Recently I have posted video from pioneers of the Electronic Movement not only around the world but in the US as well. There are many names that come to mind that built the foundation to what we have now. Although there is a lot of controversy over what is good about the movement and what is not, it is impossible to not pay homage to the pioneers. Many think it was Sasha and John Digweed that popularized electronic in the US and that’s up for debate because S & D at the start of the millennium were at their peak and were hitting the US hard and were considered to be the top DJ’s in the world.
The other influences both before and after S & D are simple to hash out. As the first decade of the millennium progressed DJ Tiesto became the biggest DJ in the world and his style of hyper trance was at the edge of the movement breaking in America. More importantly there was one DJ who was arguably past his prime in the new millennium but there is no doubt that he was the first superstar DJ around the world, and that was Paul Oakenfold. For all of the 1990’s Paul Oakenfold was regarded by most everyone as the biggest influence on Electronic music not because of his songwriting but for his song selection. Early in the 1990’s Paul Oakenfold was so popular and he was instrumetal in the formation of the record pool, the guy white labels were sent to and it was often a full year or more before the songs was released by the original producer, if ever.
Many tracks that Paul acquired were signed to his Perfecto label and many of the specific remixes that he produced or received from producers have never been released or were only released in short run limited edition vinyl. When I say short run I mean for DJ’s only from 5 to 50 pieces and Paul owned 3 of them. This was the era of vinyl as digital was not in the mainstream yet and high speed internet was not standard so low encoded .mp3’s ruled the internet. This was as a result of the length time to download one track on a 56k dial-up connection.
Another thing holding back other DJ’s from roaming around the US was a DJ had to carry cases of vinyl with them wherever they went and that was a logistical nightmare to someone who was not already making good money from touring the rest of the world, as the US was not receptive at the time. Although the underground rave scene was in full gear in the US it was not about DJ’s raking in millions like today. Well as a result of all this, good or bad, the use of digital and CDJ players and mixing software fixed the headaches of carrying vinyl everywhere. Now, in modern times, any DJ can tour the US if they have a following which they can drum up with social Media.
Paul Oakenfold was 20 years ahead of all the pandemonium we see today. Even in the early to mid 1990’s Paul was the “man” even amongst most techno DJ’s (Not all but many). The brand of trance that he was playing at the time was considered cutting edge in those days, he would mix up his sets with different genres of electronic that were in their infancy at the time. Many Techno purists will say they were not into Oakenfold ever, their either lying or they just liked Dave Clarke “The Baron Of Techno more. The use of sparse vocals gets less and less the more hardcore and underground that you go.
Another thread for another time is going to be on Pete Tong, not for his production abilities but for his keen ear for the electronic genre and taking the reins of BBC Radio 1’s UK radio stations Dance Music Format. The reason he plays a big part in the Oakenfold story is because his groundbreaking “Essential Mix” of the week show in the early 90’s, still going strong today hosted mixes from all the best producers and DJ’s in the world. Everyone from Oakenfold to Dave Clarke were regulars on the show. It was legendary in Europe and even in the US as cassette tapes and low rez digital copies of these spectacular shows wound there way to the US and around the world.
So Paul Oakenfold was instrumental in introducing me to electronic music on a worldly scale. I had been into techno, jungle, and hardcore for a number of years before I heard of Paul and as I was part of the early rave scene here in the US. We were always looking for the next best thing and Paul was it. I traveled to London quite a bit and I remember being at house parties and listening to the essential mix live on the fm dial. One of the first Essential Mixes I heard live was Paul Oakenfold’s epic 1994 Goa India, and I remember saying to people who the hell is this and people just said it’s Paul Oakenfold, as if I should know who that was. I was hooked.
Several years later I was able to attend the best electronic show IMO in history. That show was Pete Tong, Judge Jules, and Paul Oakenfold live @ Gatecrasher Lotherton Hall, Leeds, UK (1999). It was my enlightenment…it was as energetic as any rock show I’d ever been to. It was as if I was at a European footbal match….the Punters and Trainspotters were out in full force. This show is and always will be a pinnacle of emotional moments in my life. Paul Oakenfold played the best set to the best crowd I have ever been a part of in my life. It was him playing vinyl and beatmatching…yes, really DJ’ing.
After that although I was into many other styles of Dance…I collected Dj sets by Paul Oakenfold…I have thousands of his sets and productions on Mini Disc, Digital, and CD. Sadly the love would not last as Gatecrasher paradoxically was the beginning of the end for me and his style of DJ’ing. I don’t want to trash the guy (like he cares) but I could not get into his music any more…his sets became stale and boring and as of late he is doing the same thing that many of the other popular DJ’s are doing and that is not really DJ’ing. Sadly, he has lost his position as the best at track selection in the world.
I do not say all this in sadness it’s great that the US now loves him…funny enough though most began liking him way past his prime. Paul Oakenfold will always be to me “THE” pioneer of electronic music, especially in bringing the UK sound to America. Some people really hate him to death, but I will always respect what he brought to the world of Dance. Just read the story on the “Summer of Love” in Ibiza…I think it was 1989…I forget but 1988 and 1989 electronic blew up everywhere else in the world because of those years with his other well known friends on that little white island called Ibiza. They decided to take that Balearic style back to the UK and start a revolution. There were many others too that were involved but with me the explosion happened with Mr. Oakenfeld. For that I am eternally grateful.
So in the style of this site I will showing my appreciation by posting the best of Paul Oakenfold sets from that era. There is little to no video footage, so recorded sets will have to do. I will be updating this post periodically as I bust them out. So keep checking back but there are three that I will post today to start. The three that made Paul Oakenfold one of the biggest DJ’s the world has ever known.
Essential Mix Live with Paul Oakenfold @ Gatecrasher 1999 (full set)
Paul Oakenfold Goa mix 1994 – whole 2hrs
PO – EssSel98_1
Thanks for reading and happy listening. Remember This post continues to evolve!
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