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The All Seeing I

This quirky UK electronic outfit was formed by Dean Honer, Jason Buckle and DJ Parrot (b. Richard Barratt), the latter a mainstay of Sheffield, England’s dance music scene since the mid-80s. After a spell as a DJ at the Jive Turkey club, Parrot worked with Richard H. Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire, recording material for Warp Records under the title Sweet Exorcist. The pioneering 1990 tracks ‘Testone’ and ‘Clonk’, the former featuring a video by Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, helped define the ‘bleep’ sound, a home-grown reaction against the vocal house music that was hugely popular in the south. Parrot went on to production work before, at the instigation of Cocker, starting his own Earth Records label in the mid-90s. Buckle, meanwhile, had recorded tracks for Warp using the moniker Rubber Johnny, and also worked on the Rephlex Records label under his own name. He also shared a house with Essex native Honer, who met Parrot during production sessions for Sheffield electronic outfit Add N To (X).

The trio subsequently formed the All Seeing I, releasing 1997’s debut single ‘I Walk’. Their commercial breakthrough came about when they sampled a live recording of jazz drummer Buddy Rich and his 13 year-old daughter Cathy covering Sonny And Cher’s 1967 hit, ‘The Beat Goes On’. Ironically, the track was released on the Earth label at the same time as Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident. The single became a big radio hit and translated into UK chart success in March 1998 when it reached number 11. The trio then began recording an album in collaboration with several other Sheffield musicians, including suave 70s cabaret crooner Tony Christie, Phil Oakey of 80s pop stars the Human League, and maverick singer-songwriter baby bird. Christie’s stylish performance of ‘Walk Like A Panther’, Cocker’s wry tribute to Sheffield (‘the old home town still looks the same/like a derelict man who died out of shame/like a jumble sale left out in the rain/it’s not good, it’s not right’), reached UK number 10 in January 1999. Pickled Eggs And Sherbert proved to be a delightful tribute to Sheffield, mixing cheesy MOR and pop melodies with quirky, electronic interludes. ‘First Man In Space’, that also reached the UK Top 30, featured a suitably plaintive vocal performance from Phil Oakey. Stephen Jones, aka baby bird, contributed a biting performance of his own ‘Plastic Diamond’, while Cocker stepped up to the microphone himself on ‘Drive Safely Darlin’’. In a bizarre turn of events, Honer, Buckle and Parrot were asked to produce Britney Spears cover version of ‘Beat Goes On’, which featured on the American teen sensation’s debut album. Honer went on to work with the similarly styled I Monster.
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