A1: Logic System – Unit
A2: Kraftwerk – Computerwelt (2009 Remastered
B1: Whodini – Magic’s Wand
B2: Rocker’s Revenger – Walking On Sunshine (Feat Donnie Calvin
C1: Klein & Mbo – Dirty Talk (European Connection
D1: Liaisons Dangereuses – Los Niños Del Parque
D2: Yello – Bostich
E1: The The – Giant
F1: The Residents – Kaw-Liga
G1: Clan Of Xymox – Stranger
G2: A Split – Second – Flesh
H1: Severed Heads – Dead Eyes Opened
H2: The Weathermen – Poison!
I1: New Order – Blue Monday
J1: Anne Clark – Our Darkness
J2: 16 Bit – Where Are You?
K1: Phuture – We Are Phuture
K2: Model 500 – No Ufo’s (Vocal
L1: Frankie Knuckles Feat Jamie Principle – Your Love
L2: Quest – Mind Games (Street Mix
M1: Jasper Van’t Hof – Pili Pili
N1: Guem Et Zaka Percussion – Le Serpent
N2: Hugh Masekela – Don’t Go Lose It Baby
O1: Sly & Robbie – Make ‘Em Move
Q1: The Ecstasy Club – Jesus Loves The Acid
R1: Foremost Poets – Reason To Be Dismal?
S1: Lhasa – The Attic
S2: A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray
T1: M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up The Volume – Usa 12″ Mix
T2: Bobby Konders – Nervous Acid
U1: Meat Beat Manifesto – Helter Skelter
V1: Raze – Break 4 Love
W1: Sueño Latino With Manuel Goettsching Performing E2-E4 – Sueño Latino (Paradise Version
X1: Off – Electrica Salsa
O2: Brian Eno – David Byrne – Help Me Somebody
P1: Primal Scream – Loaded (Andy Weatherall Mix
For this uniquely personal retrospective spread over twelve vinyl discs, Sven Väth takes us back to the early days of his DJ career. On What I Used To Play we meet great pioneers of electronic music, gifted percussionists, obscure wave bands, and innovative producers of a bygone ‘new electronic’ era. Rough beats and irresistible grooves from the identification stage of house, techno, and acid remind us not just how far electronic music has evolved over the past four decades, but how great it was to dance to EBM, techno, and house for the very first time.
If there is one protagonist of the electronic music scene who has remained curious, innovative and at the very cutting edge of music for over four decades, it’s Sven Väth. His multi-layered artist albums and Sound of the Season mix compilations have been defining the genre for over two decades, and even today, he is constantly on the lookout for the next top tune to add to the highlights of his next set. At least, that’s the case when he’s not producing them himself as an artist or remixer. “Actually, it’s always been part of my DNA to think ahead,” and nothing had been further from his mind than looking back at his past, but when in spring of 2020 the international DJ circuit had to be scaled down to virtually zero, the ‘restless traveler’ suddenly had time. Time to stop and reflect on “how it actually was back then, at the very beginning of my career…”
“It was a great trip and with every track, beautiful memories came flooding back”.
In the London apartment, he had just moved into, Sven has set up a “little music room”, where he cocooned himself for several days, “to look way back for the first time and review my musical journey through the eighties, so to speak.”
The interim result was six thematically oriented playlists with a grand total of 120 tracks from ‘early 80s’ to ‘Balearic late 80s’, together with excursions into afrobeat, European new wave, and EBM sounds and a few epochal techno/house tracks from the USA in between. From these ‘Best of Sven Väth’s favorites’, the project What I Used To Play crystallized. Sven remembers how the Cocoon team reacted to his proposal: “They found the idea of making a compilation out of it MEGA from the beginning and everyone said ‘Sven, go for it’, but then, of course, the work really started, namely, to clear the rights and to get clean sounding masters of the up to 40-year-old tracks. There was also disappointment, of course. We couldn’t clear certain titles because the rights holders in the USA had fallen out with each other or simply disappeared from the scene. In short, it wasn’t easy, but now I can safely say we got the most important tracks.”
Finally, after two years of research, curation, design, and administrative fine-tuning, the “little retrospective” from 1981 to 1990 is available. The exquisitely packaged, and three-kilo heavy box set is not only physically impressive, WIUTP is also the definitive record of Sven Väth’s musical development. On each of the twenty-four sides of vinyl, you can trace track by track, what influenced him during which phase, and how he took off as a DJ from his parents’ Queen’s Pub straight into the spotlight at Dorian Gray. There and at Vogue (later OMEN), Sven became the style-defining player in the DJ booth that he still is today.
1981 – 1990: Future Sounds of Now
In the early eighties, the crowd in clubs like Vogue and Dorian Gray danced to what nowadays we call ‘dance classics’ – mainly disco, funk, soul, and chart pop. It was up to a new generation of DJs, including Sven Väth, the youngest protagonist in the Rhine-Main area at the time, to create their own club-ready music mix. Good new tracks and potential floor-fillers were rarities that had to be sought out and found, in order to prove oneself worthy.
