But by the time they arrived at ZTT Records, several chapters of 808 State’s story had already been written. Martin Price had met Graham Massey, while he was running the Eastern Bloc record shop on Oldham Street, Manchester, famously bumping into Graham - producer/engineer and member of Factory’s Biting Tongues arthouse collective - as he was working in the café opposite.
Teaming up with Gerald Simpson (of Voodoo Ray fame) they produced two landmark albums of acid house – Newbuild (1988*) and Quadrastate (1989) – and three twelve inch singles that explored the emerging scene even further. The first of these 12”s appeared, like all these early releases, on Price’s Eastern Bloc label and featured other local talents like the Scratch Beatmasters, MC Tunes and the Spinmasters a/k/a Darren Partington and Andrew Barker.
When BBC 2’s new youth TV show - Snub TV - started in autumn 1989, one of the first reports they filmed went straight to the heart of this emerging acid house scene. They shot 808 State performing live with MC Tunes (now a YouTube classic) in the basement of Eastern Bloc. 808 was now a four-piece, having recently replaced Gerald with Darren and Andrew. (While Graham, Martin and Gerald had been perfecting the early acid sound at the Hacienda, Darren and Andrew had been developing an altogether darker alternative at north Manchester’s Thunderdome and were the perfect fit when Gerald left to record solo as A Guy Called Gerald.)
808 State’s first album, 808:90 (containing the classic Pacific) was a critical smash and their second, 1991’s ex:el (containing Cübik and In Yer Face), repeated the trick but was also massive commercially. Their success may not have approached the scale of The Pleasuredome, but 808 became the cornerstone of a highly successful and wonderfully diverse dance-based period for ZTT, waxing four albums in total for the label and in the process cementing their position as one of the truly great British dance acts.