Bassheads originate from Birkenhead on the Wirral and are named after club night The Bassment which DJ and band member Desa started in 1988.
With the help of bandmate Nick Murphy, Desa used a reel-to-reel tape machine he’d bought (a Revox B77) to blend samples and loops into unique pieces to play at the club.
This was the height of the acid house and rave scene of course, and the genre was developing rapidly.
The underground nature of the scene meant independent and often anonymous acts were releasing white label 12” singles directly into radio and clubs, and new anthems were being born every week.
Bassheads were one such act, and had played out several of their cuts in their own sets before they released ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ as a 12” white label in 1991.
Their original version sampled Pink Floyd heavily in its intro, and also included uncleared samples by the Osmonds, Talking Heads, Afrika Bambaataa and Ruffneck featuring Cheri Williams.
It’s success on the rave scene quickly spread Bassheads name way beyond Birkenhead, and later in 1991 Deconstruction records signed the track, and a remade version became a top 5 hit in the UK.
The Pink Floyd sample was removed for the commercially released version, and other samples were recreated to reduce the need to obtain full permissions from the rights holders for each.
But the journey of this track is interesting not just because of the need to remake it for commercial release.
It’s also helps to illustrate the natural dynamic of any underground scene that grows sufficiently to cross over into the mainstream.
As the acid house scene grew, Deconstruction Records set themselves up, primarily to distribute and market house anthems.
Thanks to distribution deals with Parlophone and RCA, they were soon able to score top 10 hits not only with Bassheads, but also with K-Klass, Robert Miles, Felix and M-People, amongst others.
Just six years after its formation, the label was bought by BMG, and such was its growth in that period, both in terms of size and reputation, that shortly after the buy-out, the label was able to sign Kylie Minogue.
As for Bassheads, they soon release an album C.O.D.E.S. through Deconstruction and achieved several more top 40 hits in the early 1990s, most notably with ‘Back To The Old School’.
But this was their anthem, and whether in its original white-label version with original samples, or in this slightly more polished commercial release, it’s a track that still regularly rocks dancefloors in the UK and beyond.
On to the record itself then, and the sleeve is in the Deconstruction house style, designed by 3a.
Colours changed from one release to the next but the fonts and layout remained the same, keeping design costs down, and building a strong identity which contributed to the label’s success.
The 12” single contains the “extended” version of ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ and a version of b-side ‘Non Verbal Communication’ on the reverse.
Given that the extended a-side is virtually the same length and structure as the original white-label, it isn’t actually extended at all, and it would have been more appropriate for this to be called the original version, and the 7” to be called the truncated version, albeit that that would have defied convention.
Either way, this 12” is a superb product of a scene that had an energy and intensity that has rarely been matched since, and which saw many other dance anthems make the journey from the British provinces to a global stage.
Cat No: 12R 6303