Without MP3s, internet streaming, or other digital download possibilities, music didn’t just gravitate to the DJ, instead, it had to be tracked down. In well-stocked record stores in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden or even in Amsterdam, London, or New York, Sven and friends sourced the material for countless magical nights. On WIUTP we can follow Sven’s very personal journey through this wild, innovative era in which synth-pop, funk, hip-hop, and disco were successively replaced as ‘club music’ by house, techno, acid, and breakbeat. By the end of the decade, it was clear to see that these once exotic ‘fringe’ phenomena would soon become ‘mass’ phenomena.
Dirty Talk by the Italian-American duo Klein & M.B.O. represents the most innovative phase of the Italo-disco genre in the early eighties like no other track. Mario Boncaldo (I) and Tony Carrasco relied entirely on the original synthetic drum and percussion sounds of the Roland TR-808, coupled with the raunchy vocals of Rossana Casale and guitar accents of Davide Piatto. Of course, other tracks from this period were also influential in style, most notably Unit by Logic System, which worked as the perfect soundtrack to the laser lighting system at the legendary Dorian Gray club. With stomping beats and robotic rap interludes, Bostich by Yello also belongs on Sven’s eternal playlist – after all, it caught the attention of Afrikaa Bambaataa, who invited the Swiss duo to perform at the Roxy in New York in 1983.
EBM Wave – Mid 80s
From today’s point of view, the almost ten-minute-long, downtempo track Giant by Matt Johnson’s band project The The, would probably not be considered an obvious club classic. However, a closer (re)listen reveals the rhythmic intricacies of the percussion overdubs by JG Thirlwell (aka Foetus) on Johnson’s composition, and it becomes clear why this exceptional piece of music is one of Sven’s absolute favorites. Other classics from this phase include Kaw-Liga by the mysterious The Residents, the hypnotic-synthetic Our Darkness by Anne Clark (and David Harrow), and last but not least, the somber, monotonous anthem Where Are You? by 16Bit, one of Sven Väth’s projects together with Michael Münzing, Luca Anzilotti from 1986.
US House – Late 80s
You certainly can’t talk about Chicago house without mentioning Frankie Knuckles. The resident DJ at the Warehouse not only gave the name to an entire genre, but also produced epochal floor fillers on the Trax label like the timeless Your Love, sung (and moaned) by Jamie Principle. Acid house protagonists Phuture also hail from Chicago, and on We Are Phuture (also released on Trax) we hear the chirping acid sounds of the legendary Roland TB-303 in full effect. Another featured classic is No UFO’s by Detroit’s Model 500 aka Juan Atkins, who is rightly considered the ‘Godfather of Techno’ even if the genre-defining track from 1985 still breathes with the spirit of hip-hop and electro from the first breakdance era.
Le Serpent, by Algerian-born Abdelmadjid Guemguem, is a track that sounds completely different from everything else on WIUTP. Made in 1978, it’s a monumental, rousing groove created without bass or synths, just with five congas! Even though Guem sadly passed away in 2021, his immortal, acoustic beats are understood all over the world and will continue to enrich many thousands of DJ sets for years to come. Another classic that not only Sven appreciates beyond measure is Hugh Masekela’s Don’t Go Lose it, Baby. In addition to being one of the most important jazz pioneers, the trumpeter and freedom fighter from Johannesburg was very experimental, integrating electronic sounds into his music in later years, in a similar vein to Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Dutch jazz pianist Jasper van’t Hof’s afrobeat project Pili Pili has also aged well. The trance-like, almost sixteen-minute-long track of the same name, manages to fill a whole side on the seventh of twelve vinyl discs in the WIUTP box.
UK-US-Euro – Late 80s
Time for a change of scene, in the truest sense of the word, and from a musical perspective, this section is like landing on another planet. First up is Andrew Weatherall’s classic remix of Primal Scream’s Loaded, featuring the iconic Peter Fonda sample (lifted from the 1966 biker film Wild Angels) that came to personify the mood triggered by the British Second Summer of Love in the late eighties: “We wanna be free to do what we wanna do, and we wanna get loaded…”. This period also saw the emergence of M/A/R/R/S whose only single, 1987’s Pump Up The Volume, became a club classic with support from DJ legend CJ Mackintosh. In this most eclectic of sections, we also encounter New York house and reggae producer Bobby Konders and his seminal Nervous Acid.
Balearic – Late 80s
Those who know him, know that Sven had already lost his heart to the ‘magic island’ of Ibiza as a teenager, so with that in mind, the WIUTP project couldn’t end without a Balearic chapter. Inspired by Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4, the immortal, eponymously titled Sueño Latino belongs in there without question. Equally popular on the island was, and still is Break 4 Love by Raze, which thinking about it, would also fit perfectly into the house chapter. Last, but not least, there’s an overdue reunion with Sven Väth himself, in his role as frontman of the successful Frankfurt trio OFF. Together with Michael Münzing and Luca Anzilotti (later of Snap!) this ‘Organization For Fun’ created the off-the-wall club hit Electric Salsa in 1986 which incidentally turned into an international chart smash, putting Sven in the enviable position of having to decide between pop stardom and a DJ career. Well, we all know how that decision turned out and the rest, as they say, is history. A not insignificant part of his story is What I Used To Play. Enjoy!