all that. The release of Primal Scream’s self-titled album didn’t get the acclaim that was desired from the group, but Weatherall was a fan of the eponymous album and published a positive article about it in fanzine Boy’s Own. 

They later crossed paths and it was suggested that Weatherall should remix Primal Scream’s ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ for a fee of £500. His first attempt at remixing the track was knocked back by the band for being too respectful to the original. Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes instructed Weatherall to “just fucking destroy it”. He decided to reinvent the track and used samples that included ‘Loaded’ from the film The Wild Angels, vocals from The Emotions ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love’, drum samples from Eddie Brickwell’s ‘What I Am’ and jazz elements from John Hawkins ‘Freestyle’. The single received rave reviews and reached number 16 on the UK Single Charts. The album Screamadelica was released 18 months later and received the first-ever Mercury Prize. 

Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Andrew Weatherall’s A Mix In Two Halves Remix) (1990)

Video credit: Waddleofwigan

The rattling bassline is what makes this remix so special. A track intended for the dancefloor.

In 1990, English band Saint Etienne recorded a cover version of Neil Young’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’. This was one of Andrew Weatherall’s earlier remixes and in this instance being respectful to a track turned out to be simply ingenious. The track is quite literally chopped into two halves. Broken down midway before dropping the lyric “easing a spliff from his lyrical lips” then the reemergence of that thumping bass kicks back in. Love it.

My Bloody Valentine – Soon (Andy Weatherall Mix) (1990)

Video credit: Kenny Kickitt

Andrew Weatherall was part of the movement that introduced indie kids to dance music and vice versa. His remix of Happy Mondays ‘Hallelujah’ with Paul Oakenfold was influential in guiding indie-dance into the mainstream. My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Soon’ remix was another example of his witty imagination. Only Weatherall could have seen the feasibility in the noisiest and fiercest shoegazing and churn out a tune that could pack out a dancefloor. 

The Sabres Of Paradise – Smokebelch II (Beatless Mix) (1993)

Video credit: Infiltrate202

Andrew Weatherall despised the glitz and the glam. He released some of the most influential records for the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, New Order, and Happy Mondays. He found himself surrounded with future megastars of the time but he turned his nose up at the big league and decided to go underground. In 1993, Weatherall linked up with Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns to form The Sabres of Paradise. Their first single ‘Smokebelch II’ was released on Warp Records. This musical supplement is delightful and mesmerising: the perfect after-party tune.

Two Lone Swordsmen – Hope We Never Surface (1998)

Video credit: Veniel Ouria

After The Sabres of Paradise dissolved, Weatherall started a new project with Keith Tenniswood as Two Lone Swordsmen. They released the album Stay Down on Warp Records in 1998. This release, in particular, possesses the flavour of Detroit duo Drexciya and showcases Weatherall’s more experimental side. A new favourite of mine.

RIP Andrew Weatherall. A true musical genius.

Cover image credit: John Barrett