So for our youngsters out there or even those who have grown accustomed to the three-minute radio edit, you may notice that House or Nu-House tracks as you will find on Matt Warren’s “Music Is My Life” are an average of 6 minutes long! Why? Well, let’s tell you why.
1) Until the 70s – you could hear LONG songs on the radio. Songs that went for the full length of the vinyl were not uncommon. Artists like Todd Rudgren, Frank Zappa and Yes (you may have others) took their songs with the freedom to make them the length that they wanted to express their creative ideas. As deeper pockets began to control and exploit the artists coupled by the need to have plenty of commercials on radio came into play – the demand for the three-minute radio edit became the norm.
In Britain, radio was very different from what our American cousins were enjoying. The biggest national radio station was BBC Radio 1 which played a steady diet of three-minute pop songs throughout the day. Every two or three hours the same pop songs were played, and for anyone with more esoteric tastes in music they were out of luck. That was until the late night show, when a more eclectic playlist that included longer songs was the order of the day. Alas that was only a couple of hours a day. Surely there had to be an alternative in Britain?
Many music fans thought that when commercial radio took to the air in the seventies it would offer an alternative? However, the commercial stations played the same three-minute pop music during the day and into the early evening. Later in the evening, a few shows offered an alternative to the diet of mainstream pop. They even dared to play the occasional longer song, but always the program director had one eye on the viewing figures and the other on advertising revenue. This meant that fans of progressive rock, Todd Rudgren and Frank Zappa were unable to hear they music they loved. That would continue to be the case for many years, and by then music had changed and house music was born in Chicago.
2) House music has always had its rebel elements and song length has been one of those factors. Long songs allow the DJs to have plenty of time for mixing and also provide the dancers time to not only get up and dance but to really enter the trance that dance can be.
3) House music mixes are joyful creations that take the base of the song – or the “commercial” edit and extend, scratch, mix and play up the features of the original song to the point that it might not even be recognizable. A skilled DJ can give a totally different flavor to the tune, in fact, many different flavors or feels. In essence, you can end up with many variations depending upon the mixer or DJ who has worked on the new mix. So important is this skill, that awards are given for the best mixes in the industry.
4) Perhaps most importantly, at least to Matt Warren and Pepper Gomez, they just like long songs. A song’s length should be respected and shouldn’t be forced into a box. If the song calls for being long, so be it. Matt and Pepper prefer it that way!