s time has passed and house and disco have aged there has been a tendency, as with any form with amazing riches worth celebrating and preserving, to form a canon. Rules about what can be played and how to play it have become rigid in a way that they never were when, in their initial stages, these genres were ways of playing records rather than recorded styles in their own right. These days, away from the neo-electro brain-fryers, house can get prissy, with records being played with ‘respect’ like they’re Mylar bagged museum artefacts. But forget that, because none of it applies to Rub’n’Tug’s Campfire mix which sounds almost implausibly fucked throughout. It may not be conscious but this mix contains everything guaranteed to irritate True Believers in Professional DJing. Recorded live at Campfire, New York City, tracks are played way in the red, mixes are repeatedly fluffed and there are volume surges and EQ jumps throughout. If you were aiming to DJ at a club you wouldn’t send a mix like this out as a showcase of your abilities because it would be in the bin before the third track. It’s a macho display of power, albeit a camp one, and it’s great—energising and exciting.
The mix begins, well, it begins with Rub (or Tug) whispering “time to make a move, time to make a move” but it really starts with two minutes of heavy quasi-tribal drumming amped until there’s no clear distinction between the beats, like a quantised Amon Duul I. Then it’s straight into some kaftan wearing Euro-prog from Aphrodite’s Child, the band that was the launching pad for Vangelis and Demis Roussos. Circular Who guitars meet Sergeant Pepper horns on top of the type of tom tom heavy undertow that served as a starting point for disco. After that we get to some early acid house with the molten steel bassline of Charles B’s Adonis produced “Lack of Love.”
“Lady Bug” by Bumblebee Unlimited is now better known for being featured on Annie’s DJ Kicks but Rub’n’Tug play it cutting between two copies of the record, losing the cutesy dialogue between the bees and emphasising grinding forward motion piano magic. Unheralded tracks like Hot Chocolate’s “Don’t Turn It Off” and the AC/DC-gone-even-more-homo disco of Flash and the Pan’s “Midnight Man” are played like they’re classics. It suits them.
Rub 'n' Tug’s DJing feels like old Block Party hip hop tapes rather than contemporary dance DJing, something signposted by the inclusion of a Bronx Dogs track that mashes up parts from Afrika Bambaataa's Death Mix semi-bootleg. Hear Cozy Powell’s “Dance with the Devil,” a corny, Hendrix biting novelty from the Rainbow and Whitesnake drummer, get over amped, echoed out, fed back and recut until it sounds like sweat soaked dancefloor fever was always the aim. This would be seat of the pants DJing if Rub’n’Tug didn’t sound like they’re wearing assless chaps.