CD Cover Propellerheads

Review by Darren Gawle

You know the club -- it's the present flavour-of-the-month place to be seen. Every town has one, where 'generation next' hangs, secure in the knowledge that they are young, that they are beautiful, and that aging is a punishment that only happens to unpleasant people like their parents. For various reasons, one night you find yourself at this club as well.

Let's assume you'll be meeting some acquaintances here later. You spend more time than you're willing to put up with at the door, while some nondescript beat-oriented pulsating drone carries on within ("Take California"). Maybe if you were dancing to it, it would make more sense; but, as it is, fifteen minutes elapse before you gain entry and realize that the DJ's progressed more than a little on his set list. Samples pieced together to form some kind of inside joke (Q: "What's different, Pete, about the sixty-nine that makes it so exciting to you?" A: "Two thousand people in a seething, roaring, shouting mass!" Oh wait, I get it now...) bring you in a roundabout way to the lineup at the bar, while the irritating sound of a skateboard on a half-pipe backs up a load of ghetto mumbling ("360 (Oh Yeah?)").

All of a sudden, the club begins to buzz at the opening bars of a Hammond organ drenched in echo. 'Ooh -- jazzy!' you think, and you make your way to the dance floor along with half the people in the club, all the while wondering 'Hey, is that Shirley Bassey?' You feel that you're beginning to 'get it' now. You feel a part of what's going on. You feel like you're having fun.

No, the fun doesn't last, although you haven't realized that just yet. But as you dance to more aimless beat-oriented noodling ("Winning Style"), the relentless feeling of self-awareness is creeping up on you like the gin & tonic seeping into your bladder. You make a break for the washroom. When you emerge, something which features a very White Zombie-oriented slide guitar with someone yelling "Bang On!" is segueing into an excursion in old-skool Brooklyn hip-hop. You wish you could find the people you're supposed to meet. You don't feel so much a part of anything any more...

The remainder of your time becomes a blur. The DJ's selections become more repetitious and unrecognizable, save the one which sounds like he's added an electric guitar to the theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service. You make an ill-advised plan to finish your second drink before leaving. You feel decidedly uncomfortable now. Everyone who looks at you seems to know you don't belong here, seems to know you're an impostor. You feel old. It's time to leave.

You look up at the sign above the door as you leave, the sound of some gay innuendo set to more beats haranguing you through the curtains. Club Propellerheads. You make definite plans not to come here again.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on May 29, 1998

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