Andy Weatherall is the type of dude that you don’t realize has had a massive effect on your life until he hits the radar for something (in this case, dying tragically at too young an age) and you look over his body of work, see his face, and think, “He’s pretty much been with me this entire time making my life more colorful and awesome every step of the way.”
A true artist if there ever was one, Weatherall grew up in the grey English burbs as the type of lovely misfit that can list A Certain Ratio b-sides in alphabetical order and was more interested in flash clothes than the girlfriends they inevitably attracted. Of course he excelled in art (if nothing else) but was rejected from all top art schools on the recommendation of a hateful guidance counselor. This turned out to be an important strength. Indeed, Weatherall’s unlearned, gadfly approach to music, fashion, and fine art is what made him stand out from the thousands of DJs, industry snakes, and sulking band members he managed to outclass every step of the way over the next four decades. Working as a piano mover in Windsor, he started getting tapped to spin discs at house parties for the simple fact that he had the most records and the best taste of anyone in his crowd. And we’re not just talking dance-oriented stuff; Weatherall loved everything from snarling ’50s rockabilly to deep cut ’60s psych to disco to the type of early ’80s electro goth that wouldn’t regain popularity until the early 2000s. He eventually started spinning at the acid house clubs that were taking off at the time, turning hooligans into loved-up, pure-womb happy hardcore disciples. While his fellow DJs, people with names such as Paul Oakenfold, were on the fast track to international EDM superstardom, Weatherall slipped off down a much more interesting (but nowhere near as financially lucrative) rabbit hole by becoming the go-to remixer for blokey trad rock bands looking to cash in on the E’d up acid house craze.
The results, surprisingly, were pure gold.
Surely anyone reading this will be familiar with “Loaded”, Primal Scream’s first hit and their one song that comes the closest to beating the Stones at their own game, but delve a little deeper and you’ve got lesser known treasures on Screamadelica such as the magisterial, mind-tripping potency of “Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony)” and the absolutely immortal drone-rehab of The 13th Floor Elevators’ “Slip Inside This House”. Everything Weatherall touched during this time was pure magic, from the goth-tinged Happy Mondays “Hallelujah” remix (“We’ll take a bit of this and that”) to St. Etienne’s dubbed-out “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” Neil Young cover that by all means should not have worked but somehow came together perfectly. This is not to mention the My Bloody Valentine swooning “Soon” remix that sparked off several genres of its own even though Weatherall completed it in one night and never listened to it again. In all of these instances Weatherall’s MO was clear: Take a band completely out of their comfort zone, escalating them to heights they had never even fathomed while retaining their singular original vibe.
Looking in on Andrew Weatherall’s output, comfort zones were a thing he most likely didn’t even know existed. After fading from the pop culture limelight (he famously turned down Bono’s invitation to produce Achtung Baby) he embarked on a maddening series of one-off projects, 7-inches released through tiny imprints, bands that would release successful albums then be dismantled before they could get too big. Delving into this colorful mess, however, will reward you with many incredible tracks that prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that Weatherall never once lost his step no matter which sub-genre he was mining on any particular evening. There are those who claim that, just like The Dead, the only way to appreciate this artist is to listen to his live DJ sets, some of which roll for up to ten hours. If that’s your thing then have at it, since there’s many of these available on Youtube and the darker corners of the internet that Weatherall both admired and feared in equal measure. For those just looking for a primer, however, then check out the 20 jams below, including remixes, original tracks, and sorted loose ends, that will give you a window into one of the purest artists modern times has blessed us with.
Primal Scream, “A Dub Symphony In Two Parts”
Primal Scream, “Loaded”
My Bloody Valentine, “Soon”
New Order, “World In Motion”
Happy Mondays, “Hallelujah”
St. Etienne, “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”
The Sabres Of Paradise, “Smokebelch”
The Sabres Of Paradise, “The Ballad Of Nicky McGuire”
The Sabres Of Paradise, “Clock Factory”
Two Lone Swordsment, “Glide By Shooting”
Two Lone Swordsmen, “The Bunker”
Two Lone Swordsmen, “Beacon Block”
Fuck Buttons, “Sweet Love For Planet Earth”
Wooden Ships, “Crossing”
Psychic TV, “Reunited”
The Orb, “Perpetual Dawn”
Beth Orton, “Tangent”
Spiritualized, “Come Together”
The Horrors, “Moving Further Away”
Andrew Weatherall, “All The Little Things”
And may Andrew forever rest in power.