100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #57 A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray

Released : 1989

Gerald Simpson had been a staple amongst Manchester’s jazzdance, electro and crew scenes since the early 1980’s but his journey from listener to creator was a reflection of acid house’s punk spirit, a DIY carnival where you could go from the crowd to the stage with little more than some ideas.

Simpson worked a number of menial jobs, saving all his money to buy equipment like the soon-to-be-famous Japanese ugly ducklings, the Roland 808 and 303 drum and bass synthesisers, which having ceased production years before were now available for a few hundred pounds each.

Voodoo Ray, like many classics, proved that time was the master of invention. Simpson went into the Moonraker Studios with co-producers Aniff Akinola and Colin Thorpe and some home demos; taking advantage of their rock bottom out of hours rates, legend having it the subsequent EP cost £75 to record.

Accidents helped to create the unique sound of one of Britain’s most revered dancefloor classics. Simpson didn’t know how to work the studio’s sampler, so kept reversing singer Nicola Collier’s vocals in lieu of anything more technical, whilst the original sample of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore saying ‘Voodoo Rage’ was accidentally cut short, hence the song’s title.

The hypnotic finished product embedded itself into club consciousness, raw yet stylised, mechanical yet absolutely human. The Hacienda broke it to a wider public, but Voodoo Ray also set off a chain reaction across the Pennines in both Sheffield and Leeds, helping to feed material back into what rapidly became a vast club and illegal rave scene which snaked along the M62 like a mains circuit cable. The North had risen again.