Midway 1998 I bought the album Fresh Juice by A1 People upon recommendation of my friend Bram. I was happy with the tip, as I played it regularly at the time. How does the album hold up today?
Very little is known about A1 People. A1 People was founded in 1997 in Greenwich, London and consists of the musicians / producers / DJs Simeon Bowring and Matt Early. They often worked with others on their records and live performances. The music was labeled nu-skool electro or future disco, which harked back at the old/original (old-school) acid house and disco. Synthesizers and drum machines, intertwined with guitar and bass, characterized the sound of the group.
The moniker A1 People was also used for production and remix work for other artists, like Blondie. The A1 People members also worked outside of the confines of the group, oftentimes using pseudonyms: Bowring as Pentatonik, Troubleshooter and Pentaura, Early as Harbag and Funky Wogan.
The group signed with the label Hydrogen Dukebox, which operated out of London. The label was founded in 1992 by Doug Hart. The name for the label was derived from the Allen Ginsberg poem Howl, which describes a bar that contains a jukebox called the Hydrogen Dukebox. The Hydrogen Dukebox gives hope to the youthful and inspires the bar’s visitors.
Late 1997 A1 People made their debut with the single Goin’ Down, followed by the second single Do It early 1998.
Like I stated before, I bought the album upon recommendation of my friend Bram. I have never regretted it. The album is filled with electro funk, old-school dance, and it’s a party all the way. Nothing earth shattering, not essential, and yet it guarantees 11 songs of highly entertaining escapism.
Funk, electronics, scratching, humor are all blended into the melting pot. Unfortunately, the album isn’t available anymore in the shops or on any of the streaming services.
The official release date is unknown. The American allmusic.com uses April 27, 1999. On the few other sites that mention A1 People and their debut album, the year 1998 seems to be the consensus. Only one review can be found online on the site of the English The Independent, dating August 15, 1998. It’s very likely the album was released the week before. Since August 11 was Tuesday, and many releases are extradited on Tuesdays, I picked the August 11 date as the date of release.
Later releases of the album contain a sticker quoting English reviews:
Near-flawless old-skool bleepage
What Public Enemy would be doing if they lived in London and they weren’t pissed off…
A1 People are ace
Blatantly, unashamedly and joyously electro
In short, the English press was thrilled, and rightfully so.
All songs written by Matt Early and Simeon Bowring, unless stated otherwise.
- Eager Beaver (You Got The Moves)
- Drive It
- Do It Again
- Son Of A Gun
- Love Arcade
- Goin’ Down
- Better Believe
- A1 People
- Jungle Fever
- What Is A1? (Play It Loud) (Matt Early, Simeon Bowring, DJ D-Zine)
- Matt Early – synthesizer, drum machine (808), string machine, guitar
- Simeon Bowring – synthesizer, guitar, bass, string machine, vocoder, vocals
- DJ D-Zine – scratches on Drive It, Do It Again, Love Arcade, Goin’ Down, A1 People, Badass, What Is A1? (Play It Loud) and rap on What Is A1? (Play It Loud)
- Troy Shanks – guitar on Drive It, Better Believe, What Is A1? (Play It Loud)
- Amir K. Morjarrad – drums on Son Of A Gun, Love Arcade
- DJ Harry K – scratches on Son Of A Gun, Love Arcade
- Tom Crook – guitar on Love Arcade
- Jonny Delafons – drums on Love Arcade
- Ayla Master – vocals on Do It Again, background vocals on Drive It
- Sarah Beardsmore, Sarah Hendricks – vocals on Eager Beaver (You Got The Moves)
After Fresh Juice
What happened after Fresh Juice isn’t well documented as well. The group released a number of albums:
- The Visit (2001)
(also not available online or in the shops)
- The Yellow Album (2002)
(available on streaming services, seemingly the group’s most successful album)
- Magical Thinking (2007/2008)
(only available on the A1 People myspace page)
The group also released a number of EPs and singles. Listed here are the EPs and singles not affiliated with the albums above.
- No One Likes A Smartarse (EP, 2005, released on Satamile Records)
(available, but not through regular streaming services)
- Homosapien (single B-side, 2010, in cooperation with Pete Shelley
(not easily available)
- Sing and Play Joy Division (single, 2010)
In the 2010s the group performed some concerts, but since 2010 it’s been quiet. What the group is up to nowadays, or if it exists at all, is unknown (to me).
Unfortunately, the Fresh Juice album isn’t available anymore. Let’s hope someone will amend this and do something about it.
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: A1 People – Fresh Juice.
A1 People – Several releases after Fresh Juice image: rovicorp.com/spotify.com/satamile.com
All other images: discogs.com